5 STEPS TO HITTING YOUR GOALS



  • @Lee-White I love your systematic way of approaching your goals. I think anyone with a growth mindset definitely has to approach their goals as a gradient rather than a ledge to drop off from for certain. I'm always working towards becoming a better version of myself (whether through how I approach my art process, my business, my personal perspective, or my health.) It all leads back to be one in the same. Do you find making lists helps to solidify your goals? Quite a few people I look up to I find do journaling, meditation, and morning exercise over afternoon. My biggest new goals this year are to work on meditation once a day and correcting my sleep. I'm still on the fence about journaling though. ❤


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @Jenna-Jenks I don't journal, but I do try to exercise and meditate (briefly) in the mornings. I'm by nature a "morning person". I have a lot of energy and drive in the mornings and need to get both exercise and really creative work done during that period. Over the rest of the day my energy tapers off and around mid afternoon I'm fairly useless. So that is when I answer emails and do other things that don't require huge effort.

    I keep a list of projects that I'm working on, but at the top of it all is a "focus" category. I will pull some activity from my projects up and put it in the focus header and that is the only thing I am worried about. This stops me from being overwhelmed by too many different things competing for attention. This works pretty well so far, although I'm always adjusting things as I go.



  • @Lee-White
    Ah yes, I've heard a good way to attain focus was to each morning write down your top three goals for your day to better ensure that if anything that you meet a daily requirement. It is a good motivational tool, although currently mine is only a list of six things I work to ensure I build a habit of (do something exercise related, 10 minute walk in the sun, reading a book to the kiddos each night, meditation, checking through social media messages/updating at least three times a week, and having at least 10 minutes of uninterrupted time without distractions from phones etc with my husband to talk.) I'm very much not a morning person 😅 but I have to be at work by 6am, so I am by default 😏 I would like to become more motivated in the mornings though as I am a firm believer in time is our biggest asset (I very much admire Marcus Aurelius' teaching regarding stoicism ❤️) A future goal to attain 😊


  • Pro

    @Lee-White Really great video, super helpful! I do think you missed a crucial step though. Step 0: Define your reasons for wanting to achieve this goal, write down what it will bring you, how it will change your life, why you want it so much. Do a fricking mood board to hang above your desk haha. I used to think this step was just a load of croc, useless. Let's just get started, I don't need this touchy feely crap. The thing is, we CANNOT rely on the power of motivation alone. At first, motivation is there and it's powerful, it's like a wave that carries us off and gets our butt to the gym each day or at the drawing table each night. Building a habit is very important too, yes. But at some point either way, motivation WILL leave us. There will be days were we just do not want to do it, at all. Where even the level 1 seems like too much. When that time comes, that's when we need to have clearly defined why we're doing this. It helps when those reasons are outlined in the beginning (when you are feeling motivated and hopeful) and we can just read them back, remember why it's so important to us to do this. The reason has to be good enough that we will continue towards our goal anyway even after motivation has left us. And in time, motivation always comes back 😉


  • SVS OG

    @Lee-White great video. Really great and helpful advice. I’ve been working and setting goals this year. I bought a super expensive planner from Bonnie Christine. You guys seriously need to bring her on to teach a class!

    My goal this year is really just keep the pace and nourish the seeds I planted last year.

    1. Keep my notecard sets current with the season in the boutique that sells my work. That means painting around 3 new sets a season. Possibly get my cards into 3-4 more stores this year.

    2. Figure out how the dog portraits fit in my work flow and paint more of them. But not let it completely take over. This is a one and done, not a residual income source.

    3. Learn how to use my iPad and create work digitally that I like.

    Tell your buddy Jake to make sure he listens to this episode! Our church (I’m part of that religion like will and Jake) has started this huge program and help our kids and teenagers set their own goals for growth rather than check off the boxes in a booklet as in years past. Your talk is extremely applicable to them. I LOVE the way you phrased “process vs outcome.” That is spot on. I will be taking so many of your points and sharing that with the kids I teach at church.

    I’m also going to make sure my husband listens to it too! He sets completely unattainable goals! Maybe he will listen to you. Seriously, the 9 year old needs to be able to cook five recipes. Baby steps.


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @NessIllustration Love that idea! I'll add it to the notes at the bottom.

    @Whitney-Simms glad ya liked it! Good luck with your goals!



  • last year, out of the blue, my 12 year old started making his own hot chocolate (and most of the time his own lunches) and bringing it to the ski club on weekends. When the school year was over, I looked through his school work and saw that when he wrote out his resolutions, one of them was to save money by always bringing hot chocolate and not spending money on hot chocolate! Then he thought about the lunches too. So, we adults could take a cue from the 12 year old lol and start with small achievable goals 😉 just like you said in the video! (I'm a proud mama ha ha so I had to say that!!!!).
    I am turning 50 later in March, so I decided that instead of "getting in the best shape of my life - (which would be pretty cool but it would probably deflate me as I used to be super fit doing triathlons etc and I don't have that much time anymore) that I was going to work at getting FIFTY strength workouts in before the big birthday.This allows for a fair number of off days too. I walk, hike, ski and/or run every day but I am not reliable on the weights. So I have a loose plan to accomplish so many per week, have fallen slightly behind but that's life, hoping to catch up as there are plenty of rest days built in there anyhow. I may catch up but even if I get 70% done I am well ahead of where I typically have been in the past with strength training! Also am doing it right in my living room cuts travel time and gym costs.
    I get lots of ideas on goals for art but mostly I am aiming for the 5 hours per day - trying the 50 minutes at a time thing and it is helping. So I am trying that as a process goal as well 🙂
    thanks for the video!



  • Great goal setting steps and presentation Lee! I plan to implement steps 2 and 4 right away. This last year was the first year that I set realistic art goals for myself. What I found difficult and important was not taking on personal projects that would take me away from my working toward those goals. At this point (now that I've set a pattern) I might have to be a little easier on my self though (Step 4) and allow myself a little bit of time for other things. Maybe I'll start rewarding myself (step 5) with time to do some other fun things.



  • @NessIllustration You are always very wise. Your point reminded me a Japanese term I learn at some point - "ikigai", roughly translated as “the reason you get out of bed every morning”



  • @deborah-Haagenson @NessIllustration you had a great idea for your step 0. These reasons or my primary purpose would be what I would want to be sure to stay focused on and not take time away from. When unmotivated as you said, maybe there's something else you want to do that day that still contributes to this. It would give you some flexibility, which is what I do. I think this is where what I said in my first post would fit.


  • SVS OG

    I think all of Lee's points are really good ones and as I watched, I realized that this is the method I use (unknowingly) to keep myself exercising and practicing music every day. For me, the focus on process goals and allowing for Easy/med/intense efforts have been especially important.

    I've had a lot of difficulty, however, applying this to art and would love other's thoughts on this. When I'm exercising, for example, I can keep repeating routines every day or when I'm practicing music, I can choose three pieces that I'll practice every day and for both exercise and music, focusing on those process goals (30 minutes a day of some level of effort) will eventually produce an outcome goal: by repeating the routine I'll get healthier, and by practicing every day, I'll get so that I can play at least the musical pieces I've been working on well even if it takes a long time. In other words, part of the reason that focusing on process rather than outcomes is good is because the process of repeating routines will lead eventually lead to the desired outcome but keeps your head in the present.

    My problem with art, however, has been that I can't figure out routines or a focus on process that leads anywhere as concrete given the limited time in my day that I have to do art. In other words, I could say, "I need to improve my painting skills so I'm going to use my art time to do watercolor swatches every day," but at the end of a month, I don't have a painting -- I have a bunch of paint swatches. I know that will help me improve my painting but it's still not very satisfying because I haven't created anything. When I only have at the most an hour a day to work on art, it's hard to spend my time practicing painting swatches or drawing 100 hands instead of creating.

    Do you have "routines" that you use to focus on skill development in your art that also lead to a satisfying need to create, especially given limited time to do art? As I said, I really agree with @Lee-White and have found his system really successful for other aspects of my life but am finding art to be a different kind of beast and could use some help figuring out how to focus on skill development and process while still satisfying my need to create something more than paint swatches 🙂


  • SVS OG

    Thanks Lee. Another super helpful video. My goal this year is to move forward on applying what I have learned so far to earn a little extra $ and work on my mental health ( my anxiety has increased over past few years to point where I barely leave the house)

    I have a history of making bold plans then not fully being able to achieve them. Then I’ll beat myself up for all my past failures rather than just putting it behind me and starting over afresh, and round and round I go into the downward spiral.

    I was that kid who got 90% in tests but when I got home my parents would say ‘umm where’s the other 10%?’,. It has driven me forward in some ways but I have never learned how to celebrate any success without immediately thinking I should have done better. I like your levels idea - going to try that and see if it helps.


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @demotlj That's a great question and I can sympathize with your problem. I'm actually talking about that on the podcast we are recording today.

    I do have a few routines that I use for art goals. The biggest one that relates to your problem is I alternate technical goals with more satisfying image creation. You know the saying "necessity is the mother of invention", well that really holds true with making a full illustration. Maybe I don't know how to paint a night scene, but if I NEED to paint a night scene, I'll just dive in and try some stuff out. That is where a massive amount of learning takes place.

    I have a real problem with the idea of only studying technique. It's boring and not very satisfying. So when I'm studying technique, I try to do exercises that relate to the next image I'm trying to make.

    I will add that sometimes you need to take your medicine and do an exercise that is isolated. Like color swatches. But that's a one time thing, just do it and move on. But don't forget to plan the fun painting stuff the same way you plan some technique holes you need to fill. : )

    Hope that helps some.



  • @demotlj One thing I've been doing is creating 3 x 3 drawings. I do this to improve my drawing skills. I find a reference and then just focus on a small segment to draw. I started this to help me with folds in fabric. Now I use it for parts of trees or animals. It is so relaxing and fun! Because the size is small and not a complete picture, I find there to be less pressure.


  • SVS OG

    @Lee-White Alternating routines with image creation is a good idea and I especially like your idea of focusing on skills needed for a particular image. That would mean that the "routine practices" for that week would have practical application for my creative effort of that week. As I think about that, I think what I also need to do is lower my expectations for the final picture and instead of evaluating how I did overall, I need to concentrate on an aspect of it -- for example, "This week I'm going to do a painting in which I just focus on getting the color harmony right and not worry about composition," and for that week I could alternate picture development with routines involving color swatches.

    Just thinking out loud 🙂 Thanks for the insight.


  • SVS OG

    @deborah-Haagenson It's funny you said that because one thing I was thinking after I posted is, "Maybe I need to cut my watercolor paper into smaller pieces so I'm not always trying to paint 8x10 paintings." I think small studies are a great idea.


  • Pro

    @deborah-Haagenson Exactly! You and I are of the same mind 🙂 If there's a day we really can't bring ourselves to draw, maybe we can do research into our dream field? Maybe we can watch a SVS class, or a Youtube video teaching something us need to learn? Look at other people's portfolios to get ideas of how other have built theirs? Research website platforms where we might want to build our own portfolio site, like Wordpress or Wix? All these things would still bring us closer to our goal, so as long as we're clear on what that goal is we can make strides even when motivation as left us.

    The trap I used to fall in is to think that when motivation left me, it was because it wasn't meant to be. That if I didn't love this enough to be motivated every day, it wasn't for me. I would give up and start chasing a new shiny thing, but in time motivation for that would leave me too. That is totally wrong and in time, I came to realize that. There came a moment when I thought "I am absolutely NOT motivated to work on my art degree at ALL, I would rather do anything else right now... But I still can't bring myself to give it up". I pushed through, forced myself, and in time motivation came back. I realized motivation comes and goes, and just because it's gone it doesn't mean something isn't worth doing or that I don't love it anymore. Motivation is like adrenaline, I don't think our bodies can sustain this state all the time. It has to ebb and flow. When it comes it's wonderful and helps get so much done, helps carry us over bug hurdles. But when it's gone we must still continue forward - more slowly, but still forward little by little.



  • @demotlj Oh good! I really hope that helps and you enjoy it!



  • @NessIllustration That's just what I do! It does help carry me through and at the same time keep me on track.



  • @demotlj I know how you feel. I guess it depends on your goal (both short term and long term). I want to get better at drawing/painting traditionally. This year I started to carry a small sketchbook with a pencil, I draw kids characters. Sometimes it is copying another artist, and sometimes I try to do them from imagination. I do them very small (draw 3-4 little characters in one A5 sheet, so it does not take long to draw one. I try to do them during my breaks, or before sleep. These drawings stay only in my sketchbook, so I do not feel pressured to make them good. The point is to draw as often as I can on paper. I might pick some kids drawing and use them later in an illustration.

    Sometimes things came across each other in a weird way though. A couple of years ago, I wanted to learn how to use gouache. So I painted a pattern a day using gouache (a5 size) for 30 days. I did not know what to do with them after they are done - they are very different from what I drew normally. So I just let them sit on the shelf. Later my toddler daughter discovered them, and she loved them and played with them as toys for quite a few months before she got bored with them. Then I was doing a book. I wanted adding some patterns to the clothes of a few characters. I remembered these patterns I painted, so I scanned them in, and used them. So you never know what your color swatches will end up :-).


Log in to reply