5 Steps to Make Sure You Are Not Planning to Fail


As an artist and businessperson, you are not planning to fail.

We don’t set out to fail. It just happens — but it is not just random bad luck either.

If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else. ― Yogi Berra

Setting art career goals is critical to your success as a visual artist.

Study successful entrepreneurs. You will find setting goals and using them to make decisions is a trait they share. For certain, they are not planning to fail. Goal setting helps them keep on track.

Live Your Best Artist's LIfe
Live Your Best Artist’s LIfe

What are your art career goals?

As a creative entrepreneur, you need clear goals for your art career?

Your goals should be realistic and prioritized with workable plans for reaching them. Otherwise, you have a hobby, not an art career.

One ambitious artist’s goals

I know an artist whose top goal is seeing her art as part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). That singular goal drives everything she does.

Does she have other goals? Of course, but in one way or the other, they all feed towards her primary goal. These include:

  • Increase sales and value of her artwork.
  • Representation by top national and international galleries.
  • Respect from her peers, critics and art collectors for her work’s value and creativity.

Those are lofty goals for any artist. To be fair, I think they are not realistic for many artists. Anyone can say they work towards placement in MoMA or another elite museum. The facts are only a few have all the necessary ingredients to make good on such a goal. Your idea of what success looks like is different. You do know how to choose success, right?

The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.

Succeeding on Your Own Terms Is Precious.

The cool and comforting thing about goals are they are unique to you. No one else’s opinions matter. You can listen and reflect, but in the end the only goals that matter are those you choose. I believe as long as you set goals that stretch you to grow, you can’t go wrong.

Learning to assess and evaluate your art career goals is a process

You need an honest and accurate assessment of the value and quality of your work. To know and be right without asking is a rare gift. It comes easier to some artists than others.

Most experienced artists have a decent take on where their work fits in the art world. That is different than having a clear understanding of your skills, resources, and capabilities. That wisdom is priceless and powerful.

Goals are essential building blocks to success

Solid goals are building blocks to a successful art career. They form the foundation and inform the decisions on  which actions to take. Things change in life and business. You need fungible goals you can exchange and replace to keep your art career on track.

It is easier if you break your goals down in time. For instance, set five-year, one-year and quarterly goals. Give yourself time for adequate planning for each period. Make sure your goals are possible and realistic.

It's not a dream if you are living it. Art Marketing Toolkit Project
Become a member.

Here is a five-step plan to help you get to create realistic goals for your art career.

  1. Determine Your Goals. Take the time to figure out what is important to you and your family. Use the Goldilocks theory where you make them neither too hard nor too easy, but just right
  2. Rank Your Goals. Focus on what is most important and what is doable now versus what is possible as a future goal.
  3. Create a S.M.A.R.T Action Plan. Smart is well-known goal setting acronym. Read this informative blog post for more details and insights on using it:
    S = Specific
    M = Measurable
    A = Attainable
    R = Realistic
    T = Timely 
  4. Revisit & Assess Your Goals & Actions. Get it on your calendar. Set aside the time to review your goals and your success in achieving them. In time, you will know if are on track, or need to revise your plans. Maybe you have had a breakthrough, or maybe you have had a setback. That’s life. Just learn to adjust and keep moving forward. 
  5. Share Your Success. Share your success with others. Share it with yourself. When you achieve a milestone, let others know you have gotten there. Take the time to enjoy your achievement. Find the time to share your success with others. Show them how you got there. Share your goal planning techniques, so they can emulate what you have done.

 If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things. ~ Albert Einstein

The better you plan, the easier it becomes to know the steps to advance your art career. You can enjoy great success on your terms when you make realistic plans. Work on willpower and determination to complete the steps in your plans. Like exercising a muscle, the more you do these things, they become easier to do.

The ONE Thing

The ONE ThingI am a firm believer that goals are essential to building a successful career. Recently, a book was recommended to me. While it did not change my thinking on the importance of goal planning, it did change my thinking about how to plan. I found the book hard to put down with revelations that came on what seemed like every page.

I’m not alone in my reaction to The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller. It’s been a huge success. It has made more than 175 appearances on national bestseller lists, including #1 Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today. It won 12 book awards, has been translated into 20 languages, chosen as one of the Top 5 Business Books of 2013 by Hudson’s Booksellers and one of Top 30 Business Books of 2013 by Executive Book Summaries.

It is a book you will read more than once. There are so many revelations and great ideas in it that you cannot absorb them all in one reading.


The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.


You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. Thanks, Barney, for this reminder to set forth a plan. I find that often I am too busy to plan. What that means is that I haven’t made the plan a priority. I’m going to. Starting now. And I’ve ordered Mr. Keller’s book.

    Thanks, Barney, for your always sage advice.


{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to Receive Tools Artists Use Download!

Search This Site