Goal Setting for Artists Part 5: Dealing with Setbacks

*This blog post is the fifth in my Goal Setting for Artist series. 

You can find Part 1 here. 

You can find Part 2 here.

You can find Part 3, with the free goal writing worksheet, here.

You can find Part 4 here.


If you’ve been following along with this goal setting series, a few things should be clear: If you’ve got a goal that you want to achieve, you should focus on measurable actions and behaviours that you have the power to control. Your goal should be specific and important. You should keep track of your progress. 

Even if you’ve set the perfect goal and formulated the perfect plan for how to achieve it, there are bound to be setbacks. There will be days when you fail to do what you’ve planned. 

I personally am very experienced in this regard! For years I’ve had a daily writing goal, but there have been times in my life when I just couldn’t maintain it. There was the time when I got a new, exhausting job that seemed to make everything an emergency. I’ve been so overwhelmed by how long a project was going to take to complete that I just decided to give up. I just assumed that I’d never get there. And, yes, there have definitely been times when I decided not to write in favour of spending some time outside on a sunny day (this is a big deal on the North West Coast)!

The key to getting back on the wagon is understanding why you’ve fallen off. Then you can decide whether you need to change your mindset, adjust your goal, or just enjoy a break. Sharing your goals and setbacks with others is another key ingredient that can give you much needed encouragement and accountability.

In this post, I list my top 4 strategies for getting back on track when I feel myself going off course:

  1. Journaling. Thanks to the wonderful Meg Maclure of Bungalow 968 Consulting Group, this has recently become one of my most helpful habits. Make some time to sit quietly and write about your experiences. What do you think is holding you back? Is there anything you can do to change your actions? Do you need to recalibrate your goal to make it more inspiring or achievable? How would it feel to stick with your plan and achieve your goal?
  2. Talk to someone who is supportive and familiar with your goal. My Artist Advising sessions are perfect for this, but you can also talk to fellow artists, past mentors, friends, and family. Sharing your goals and setbacks with others can help you to understand your problems and provide accountability.
  3. Find a buddy or group. One of my favourite strategies is to make a pact with a friend who has a similar goal. It is more fun to work with a friend and it can help to provide accountability. Just be sure that your buddy is committed to the plan or you might end up making excuses for each other!
  4. Remember your successes. Catastrophizing your setbacks and ignoring your successes is a great way to launch yourself into a shame spiral that prevents you from trying again. Make time to remember how far you’ve come. It is OK if you need a break! It might be what gives you the energy to show up again in the future.

The road to achieving your goals is likely to be a bumpy one! If you'd like to find out about how we might work together to get you on the right track, feel free to sign up for a free 20 minute call with me. I'd be happy to meet you!

Sign up for a Free Consultation here.

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