It’s OK to Set Goals in 2021

The new year has finally arrived and for many, it’s a welcome sight. While the sheer fact that it’s now 2021 isn’t enough to mean the pandemic is over and we’re going back to our “normal” lives, it, like every day that we are fortunate to be on this earth, is another chance to start over.

In times when things are uncertain, and there are situations occurring that are out of my hands, I try to turn inward and look at the things I DO have control over. For me, this is the ability to create art. As an artist, I don’t need the physical presence of an audience in front of me to create art. Though should I choose to have one, there are virtual ways to do that. That’s not to say that artists of all kinds have not suffered from lockdowns and economic downturns, but my point is that the actual fundamental act of just creating a piece of art is generally something that is a solitary activity anyway.

This past year might have been the year you finally decided to get yourself in gear with your art business. I know I had big plans of finally trying to do some in-person market events. Clearly, that did not happen for reasons I don’t need to explain. It didn’t stop me from creating though. Sure, I did what many had to do and initiated a hard reset on my game plan for the year, but I was fortunate to be healthy and still employed full-time, so my plans didn’t change as much as they might have.

As we start into this next year, it may feel weird making a game plan or setting goals. The uncertainty of the world right now might be causing you an untold amount of stress and worry. I understand, believe me. I’m here to tell you though that it is OK to have goals, and plans, and things you want to achieve anyway. Maybe those goals are a bit modified but your artwork is not on lockdown and your creativity is not under a mandatory restriction.

I use my art to cope with occasional mental health struggles, which I’ve spoken about before in my blog post Using Art to Get Through Anxiety. Some artists have been struggling to create in the last 9 months and understandably everyone will cope with things differently. I would submit though that finding a way to return to something you are passionate about and that may have been routine for you, might actually bring you some comfort and also a bit of stress relief. Our minds are desperately craving the familiar right now, and art may just be a way to give your heart what it needs to feel a sense of peace, even if for short periods of time.

Maybe this year, with more time on your hands, you finally join a 30-day art challenge on social media. You could also finally get your website set up. Use this time to do tasks that you may have been wanting to do, but never had time to do because of various commitments that were taking you away from home. If spending one more minute cooped up in your house sounds like torture, try doing some urban sketching if weather permits in your area. A lot of cities have local groups you can join. They may or may not be still active but it’s an activity you can do where you can be around small groups of others and still social distance, depending on what your local restriction is for gathering.

(Side Note: One day I hope I can look back on this blog post and think about how weird it was back then when we weren’t allowed to do something as simple as gather together…fingers crossed)

If you are planning to set some goals this year I have a couple pieces of advice and also a resource that can help get you going. First, take out a piece of paper or open a note in your phone or tablet and do a brain dump. Write down everything you can think of that you want to do with your art or art business. Big or small, doesn’t matter. Write it all down even if it’s crazy. Next, start circling the ones you think are a high priority for you and or ones that you think you could easily achieve.

If you’re new to goal setting I would say start small and realistic. Doing that can be a great way to get your feet wet with achieving goals, especially if you’ve struggled with it in the past. Giving yourself easily achievable little wins will help keep you motivated as you work towards bigger ones.

Remember, it’s okay to find joy and set goals for something you are passionate about even in uncertain times. For some, it can be a welcome distraction and even a sense of renewed purpose. Whatever your reason for setting some goals this year, go easy on yourself if you don’t achieve everything you set out to do. No one is perfect and as I always say… Art should be fun!

Do you have goals for your art this year? Share with me in the comments!

Barb Sotiropoulos

Barb Sotiropoulos

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

2 Responses

  1. This was so wholesome – I’m sure some people (including myself) needed to hear this! Thanks for sharing – I’m looking forward to reading more of your stuff! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Jacqueline! I really appreciate you saying that and I’m glad it resonated with you. It was something I was thinking a lot about and though that maybe others could benefit from hearing it too. 🙂

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Hey, I'm Barb!

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

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