Welcome back to our Ask Angella series, where we do exactly that.
If you’ve ever had a potentially sensitive creative question, we want you to throw it our way so that we can hand it over to Angella: our resident art writer, expert, and all-around kind, funny and wise human being. Here’s the question we’ll tackle this month:
“I am overwhelmed by all of my goals and ambitions for 2020. How can I set intentions in a manageable way?”
A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology reported that it takes over two months—66 days to be exact—to create a new habit. It takes time and daily effort to set new intentions and the key to keeping momentum is positive self-talk, professional support, and patience. Creative intention and goal-setting doesn’t have to be a stressful endeavor, especially when you focus on your overall dreams, values, and vision. Here are a few tips to ease into the new year with resilience and forward motion.
Think About the Why
“Hold your goals loosely and try to figure out what you really want,” says Instagram personality Jedidiah Jenkins, who has excellent advice on how to think differently about the overall values that will guide your process of goal-making. “A dream is something in your spirit that you need to produce, say, or do. A goal is what you think the manifestation of that dream is.” Think about what you want: what kind of life you want to live, what type of person you want to be, and how you want your work to influence the world around you. Think big and pinpoint tasks that will help you get closer to that vision. It’s more than likely that your path in life will change, so be open to taking a detour.
Say It Out Loud
Accountability helps! Research reveals that saying what you want to accomplish aloud not only helps you confirm your goals to yourself on a daily basis but it also creates the gentle pressure necessary to keep you accountable. Frame your intentions as positive proposals with certain outcomes, for example, if your goal is to make one drawing a day, start with reminding yourself how much you enjoy drawing and that you’ll only grow in technique and skill as you do it. Positive reinforcement through your own self-talk and by eliciting the support of your friends and professional circle will make it more feasible to achieve your goal.
Set a Range of Achievable Goals, Small to Large
Goals need to be challenging but attainable. Overly complex goals that lie out of your skill level may become overwhelming and negatively impact your morale, productivity, and motivation. Give yourself plenty of time and resources to hit your goals, big or small and remember anything worth doing takes time. Be realistic with yourself. If one of your goals is to master watercolors, consider the amount of time it might take. How many hours a day can you dedicate to this goal? How many times a week? Do you plan to work in the morning or evening? With friends?
Find a System That Works For You
Do you work better with a reward system? With someone giving you an intense pep talk? A schedule? I once joined a Slack channel with other writers who needed other writers to encourage them to finish writing projects. When I hit a wall or found myself in a rut, I’d open that Slack channel and read messages from other struggling (but talented!) writers who not only understood my position but wouldn’t let me procrastinate.
Rituals and Tools
How can you incorporate your goals into your daily life? I once read about a man who set a resolution to watch the sunset everyday and in order to do that, he made a point to post a sunset photo to his social media every time he saw one. It helped him keep track of his goal and it also assigned an urgent task to his intention that was clear and easy to execute. To that same end, don’t be afraid to let go of your goal if it doesn’t make sense to you. This isn’t about making excuses, but rather, remaining true to yourself and your overall values. An intention dropped is as good as an intention realized. Do you have old intentions or goals that you’re holding onto unconsciously, out of habit?
Approach Yourself With Kindness
Don’t compare yourself to other people. Some of the best advice anyone gave me was that all that mattered was that I was waking up each day with the intention of accomplishing what I set out to accomplish, despite how close I had gotten the day before. Making the effort is the important part; beating yourself up is a waste of your energy and it won’t get you any closer to your dream. Remember, behavior takes time to adjust over so be patient with yourself if you don’t hit your mark each time. The importance is waking up each day, determined to try again.