Stepping Towards Goals

Let’s imagine you have a garden at the back of your home. (And if that’s impossible, then let’s imagine you live in a different home.) In this garden you have a world full of possibilities. You can choose what to plant, such as vegetables, fruit or flowers, or nothing at all. You can choose how often you tend to it, when you harvest it and what to do with your harvest. Or perhaps you don’t want a garden at all, so you let it go wild or change the space into something else. Even though people have an idea of a “successful” garden, there really is no right or wrong. People have different priorities and ideas of success.

A garden has no “ending” or finish line. You have little victories like when your plants grow to fruition, or when a dying flower bounces back, but a garden can always be worked on or continued. That’s a really useful way to think about your mind’s growth – there is no final goal, only immediate ones. So what are your priorities? Mine would be family, art, love, human rights, emotional intelligence, LGBTQI+ issues, platonic and romantic relationships, and mental health. My goals therefore would be:

  • Create art often and work on improving my ability
  • Earn money as an artist and one day become a professional artist
  • Keep a good relationship with my parents, sister and partner
  • Put in effort to maintain friendships (which can be hard for me)
  • Act in love as much as possible
  • Always be open to learning, especially in topics I’m passionate about (emotional intelligence, feminism, racism, LGBTQI+ issues, mental health and disability)
  • Be someone that acts in align of my values
  • Create my heART Project
  • Become an art therapist

I have used many pages in my journal to write down my goals, and I do that often. (I love lists!) By periodically writing down my goals, I refine them over time until I am certain of what is important to me and how I’d like to continuously cultivate my garden. Just like if you had a physical garden, try to visualise your dream self and life and what little steps could be taken to go in the right direction. Don’t focus too much on the “final” goal yet, because your goals will hopefully always get bigger as you go along in life. Also, if you focus on your final goal too much, it might seem too large, unattainable and overwhelming. The most important thing is to think about what path to take – what path mirrors your values and dreams? What actions can you take to step in the right direction?

The way I do it is that I write down a list of my major goals and then I write a list of the specific things I have to do to attain that goal. It’s okay if you don’t exactly know what to do, just write down a rough idea. Then, write a list on things you can do now and only focus on those, building on them as you tick things off. Here’s an example:

Major Goal

I want to become a professional artist. This means I want to support myself financially with my art and have it as my full-time job.

specific goals

  • Learn from others on how to improve my art
  • Create art I think is good enough to sell
  • Create an audience that might be interested in supporting my work
  • Save up for and buy equipment that will help my art process (for example, a paper trimmer/guillotine)
  • Create an Etsy store where I can sell originals, stickers and prints
  • Advertise that my commissions are open

SPECific goals for now

  • Try to draw or paint everyday
  • Watch YouTube videos such as art tutorials, studio vlogs, and speed paints from artists I want to be like
  • Buy sticker paper and practice printing my designs on it
  • Post your art that can be bought (like prints and commissions) on facebook for your friends
  • Invite friends over to do art together to keep motivated
  • Create and upload artworks on an art Instagram page

And there’s a lot more. You can create a list for even more specific small goals too, and you can do that as many times as you’d like. Remember to keep them realistic! The point is to start working on your garden now without being too overwhelmed by seemingly unattainable goals. If you put it off, your produce will just get rotten, so to reach our major goals, you need to maintain it now. Little steps are so important. Don’t judge your progress or compare it to others, because most likely they are doing the exact same thing, and that’s not helpful for anyone. Don’t judge your pace or your mistakes – you are doing exactly what you need to be doing.

If you have realised your values and goals in life, you are already successful. The hard part is to start and continue on your path. Focus on what you can do now, continuously act on your dreams as they grow and know that you can do whatever you want with your garden. Keep walking forward, even after mistakes and knock-backs, because every step is essential.

If you could get anything from this blog post, then let it be this:

“What can you do now?”

The Future You

At school, teachers at some point ask us, “Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?” or, “What is your dream job?” My dad and I have been preparing for my future for years. When I was little, I wanted to be a pop star like Miley Cyrus, but after realising I couldn’t sing, dad said I should go for a career that guarantees a job. At some points of my life I’d dreamt of being an author, an artist, a game creator, a script writer, or a movie director. I mainly kept these dreams hidden, because I really wanted to impress my family, others and myself. I had no doubt that I was going to finish high-school and I believed I definitely would go to university. I was going to have an impressive job like an engineer, doctor, lawyer, optometrist and the list goes on. I love my dad – I know he wanted me to have a good life without worrying about money and he believed in me so much that he thought I could get any job.

As much as I wanted to impress myself and others, my heart just wasn’t in it. I didn’t dare to try to be an artist, because people told me that art could only be a hobby. It was when I was 16 that everything changed. After my attempt I was in a psychiatric ward where I was extremely self destructive and I didn’t want a future at all. All I wanted was to die. That experience changed me – I was afraid of leaving the house, because I would be overwhelmed and have panic attacks for a long time after coming home from the ward. I knew that I couldn’t go back to school, because of fear and anxiety, so I felt crushed when I became someone I’d never guessed I’d be – a high-school dropout. I was in the Boxhill ward when when my family said they would support me if I wanted to be an artist. I was so emotional when I was given this support to be someone I always wanted to be inside .

5 years ago I would never expect that my life would be the way it is. It is so scary to think about the future. People focus so much on what career we have and not who they are as a person. When thinking about the future, you can be so obsessed with the outcome that you never end up doing it. I find this particularly hard since I’m impatient and I often have my head stuck in the clouds. I write down so many goals of what I’d like to do and because my vision is always looking at the future, I end up not doing it in the now. The thing about being in the now is that you can see our current status. Our morals, values, beliefs and identity can be pulled apart and analysed. Are you satisfied with who you are? Do your actions reflect your values or what you find important? What parts do you wish to accept? What parts need to grow or change?

I know that picking yourself apart isn’t always kind. In fact, it can be extremely hard to accept it or see it. If you are not ready to do this, that’s okay. But when people ask you, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I believe what is more important than your job, status in society or how much money you have, is who you are. Five years is a long time and people change. What kind of person do you wish to change to? Someone who is more generous? Kinder? Someone who has broken through hating yourself to loving yourself? Rather than asking, “What is your dream job?” we should ask, “What do you dream to become?” Loving yourself and who you are as of now is important, but the moment you don’t want to change at all is the moment you stop growing. Growth is so important and we should all open ourselves to it.

I ask myself, “What do you want to be in the future?” and my answer is to be more mindful and loving. What about you? What do you want to be?