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:
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.
- 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?”