Over the last two weeks, we've seen a sharp spike in global practice time, and in the number of people registering accounts as a flood of people make New Year's resolutions and start integrating art more fully into their daily lives. In fact, we've set some 7-day study time records for the site!
But we've also already starte to see a drop off as people's resolutions lapse. You might even be one of those people who is already starting to feel exhaustion creep in as the excitement of obtaining a year-long goal fades into the reality of the daily grind of earning those results.
To avoid your drawing goals becoming another forgotten resolution, here are some ideas for setting yourself up for success. Not all these ideas will work or make sense to every person, so find the ones that work for you and leave the rest. Have other ideas? Please, tell us in the comments so that everyone can benefit!
Find your why
Okay, so you've resolved to be better at drawing human anatomy (or whatever.) But what drew you to that resolution? What will you be able to do, achieve or express when you can beautifully render humans?
Maybe you chose your drawing goal because you want to be able to express a truth about your lived experience. Maybe you want to be able to show other people the things you can see in your mind's eye. Maybe you want to start or improve a career in art. Figure out why you chose that specific goal, why it is worth putting the time and effort in to achieve it.
Once you know why it's worth the effort, think about how you'll feel when you've achieved that goal -- both at the moment you realize you've mastered the skill you wanted to have, but also over the coming months and years when you apply that skill to creating your own works.
Then, on days where you are thinking about skipping your practice, think back to your why. It might not feel like a big deal to skip out on drawing some hands today, but would it be a big deal to prevent yourself from being able to create the web comic you've been brainstorming for three years now? Or to prevent yourself from becoming a freelance artist? Or to stop yourself from participating in a gallery showing next year?
Help yourself to prioritize your practice by knowing how that practice fits into the bigger picture. Be awesome to your future self.
Build reminders into your day
It might help to write down your goal, your "why," and how that goal will make you feel, and posting it up somewhere that you can see it every day. Put it on the ceiling over your bed, so it's the first thing you see when you open your eyes. Put it on your fridge, so you see it every time you go to get something to eat.
My favorite trick is to make my goal my computer's desktop image! If you have several goals, make them a desktop slideshow.
Need reminders on the go? Make your goals the background of your phone's lock screen.
If you're able to schedule emails, write yourself 4-6 letters about your goals and set them up to be delivered to you automatically throughout the year. Check in with your future self!
Want a simple reminder to practice every day? Sign up for push push notifications with us, and we'll send you a reminder at the time you pick. :)
Whether it's a single accountability buddy you check in with every week to report progress, or a whole forum or chatroom full of artists cheering you on, sometimes having other people involved in your goal can be very motivating.
Want an accountability buddy, or willing to be someone's accountability buddy? Go ahead and let us know in the comments; find new friends on Line of Action and use our private messaging system to check in with each other.
Want to become a part of the Line of Action community? Don't wait, go introduce yourself on our forums right now!
Ask your friends and family if they can check in with you once a week or once a month and provide a non-judgemental ear to listen to your progress, and provide encouragement to keep going. Put a coffee date on both your calendars right now, and make sure to schedule the next one before you leave that first one!
Make it smaller
If you've set yourself a large goal, it can be daunting and discouraging! Each day that you sit down to practice, find the smallest possible part of your goal that you can work on today. Give yourself micro-goals, and achieve throughout the year, not just at the very end or at specific milestones. See our article on this topic: Focused practice: an exercise for real improvement in 33 days
Every day that you practice is a victory, so congratulate yourself on the small stuff too!
Make it essential
Instead of letting your goal be another thing that you "have" to do, reframe how you think of it to be an essential part of your lifestyle.
You can't skip feeding yourself. You wouldn't stop taking the dog out when it needed to potty. Consider nourishing your own creative self a foundational part of your day too, instead of something you just squeeze in if you can.
Plus, if you manage to make drawing something that you do every day instead of just a couple of times a week, you are much more likely to turn it into a habit -- and habits are so much easier to maintain, because you have to think about them much less!
Keep going back
There may be days, weeks, even months during the year where you fail to stick with your goal. If you realize this has happened to you, use that awareness as a queue to gently bring yourself back to your goal. Pick up where you left off.
Stopping for a month doesn't mean that you failed. It isn't a sign that the endeavor was doomed. It doesn't mean that you aren't good enough or strong enough to stick with it. Don't give it any more power in your mind! Just pick it up again and continue on. As many times as you need to.
Remember: Practice makes progress! Keep giving yourself the gift of opportunities for progress, over and over and over again, even if they aren't all in a row.
Do you have strategies for sticking with and achieving artistic goals? Please, share them in the comments to help others!