From Goal Athlete to Goal Artist

By August 30, 2010 5 Comments

Once A Week by Rose Deniz

(Note: this beautiful image is from artist and blogger Rose Deniz. Her work is fabulous. Check it out.)
It’s a funny thing about “goals” — the term has come to be associated with a pumped-up, superhero, muscle-man connotation. We’ve come to think of achieving goals like climbing to the top of some mountain, using all our might, and then standing triumphantly at the peak, proclaiming “I did it!” – as if goal achievement is an athletic feat and we are goal-athletes.
That paradigm doesn’t work for many of us. If the process is going to be all about sweat and struggle, I’m not interested. If it’s all about might and machismo, I’m rolling my eyes, wondering when I allowed Tony Robbins to go from the television into my head.
But I have goals. I still believe in setting goals and working toward them.
That got me thinking: what if I shifted my paradigm from “goal athlete” to “goal artist”?

Goal Athlete

In the goal athlete frame of mind, I think about goals like this:
What’s the goal? What’s my deadline? What are the linear steps to get there? What’s the plan? Who will be my key supports?
Some thought like, “the more work, time, effort I can put into this, the better” shows up.
There’s a need to say, “I will do it. I can do it. Yes I can.”
Stick-to-it-ness (a.k.a. willpower, self-discipline, motivation) seems to be the main quality I need to get the job done. It’s about stamina and execution. It’s all very clear and direct, very hyped-up and adrenaline producing.

Goal Artist

When I think of myself as a goal artist, very different thoughts come up:
A voice inside says, “Tara, careful: don’t make the plan too specific. Leave room for life to do its work, for coincidences, for what you can’t plan, for magic.
Finding ease seems more important than working hard.
There’s no pumped up positive thinking needed. Instead, I need to trust the process.
The goal itself gets to be a work of art. Its beauty, originality and flair matter. “Publish book by 2011” doesn’t cut it. “Create a beautiful book that feels like serene white space and helps brilliant women live centered lives” just might.
I know the path won’t be linear. Progress will happen through flashes of insight, leaps forward. Detours will lead to fruitful places. Important things will gestate in so-called fallow periods.
There’s room for intuition and spontaneity. To get the job done, I’ll need to sense what’s needed in each moment, and do that.
I get to embrace downtime and not worry when I don’t feel called to create. That huge monkey about “staying motivated” isn’t on my back.
A new monkey replaces it, one about courage and fear. Pushing my own edges, doing what feels scary, venturing into the unknown becomes daily work.
I know I’m in partnership with a creative process that I’m not in control of. It’s not my problem if things don’t go as planned, because the plan was just my little set of expectations and desires. What could be more trivial than that?
I’m the artist, not the director of the show. I trust. I get to be carried along in the waves of what is and what is meant to be.
I’m relaxed, in the deepest sense of the word. I’m relaxed in the way a honest chat with a dear old friend makes you feel, the way you feel when you remember that it’s all going to be okay and that it’s all already okay.
From there, creativity happens. Real productivity happens.
What’s in the background isn’t a sense of needing to fix, stressing or rushing. The background is a music of gratitude, sweetness, rightness.
Being a goal artist. It’s my new tune. Visit your own studio and give it a try.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Carma says:

    Beautifully said! I found myself taking a deep breath after reading this post. How often have I, in the midst of wanting to get a project done, approached it with the Goal Athlete perspective. I wonder how much different it may have turned out if I would’ve allowed ‘real creativity, real productivity’ to occur by approaching it as a Goal Artist. Thanks for sharing!

  • Tracy says:

    I love this. Ever since I read it on Monday I’ve been letting it sink in a bit more each moment. I took the Goal Athlete approach this summer to my “project” of finding a new place to live -and because things that I couldn’t control took place (many details) I am still in my old place. Many applauded me for my Athlete-strategy, and considered it ‘surefire’ – I did too. So I feel a bit undone and bewildered that I didn’t achieve success. Although, now I’m redefining success a bit. I didn’t have to move, just wanted to, with the goal of saving money. Thank you for the new perspective.

  • Tara says:

    How cool that you are right in this place of redefining success and exploring new ways to get there. There’s something to this gentler way, for sure. I’m going to do a Part II on “how to be a goal artist” with more practical stuff. Stay tuned. Thanks for reading and for sharing your experience.

  • Tara says:

    Fabulous – thanks for sharing! And yay for the things that make us take deep breaths. Wishing you all the best for trying out a goal artist approach and seeing what happens!

  • […] read an earlier post introducing the concept of the Goal Artist, “Goal Athlete to Goal Artist,” click here. Share and […]

We are on a mission to help you realize your playing big dream.
Dive into our resources here: