TRANSCRIPT: Ep. 122 Set Goals (Not Resolutions) For 2021


Miriam Schulman:
Well, hello. This is Miriam Schulman, Chief Inspiration Officer of The Inspiration Place and host of The Inspiration Place Podcast. I am so happy that you’re here. You’re listening to episode 122. I’m so grateful that you’re joining me today.

First of all, I just want to wish you a happy New Year, my friend. Welcome to 2021. Last year was a long year, and this year, for the first episode, I thought it’d be a really great idea to talk about setting goals. Not resolutions, but goals. Now, this is a skill that I’ve mastered over the years, and I actually kind of take it for granted that other people don’t have these skills, so if that’s you, don’t feel bad because you’re definitely not alone.

I’m always getting asked questions about how I set goals, not only inside my Artist Incubator program, but even in the mastermind that I belong to with a business coach, people in there have asked me questions about goal setting as well. We’ll get to that in a moment. What most people do though, is not set goals, and that’s actually the problem. What most people do is set New Year’s resolutions, which doesn’t quite work that well. That’s why I never do them anymore.

In fact, there is a statistic that says about 60% of us create New Year’s resolutions, but only 8% keep them. There’s a better way. Instead of creating New Year’s resolutions, why don’t you make this year, 2021, the year that you create and reach your goals. Now, here’s why. Most people don’t set goals.

However, according to a Harvard Business Review study, those that do set goals are 10 times more likely to reach their goals than those that don’t, so today, this is what we’re going to talk about. In this episode, you’ll discover how to set and reach your goals using my seven-step process. We’re going to talk about why it’s helpful to choose a theme or a word for the year, plus, I’m going to be sharing my own big plans for 2021, and I’ll also let you in on some things that didn’t quite work so well last year so that you can learn from my mistakes. Let’s get started. What are your goals for 2021?

If not specifically for this year, let me just ask you, “What is your dream? What is your art dream? What is it that you fantasize about?” I’m always surprised when I interview candidates for the Artist Incubator Mastermind, and I ask them to share their art career fantasy, how much people struggle with this, and it’s maybe because you’re not giving yourself space to dream. Some artists don’t really have any kind of dreams or goals, so those people I speak to, here’s what they say when I ask them.

They’ll share something very vague, very non-specific, something like, “Oh, I just want to get my art out there,” or perhaps they’ll say, “I just want to make enough money to cover my art supplies.” These are not motivating goals, my friend. Not for them. It’s not going to keep them going not to do the hard work it takes to make a business out of art, and as a business coach, it’s not motivating for me to hear that either, so what I’ve learned is those artists who lack vision for their future are not going to have the grit or the commitment to make the kind of progress that they really need. Here’s something I want you to know. Listen carefully.

You’re not going to go any further than your dream. That’s going to limit you. You must have a dream. You must have a vision, which means you also must have a goal. Not having a goal is kind of like getting into your car and just driving around aimlessly, until you run out of gas.

You need to know where you’re going, oh, and why. Now, you’ll hear me talk a lot about profiting from your passion, and the reason why is because revenue goals are a really valuable metric because you can measure them, but they are not the only goal. I usually do set an income goal, and what I’ve started doing last year is setting what I call the goal beyond the goal. This is something I learned from my friend and a guest of this podcast, Suzy Ashworth. She was a guest on episode number 100.

I’ll be sure to link that in the show notes. Let’s say, for example, you want to make 50,000 a year from your art. A goal beyond the goal is you set the goal to be 75,000, or even 100,000. Another way I’ve heard this put is to create a stretch goal. If you feel, let’s say, that 50,000 is possible, set a goal that feels uncomfortable, really something that takes you out of your comfort zone.

Remember when I said that you’re not going to go any further than your dream? That’s why your dream actually has to be bigger than where you want to go. Another thought leader I follow, Brooke Castillo, takes this even further. She challenges her followers to set one goal that not only feels uncomfortable, but actually feels impossible. Meaning, not that it’s impossible for a human, not like, “Okay, I want to jump out the window and fly,” but meaning, it doesn’t feel possible for the person you are right now and you will need to evolve into the next version of yourself in order to reach that goal, so creating a goal that stretches you, a goal beyond the goal, a dream that’s even bigger than where you want to go.

In 2020, my word for the year was evolve, and that I’ll link to choose a word for the year. It was a great conversation I had with my friend, Kimra Luna, where we talk about choosing a word or a theme, and it is relevant for today’s conversation, so I’ll make sure to link that episode with Kimra in the show notes. In 2020, evolve was my word for the year, and it really served me well during all the unexpectedness that 2020 threw us. We’ll talk a lot more about choosing a theme or a word during my seven-step process. It’s actually one of the seven steps, so I will tell you more about that in a moment, but in terms of your goal, it does need to be a goal that makes you feel that you really do have to push yourself to get there.

In terms of an impossible or stretch goal, my income goal for 2020 was actually 500,000. Now, I didn’t hit that goal. However, I know that I made a lot more income than I would have had I set a much smaller goal, and I was really happy with the number I hit, so creating a huge goal, and then creating stepping stones to get there is going to push you and help you evolve as a person and make you step into a role that you feel really good about. Okay, so I’m going to break down my goal-setting process into seven steps. The dreaming part, that is kind of your step zero. You really do need a vision for where you want to go.

Step one is writing down your goal. Write down your goals. Let me ask you, “Do you write down your goals and dreams on a regular basis, or do you simply just think about them without actually recording them anywhere?” If you don’t write them down, you’re like most people. According to a study by psychology professor, Dr. Gail Matthews, you’re actually 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams simply by writing them down on a regular basis.

If you’re like me and you want to create a regular journal process, and you want to do the artist’s way, you want to fill three pages and you’re stuck on what to write about on those pages, just writing your goals down every day, that’s a good place to start. Now, why is it that writing your goals down is going to help you? Let’s talk about it. One theory has to do with the way our brains work, so as you may know, imagination happens on the right side of the brain, but when we write it down, we’re actually activating the logic side or the left side of our brain. This creates a whole mind consciousness, using both the right side to dream and the left side with logic, creates a whole mind consciousness around your goals, and it puts your brain to work to look for ways to help you satisfy these goals.

Your brain will continue to help you find inspired actions that will move you forward towards your dreams. Now, often, I love to start the year off by brainstorming my dreams in an art journal. I might make a huge list and use big, large, pretty bubble letters, so not only am I writing down my goals and desires, but by spending the time to color them in, I’m meditating on those goals, so if you think that type of art journaling would work for you, I invite you to try it. It’s a lot of fun, and it actually is not a waste of time. It’s highly effective in imprinting those goals in your brain.

When I create goals, I’ll usually have personal goals, as well as business goals, so that’s something else I want you to think about. It’s super important, first of all, not to create too many goals, maybe seven to 10 goals total, and also make sure they’re balanced in more than one area. For example, you may want a health goal that has to do with your eating, or your exercise, or your weight. You may want to create an income goal, a personal development goal, a spiritual goal, a creative goal, or an intellectual goal. I like to make sure, like I said, that I have no more than seven or 10 goals, and that they’re balanced.

What do these types of goals look like? A creative goal might be you want to create a certain number of pieces for a new collection, or you want to create three collections for the year, or you want to learn a new technique like oil painting. Those are great creative goals. Again, the goal needs to be specific though. Vague goals such as, “This year, I’m going to paint more,” that’s not going to work out too well. The destination should be specific so that you can measure how much progress you’re making.

This is actually one of the steps in the seven-step goal setting process. We’ll get there in a moment. Don’t worry, my friend. I know I’m jumping ahead a bit, and that’s because usually, like with all my systems, steps are interrelated, but the first step that we talked about is writing it down. Now, I just want to invite you to imagine other types of goals you can have that are not income specific.

Income goals are great, and there’s nothing wrong with making money. If you are resistant about creating a money goal, you may want to examine that to see if you have any kind of money blocks around that. However, there are other goals you can create that will also create that kind of sustainability in your business. For example, you may want to grow your email subscribers by 1,000 people. That’s a specific goal that is measurable and has a specific outcome.

I was helping an Artist Incubator client grow her email list, and as part of that strategy session, I told her, “Hey, write it down. Write down right now where your email list is at so that we can see how this is working,” so she checked in with me. She said, “Hey, within 24 hours, I actually added 50 names,” and then she checked back with me in two weeks, “Oh my gosh, Miriam, your strategy worked like magic,” and she already had 500 names on her list. Now, of course, the strategy I helped her develop was a powerful one, but tracking the progress of the goal is the gasoline that is going to fuel her success. I just want to quickly review what I’m talking about.

Think about it this way. Your goal is your destination. Whatever strategy or plan you create is how you’re going to get there, your car, your rocket ship for getting there, but measuring and tracking it, that’s the gasoline that’s going to motivate you to reach your goal, and this works with all kinds of goal setting. Again, so many people get this wrong. Even, like I said, the people inside the mastermind that I’m a part of, and these are men and women making several $100,000 a year in their business.

That’s part of the criteria for belonging to this group. My business coach was doing a goal planning session with us inside our mastermind, and one of my peers asked, “Okay. Now, that we’ve written our goals, what do we do? We just take them out and look at them?” I’m like shaking my head.

No, so I interjected. I was like, “You create a plan, and then you execute the plan.” That is step two. You need a plan, so your goal is the destination, but you still need a plan or a roadmap to get there. The way I like to think about my goal setting is you start with the end in mind.

You start with the goal, and then you back into the goal when you create the plan. If I had a weight loss goal, you don’t just declare your weight, and then think about the weight you want every once in a while, or take out that piece of paper with that number on it. That’s magical thinking. You follow an eating plan, you follow an exercise plan, and you track to make sure it’s working. With a particular income goal, I actually look at my past success for clues, so my past success usually helps predict future success.

For example, last year, my Watercolor Portrait Academy launch made $54,000, and that was during May, 2020, so during COVID. This year, I’m predicting that I can launch that same course twice and be on track to generate $100,000 from that one course. I can do the same thing with planning my art sales. I know that a typical portrait commission for me is around $5,000. I also know how many clients I would need to contact or how many art shows I need to be in to generate those commissions, so that’s how you back into the goal.

You start with, “What will create this result?,” and then back into, “What are the steps you need to take to get there?” Now, you might be thinking, “Miriam, I’ve never launched an art class before,” or, “I’ve never done whatever it is you want to do before.” That’s okay. That’s why we track our progress. Step three is tracking your progress, and tracking your progress is critical.

You want to be flexible with your plans, always checking to see if what you’re doing is working. That way, you can pivot if it isn’t. I hate to keep bringing up the weight loss example, but it’s something we’ve all experienced, at least most of us. Let’s just pretend you ordered a … I’m not going to throw in an actual brand name, but a brand name, weight loss meal service.

Now, you’re not going to just blindly eat the food. You’re going to weigh yourself. Make sure it’s working, and guess what? If you are, [started 00:17:59] found that you were gaining weight eating their food, you’ll change your plan, right? Same thing is true with selling art.

You’re going to try something. Did it work? Do you need to tweak it with something they new? Doesn’t mean you have to toss the entire plan out, maybe you need to do something differently. Maybe there’s a nuance that you’re not quite getting.

Sometimes you can tweak it, test it. If you want to save time and get to your goals faster, it really helps to enlist help from a mentor or a guide who can help you skip some of that common mistakes and help you identify why something may not be working as well as you want it to, or help you lay out what that plan is. Let’s circle back to the planning phase of your goal setting. Notice this is an iterative process. You’re going to try, you’re going to track, you’re going to tweak.

You’re going to try, you’re going to track, you’re going to tweak. Now, I’ve talked about this on the podcast before, creating a commission, creating your art, launching an online course, this is all part of your production plan. What you produce, that’s going to create those income goals you want. Any kind of business needs assets. Your assets are the art you create that’s for sale, your art classes that you can sell.

Those are all assets that you have in your business. The next piece is pricing it for profit, your profit plan. When you really want to add rocket fuel to your art business, you’re going to have to implement both of these with a prospect plan in mind, so you can’t just build your assets and price them, you got to find people who either want to learn, what it is you’re teaching or want to collect art, and then you also need a promotion plan, so you’re going to use these plans to help back into your goals. If you want to go listen to the episode, the Passion to Profit framework, you can go listen to that. It’s episode number 66.

We’ll put the link in the show notes, or just go to, and you can also read about it in my free eBook, The Artist Profit Plan, so I talk about it at there as well. That’s the five things you don’t need and the five things that you do. You’ll find that, Back to the goal setting. Once I set my goals for the year, I actually plug my promotion dates into my calendar.

Once I do that, then the focus switches from dreaming and planning to execution. In order to do that, it’s really important to break your goals into smaller, more manageable chunks. I usually like to think of my goals as quarterly goals, and then also, even monthly goals. Another key in my planning is to break goals into more manageable chunks. Usually, I like to think about quarterly goals, and once I do that, I can see that things are more doable.

By the way, not all of my yearly goals need to be worked on every quarter. There are some things that I may work on for a specific season and put aside that you don’t have to work on all seven to 10 of your goals every single month. Step four, like I said, is breaking your goals into milestones, into these bite-size pieces. All right, so let me give you an example. For me personally, I’m working on a long-term goal to write a book.

That was actually my big goal for 2020. However, I made a few critical goal setting mistakes. Writing a book is kind of a vague goal, so this year, I am not repeating that mistake. For 2021, my very specific goal is to get a publishing contract. Now, I’ve broken this goal down into quarters.

For quarter one, I’m creating a book proposal. I can’t remember if I told you what a book proposal is, but in case you don’t know, let me just explain quickly so you don’t feel I’m talking over you, because I didn’t know what this was either. Basically, if you’re writing a non-fiction book, the book proposal is what you show the publishers to say what your book is about, and it’s actually a very lengthy and involved document. It’s really like a sales proposal for the book itself, and first, I have to shop that around to agents, and then the agents are going to shop it to publishers, and my goal is to get this published by a publishing house, not self-published book. That is one of my goals for quarter one, but that is a specific goal to move forward, my goal of getting a publishing contract. Now, I want to make this more actionable for you in terms of, specifically for your art career.

Now, let’s set an example that perhaps your goal is to create four collections this year. That is an easy number to break into quarters. You can back into your goal, so that means you’re going to create a collection each quarter or each season, and then you need to decide, “How many paintings is in your collection? Is it 12?” Well, that would be a painting each week.

“Is it 20 paintings in a collection?” Then, you’d have to paint a little faster. “How long does it take you to create each one?” You break down your goal and you back it into a plan that is more actionable so that you know what you need to work on each week that’s going to move you forward towards that goal. You want to do this with all of your goals.

For example, let’s say you wanted to add 1,000 new email subscribers to your list. Well, that’s about 250 per quarter, or that’s about 20 new people each week. Now, once you’ve broken it down this way, the goal will start to feel less impossible and you can go to work on executing a plan. Now, of course, if I could program your brain like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, you’d be all set, but as humans, and we’re all human, we’ve got emotions that get in the way, which is why I always find it super valuable to choose a theme or a word for the year. The theme really does help with the emotional side of goal setting.

Step five is choose a word or a theme. By the way, I must always choose a word. I can’t remember a time where I’ve chosen a theme, but I do know a lot of people who, a single word is not quite right for them. They’ll choose a mantra for the year, they’ll choose a theme for the year. I always choose a word.

I like to choose a word that describes how I want to feel or who I want to become. Last year, I knew in order to reach my goals, I needed to evolve into the next version of myself. Lord only knew how much we all needed to evolve just to manage the circumstances. However, that is why I chose the word, evolve, and it was nice to fall back on that word when I needed to keep going. It turned out to be a really good word for all the unexpectedness of 2020.

Just to give you an example or a sample of other words I’ve used that have helped me, harmony was one of the first word themes for the year I chose. It was really powerful, harmony. Another word I’ve chose was purpose, gratitude, and for 2021, I decided to choose the word, inspire. Now, the reasons I chose the word inspire actually might surprise you, because I imagine many of you think that I chose it because that is the name of my podcast, The Inspiration Place and the name of my online art class site, because I want to inspire others, but actually, it’s much more than that. You see, each year, when I set my goals and intentions for my art business, I set an income goal, but I also set what I like to call an impact goal. Initially, I actually thought impact was going to be my word for 2021, that that would be my theme.

However, when I choose a word, one of the first things I do to make sure that this is the word that will stay with me, that’ll stick for the whole year, one of the first things I do is I look up in the dictionary the definition of the word to see if the dictionary definition resonates as well, and the word, impact didn’t. It’s both a noun and a verb, so I’m going to read to you the definitions, and this is not, by the way, to criticize you if you’re considering that word, impact, or saying it’s the wrong word choice for anybody. I just knew it was the wrong word choice for me. Here is what I found. Impact as a noun, the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another. Nope.

That did not resonate. The second definition, impact as a verb says come into forcible contact with another object. That also, I didn’t like either, so both of them, I didn’t like the whole force that is part of the word impact. It just didn’t feel right for me. Now, there’s another definition of the word, impact, also verb, that says have a strong effect on someone or something, and that is a great definition and that felt okay, but I decided I needed something softer for 2021, and one of the other words I was thinking about was inspire.

Oddly enough, I’ve actually never chosen inspire as my word theme for the year, even though it’s the name of my brand and my business. When I looked it up, I knew the word was perfect, so here is what it says. Inspire as a verb, fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. Holy cow, I was like, “That’s it.” What I really loved about it and what really cemented this word as my theme for the year was the use of the parentheses around the word, someone, so I’m going to read the definition back to you twice.

I’m going to read it with the word someone and without, because the parentheses shows that it’s optional, so first, fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. Okay. Now, I’m going to read it without someone. Fill with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. Why is that use of the parenthesis so important for me?

Well, after the year we’ve all had, I knew that just as important as it is for me to inspire all those someones, inspire you and all the someones, I love the idea that I could also use inspire and leave out the word, someone, and the definition shifts, because after the year we’ve all had, in order for me to have more impact on others, my original choice for the theme for the year, the definition of have a strong effect on someone or something, I know that first, I have to inspire myself. How about you, my friend? Have you chosen a word for a theme for 2021, and if so, I’d love to hear what it is? I hope that I inspired you and you know how you are going to inspire yourself. Just want to remind you that I love to hear from my listeners.

You can send me an email or send me a direct message on Instagram. I’m @schulmanart over there, or if you like, you can leave a comment on my blog. The show notes for this episode is Okay. We’re not done with the seven steps. We are up to step number six, enlist help.

Oh, boy, getting help is critical. In fact, I heard someone say recently that if your dream doesn’t require other people, then your dream is too small. Let me tell you a little story to help illustrate this. Over the December break, my daughter’s iPhone fell in the toilet, right? We’ve all been there, right?

While we were waiting for her new phone to arrive, I offered to help her, and I said, “Hey, you can use my old phone because I actually also just replaced my phone.” My phone was so old that it didn’t even count for an upgrade. It wasn’t even an iPhone 6. I think it was an iPhone S, that had like no trade-in value, but I had the old iPhone still around and I figured I could just put her SIM card into my old phone and she’d be good to go. However, we had a problem, because I didn’t know that you had to wipe the phone clean before doing that, and what got really screwed up was my Apple ID was in her phone, and then her phone number got attached to my phone and my Apple ID. Things got really crazy and really stressful.

A lot of anxious tears going on, not just hers, but mine definitely as well, and both of us got more and more frustrated, adding and removing passwords until she could no longer access her Apple ID, even on her computer, so when her new phone did arrive, and at that point, I thought, “Oh, I’ll just pop her, the SIM card into that.” I thought the problem would be solved, but no, it didn’t. Basically, long story short, I said, “Okay. I give up. Just go to the Verizon store and get some help.”

She went. A calm clerk helped her, and 15 minutes later, she had her phone working, she had her laptop working, she had her Apple ID, she had a password, everything was fine. Now, in business, I enlist professional help all the time. This comes in two forms. The first kind comes in the form of paying a contractor or a team member to help me get work done.

Again, like I said, if your dream doesn’t require anyone to help you, your dream is too small. For example, I don’t edit this podcast myself. My team also creates the graphics for it. I have someone who answers customer service. I get a lot of help.

I am still the one that casts the vision. I write my own episodes for the podcast. I art direct how I want the look and feel to be, but I definitely don’t execute everything myself, so that is one way to get help, is that you pay someone to actually do the work. I know for many of you who are still very much on your own, this may not seem something that’s attainable to you, but let me tell you, there are many ways you can still enlist help. In my early, early days, I had high school students who interned for me, some for free, some for pay.

Basically, I paid them the babysitting rates. They helped me with social media, listing things on Etsy or on my website, packing and shipping prints, and many more tasks. Then, once I started the online art class site, that’s when I decided I couldn’t just rely on the occasional intern. I really needed somebody who was a permanent member, and that’s when I hired Anna, but by the way, Anna, who you heard me talk about, who works for me full-time, she started off part-time, 10 hours a week, so if you’re trying to build something bigger than just yourself, enlist that kind of help. There are other times when I am the one who has to do the work, but I’m stuck in a different way.

I’m stuck because I don’t have the vision. I can’t see what that path forward is and what the plan is, and that’s when I need help in the form of a mentor or a coach. I know this is an investment, but I almost always have found that this kind of investment saves me so much time and money in terms of not making mistakes, that it pays for itself. For example, most recently with my book writing proposal, I was so stuck with that. I knew the only way through was to get an editor who specializes in helping first-time authors create book proposals, so I found a really great editor to help me and I have time blocked out on my calendar each week that is just for me to meet with her and work on the book proposal.

I’m not working on anything else. I’m not working on my email list, I’m not working on my art, I’m not taking care of my family, I’m just nurturing this one project, and that’s how I know it’s going to get finished. Like I know it now. I have a knowing that I’m going to get that book proposal done. I have a knowing that it’s going to be amazing, and I can’t wait to put it out into the world.

Now, if you’re feeling stuck with your art sales or creating an online class, I’d love to help you. That is my area of expertise. I can show you the path forward. There are a very limited number of spots in the Artist Incubator program. I can’t take many more.

Originally, I thought I could take more, but because of the time I need to spend on my book proposal, I am limiting the amount of time that I can spend with other clients. However, there is a limited space available. If you join, you’ll have access to my Predictable Selling Systems for how to sell your art and how to build an online art class. If you’re committed and you’re ready to say yes to yourself, I’d love to talk to you. There is an application process to make sure you’re a good fit.

To learn more, all you have to do is go to as in biz, B as in boy, I as in ice cream, Z as in zebra. You fill out the application and if you qualify, then I’d love to talk to you. Okay. Moving back to our goal setting process. We are up to step seven.

Absolutely cannot leave this out. This is super uber important, so you want to celebrate your wins along the way. By that, I don’t just mean reaching the end of the goal, but remember, we talked about breaking things down into benchmarks milestones. You want to celebrate those as well. It’s so important that we do that.

I read a book recently by Dr. Valerie Rein. She’s going to be a guest on the podcast soon. I can’t wait to talk to her. The book is excellent. It’s called Patriarchy Stress Disorder, and in the book, she talks about making time to imprint our wins.

We have as humans, such a negativity bias that when you do have something positive, when you have a win, you really do need to take that moment and celebrate it, and if you know me, if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while, you want to celebrate all the wins. All those inspired actions that you took all along the way, celebrate those too. You don’t have to wait to finish a big goal to celebrate. All right. Let’s review the seven steps for goal setting.

Number one, write your goals down, number two, create a plan to get there, number three, track your progress, number four, break your goals into smaller benchmarks, number five, choose a theme or a word for the year, number six, enlist help, and number seven, celebrate your wins along the way. All righty, my friend, I’ve included links to everything I mentioned in the show notes. You can find that over at, and don’t forget, you can grab my Artist Profit Plan eBook, totally free. Go to It outlines those five plans for you. All right, my friend.

Thank you so much for being with me here today. I’ll see you the same time, same place next week. Until then, stay inspired.

Thank you for listening to The Inspiration Place Podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at, on Instagram @schulmanart, and of course, on


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