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Goals Matter: Pointers for a Productive Year.

Guest blogger Mickey Bond conducted interviews with two artists on the importance of organization, discipline and balance in their professional lives. Here's their best advice on how to flourish.

"It's official: we can accomplish more and go farther if we dedicate ourselves to written goals," writes Angelo Kinicki, textbook author and speaker on organizational behavior. Research shows that goal setting is "a very powerful technique to improve individual productivity…"

January is a great time to assess what did and didn't work for us as artists the previous year. "I separate my New Year goals into three artistic categories: craft, creation and career," explains master pastel painter Richard McKinley who blogs weekly for the Pastel Journal Magazine where his "Pastel Pointers" has appeared since 2007. He likens the goal-setting process to "stepping back from the easel" so as not to get "lost in the minutia."

Naturally, creative people have creative ways of organizing their time. And there are as many ways to organize an artistic life as there are artists. Personally, I see myself as an out-of-the box person. Yet I've learned the hard way that if I don't set up boxes constructed and fortified by categories, goals and deadlines, I won't accomplish much. I seem to need those boxes to work against. That struggle spurs my creativity to make art and set achievable goals to further my career.

Some artists seem made for disciplined routines. "I make something new and different and wonderful every single day, and I'm making a living at it," says Memphis-based artist Cheryl Pesce, owner of her own jewelry design company. "For two hours early each morning, I take out my tools and do something with them. Then I put everything away. I've had to learn to discipline myself." Pesce has a small live/work space. "I have a rule," she confides "I don't bring jewelry to the second floor."

Pesce is one of those people who never looks at or needs a clock at any time of day, and wakes up naturally raring to go at 4:30 a.m. "I have a cart in my studio where I store all my chains and findings. So on any given morning, after about an hour or so on social media, I'll roll the cart up to my work bench with my coffee, some chains, some stones, and create pieces for 2-3 hours before 8 a.m." As to her daily dose of social media, "Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. That's seven days a week. It's a great way to start my morning, and get my mind focused on the day."

Her yearly organizational plan follows retail buying trends. "I make more jewelry in August when a lot of people aren't buying as much," explains Pesce. During the first quarter of the year, Pesce travels to gather materials for her jewelry, while the second quarter finds her more often in the studio making jewelry and acquiring new clients. During the last quarter of the year, Pesce conducts trunk shows and other recurring sales events.

MB: Imagine yourself balancing the many elements of your life including art, work, family, travel, etc. What do you see?

CP: I see a wheel with spokes coming from the center. I'm at the center, and all the spokes divide the wheel in sections that represent my life's responsibilities: my art, my family, my friends, my community, my religion. In a perfect world, each section of the wheel would be equal, and the wheel evenly balanced and running smoothly, but because that's rarely the case, my wheel doesn't turn evenly and I have to work carefully to keep it balanced." Muses Pesce, "there is a theme of wheels in my life and nature is my color wheel. I coordinate my colors, stones, and designs based on the way plants and flowers are naturally painted."

MB: What is your takeaway message regarding goals and the structuring of an artistic life?