Creating Focus when Goal Setting Doesn’t Work

Many creative people resist goal setting, because the mere idea of setting a deadline slams the door on their creative place. Others claim ‘it’s all in the mind’ – many highly creative people work to deadlines all the time. However, creativity itself is ‘all in the mind’ and for many people goal setting undoubtedly  makes them less creative.

The danger of not setting goals is that we drift, loose focus and procrastinate. So

How do you create focus if goal setting strangles your muse?

The answer is not to think in deadlines, but in start-lines, by simply committing to starting. This is what I did when I considered the list of unfinished projects I’ve been procrastinating about. Although none of them require a huge amount of creative thought, I still felt resistance  to committing to complete even one of them by a certain date, let alone naming a date when I would have them all finished.

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I was resistant to goal setting here, because I’m working on some other important projects and I wasn’t going to let stuff that had been hanging about unfinished for months – some of it for years – take precedence. I therefore simply committed to  starting.

Although start-lines don’t have as rigid structure as goal setting, there are still rules:

When you Commit to Starting

  1. Commit to a day and time to start.
  2. Define how long this first session will last.
  3. Identify exactly what you are going to do in your first session.

On the day

  1. Show up at your chosen time.
  2. Work on your project as planned.
  3. If you hit an obstacle, work out how to overcome it and follow that plan.
  4. Unless you complete your project in this session, commit to starting on the next phase immediately after the session finishes.


Commit to starting on what remains to be done at the end of each session until the project is complete.

Okay it’s not rocket science – but it’s an effective way to pin yourself down and stop procrastination whatever the reason goal setting is turning you off.

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