I recently listened to a very interesting and influential podcast by Chris Oatley who is currently a character designer and visual development artist for Disney. He also runs the podcasts and website "paperwings" with fellow artist and web comics creator, Lora Innes.
The podcast was entitled "why NOT to pursue artistic growth" which at first sounds funny because as an artist it is our main goal, to improve and become increasingly better as a professional, however I have come to realize that for too long I have been setting myself the task of becoming "better" as an artist my whole life! When in fact, this is immeasurable, unfathomable and an intangible goal to set for success. It is a life long endeavor in which you never truly become perfect as a creative person, you are always growing and evolving as an artist.
And so, I've begun the task of setting myself small projects in which I have a measurable means of control, something that is tangible, possible and realistic, but most importantly, something I can complete! Something I can "win" as Chris put it. Gaining a "win" is so invaluable to building confidence and the more "wins" you can achieve the more you are going to snowball and move forward as an individual.
The kinds of tasks I'm talking about aren't such like, "draw in my sketchbook every day" or "paint more" because again these goals are unbounded and interminable in that they don't have a specific target, or a specific end. These types of intentions are just setting you up for a loss.
Really then the kind of tasks you want to be setting are things like "fill my sketchbook by this date" or "publish my webcomic by this date" or "complete my personal short animation by this date" these goals have a definite and concrete target that are setting you up for the "win" and naturally the more wins you can accomplish the closer you will be progressing towards that big dream or that broader horizon.
It is important to dream big, but in order for our dream to not become stagnant or bleak, we must forever take one step forward at a time, successfully completing the small things in order to reach that "final" goal, or apotheosis.
(P.S. sorry for such a long winded post I promise more visuals the next time around!)