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"Art enables us to find ourselves
and lose ourselves at the same time."

- Thomas Merton

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  • 29 Nov 2020 2:28 AM | Lesley Samms (Administrator)

    Following on from our previous blog post talking about the Instagram feed, we were delighted to speak to a good friend of PURE and PURE ART360 artist, Hannah Buchanan about her experience with Instagram and she was kind enough to give us her top tips.

    Hannah’s Top Tips for effective Instagram presence:

    There are thousands of artists on Instagram who are all trying to do the same thing as you, so you need to make sure you are being creative and bold when it comes to standing out. 

    Firstly, make sure all your content is high-quality. Professionalism is the priority here. An iPhone camera will be just fine but make sure you are posting sharp photos and avoid blurry, wonky or discoloured images. I will always touch up my photographs by making sure the horizon is straight and the photograph matches the real colours of my paintings and I never use filters. 

    Secondly, post regularly. Every other day is a good rule of thumb and it doesn’t just have to be finished work. Show works in progress, your studio space, your colour palettes and anything that contributes to your practice!

    Wise words there from Hannah - Professionalism, creativity and consistency really are the key!

    In this blog post we really want to talk to you about Instagram Stories and Hannah’s tips for creativity, professionalism and consistency really work here too.

    On stories, Hannah says: 

    I once read somewhere that the great thing about using stories is that your followers can ignore them if they want to. 

    If you are worried about posting too often, think about using your stories instead. Additionally, stories can be grouped into ‘highlights’ which can be shown in little bubbles at the top of your profile.

    I have grouped some of my stories into ‘highlights’ with categories such as ‘pop-up shows’ or 'solo exhibitions’. 

    I even have a highlight about my studio sunflower! This is a great way of showing your followers events they may have missed and it can show a little more of your personality than a single post.

    We also spoke to PURE ART360 artist Richard Heeps about Stories and he said:

    Just go for it, they only last 24 hours and can be deleted if you don’t like them. They are a great opportunity to share other people you like and build your community.”

    They are both saying what we are all thinking. 

    So here are our top tips for Instagram stories: 

    1. As we highlighted in our previous blog post about the Instagram feed, the LOOK of Instagram is vitally important. Make sure to utilise ‘Highlights’ to save your stories. Make sure these are ordered, have structure and look good. This includes making the front image look professional and on brand, making sure the title tells you what is included, and making sure you include your most aesthetic Story posts in them.

    2. Stories on Instagram act as an easily accessible window to your account. Often people will discover you through stories, so posting on them regularly throughout the day can be a quick, easy and low stress way to stay engaged with your audience. Document your day, your studio, your trip to the art shop (or even shopping online during these times!). Stories take the stress out

    3.  As Hannah rightly points out, utilise stories to show your personality. Just as she has a story keeping her followers updated about her Sunflower, use these to show off your family life, your pets, your garden, whatever else you are passionate about. They flesh out the artist behind the perfectly curated Instagram feed. Your audience will love learning more about you and your life.

    4. Show off your exhibitions and where your work has been exhibited. Make sure to tag the galleries, other artists, people that visit and any press. This will lead them to you and ensure they revisit your work! Fingers crossed they will also share your artwork again to their audiences. It’s all about cross promotion.

    5.  Stories are a fantastic way to utilise those works in progress, those messy studio shots, or just those pictures you don’t want on the ‘portfolio’ of your Instagram page.

    6. Have fun with your Stories! Utilise the widgets, the pen tool and the different text options to make them more ‘you’. Play around with colours and make them as aesthetic and interesting as you can. Your followers will love them!

    We hope these tips are helpful, and that you enjoyed this blog post.

    Next time we will be discussing HASHTAGS # !

  • 20 Nov 2020 4:13 PM | Lesley Samms (Administrator)

    For this blog post we want to talk to you about how to make sure your Instagram feed looks professional.

    Growing your Instagram following Is a marathon, not a sprint.

    The key features are consistency, quality and keeping genuine.

    The first step is to polish your Instagram. Always think of your Instagram page as the front cover of a book, or the best of your portfolio. You want it to be interesting, clean and on brand.

    1. Make sure you have a good profile picture for Instagram.

    • This should either be an image of yourself
    • An iconic piece of your artwork in your style
    • Your artist logo, should you have one

    Don’t underestimate the need for quality in your profile image.

    Avoid anything too small, intricate or blurry.

    Making sure you have the right profile picture to stand out from the crowd is also really important! People can then easily recognise you from a comment or a story!

    2. Make sure your bio is informative, interesting and up to date.

    • Use relevant emojis to add colour and keep it interesting.
    • You can use @tags in your bio but use these sparingly. ½ at a time. These can be used to tag a gallery you might be exhibiting in or something similar.
    • You can also use #hashtags, but the same rules apply. Use these sparingly to keep your bio neat.

    “Sorting out my bio was a huge help to my growth. Making sure that is was clear, concise and told people immediately what the page was about” Mollie E Barnes - She Curates (10k followers)

    3. We recommend using the word ‘art’ or ‘artist’ in your Instagram tag. This will increase people finding you through the Instagram search function.

    For Example, ‘@janesmith’ could gain more traction as ‘@janesmith.art’ or ‘@janesmithart’.

    4. Switch your Instagram to a ‘Creator’ or “Business’ account to ensure you are able to keep an eye on your analytics.

    5. Tidy up your highlights.

    Highlights can be quite addictive to keep adding to. We recommend making sure these are very tidy through:

    Consistency is paramount:

    • Have consistent titles e.g. ‘Studio’, ‘Works in Progress’, ‘Exhibitions’ etc…
    • Cover images

    Keep the highlight cover images consistent with your profile picture theme. Make it look on brand. You can create custom images through Canva or use images of your artwork that represent each of them effectively.

    Organise your highlights. It can be a long process, but make sure to sort out what is saved into each highlight.

    After these pieces of admin are sorted and kept up to date, we can look at the Instagram feed.

    Go through your Instagram feed, and make sure it looks consistent and on brand.

    You can go through the posts and use the ‘Archive’ function to save posts but remove them from your feed. You will be the only one to see these.

    This can make sure your feed looks beautiful, curated and on your artist brand.

  • 15 Nov 2020 6:45 PM | Lesley Samms (Administrator)

    Research shows that reading improves brain connectivity, empowers us to empathise with other people, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and heart rate and fights symptoms of depression.

    Reading is the perfect antidote for right now!

    Here are some reading suggestions for you



    Our PURE Blog is full of posts about motivation, collaboration and celebration. It also includes Interviews with some very interesting people and the ART360 magazine, full of inspirational art to view and buy.



    "Yes, I was jealous of other artists’ work, their lives, their success, their studios. I felt like I’d never have any of that – and I was right – because I wasn’t making art! I was stuck, and so busy comparing myself to everyone else that I didn’t even allow myself to be creative. It was awful. I started the blog to document the work I loved, but more importantly, I wanted to find a way to flip the jealousy into something positive – admiration and inspiration to be specific. It worked!"



    A blog from art supplier CASS ART, including techniques, opportunities, materials, interviews and features. Excellent for artist motivation!



    We have loved viewing the Q&As, the News, brand new releases and more on this eclectic arts blog over at Rise Art. 



    What's the Story

    Rewire – change your Brain by Richard O’Connor PhD

    Small Habits Revolution

    Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

    Mindset by Dr Carol S. Dwek

    Breakfast at Sotheby's 

    A poor collectors guide to buying great art by Erling Kagge

    Let us know which is your favourite blog to peruse or book to read!

    We'd love to hear your suggestions.

  • 6 Nov 2020 11:54 PM | Lesley Samms (Administrator)

    If you’re anything like us, you are needing some motivation as we ease into another month of lockdown.

    We know creativity has huge benefits for our well being, and has the power to increase our happiness, so every week for the next 4 weeks at least we will be sharing resources with you to keep you motivated and feeling good.

    This week we are focusing on things to Watch and Listen. Lighthearted and inspiring content, just for you.

    Our Favourite Video Channels

    PURE Talks Season 2

    PURE Art 360 Throwbacks


    Tedx Talks

    Daily Calm

    Our Planet

    Our Favourite Podcasts

    The Curator’s Salon Podcast

    Artfully Podcast

    PURE Talks Podcast

    Art Curious Podcast

    Talk Art

    TED Talks Daily
  • 30 Oct 2020 4:50 PM | Lesley Samms (Administrator)

    Collaboration is king for artists, and at Pure we will show you how and why.

    There is a voice in the art world that will have you believe that artists are intended to fight in constant competition with each other – for sales, galleries, for everything. This is simply not true.

    Today, with the continual rise of social media, online platforms and a change in the traditional gallery and selling structure it is clear that artists need to be working together and collaboratively to achieve their goals. Trust us, you will achieve your goals a lot faster with collaborative working, over going it alone.

    Arts collaborations:

    • Fuel creative exploration
    • Links audiences
    • Spreads the word
    • Promotes each artist
    • Can lead to further art projects 


    Take Instagram for example. You could be posting 5 beautiful artworks a week to your followers, which is great. But how do you get more people to follow you on Instagram? Sure, you can do paid promotions, hope hashtags work out for you… but a quicker way is through collaboration with your fellow artists and art world colleagues.

    So, if you were to share an artist’s work to your story, tag them and they share yours, you are each opening up your artwork and portfolio to a brand-new audience that the other has cultivated! It’s simple really. 

    And have you noticed the rise in “takeovers”; Artists and galleries handing over their Instagram feed for a specific period. This is a great collaboration technique that benefits all involved and generates interesting new content for established followers at the same time.

    Who could you collaborate with and how?

    How does this translate to ‘real life’? 

    This premise on Instagram can be moved into real life exhibitions. For example, are you sitting on a new body of work, but galleries aren’t being receptive at the moment? Why not reach out to fellow artists and put together your own exhibition? A group artist show can have far reaching and unexpected benefits: at the very least, it will double the audience, half the costs and the stress plus much more!

     A great recent example has been PURE ART360 Artist Hannah Buchanan teaming up with artist Scarlett Woodman to produce their joint show at Red Door Gallery in Rye. https://www.artrabbit.com/events/nature-refocused

    ‘In early October Scarlett and I were showing in Rye with our exhibition ’Nature Refocused’. The exhibition explored our reconnection with our surroundings during lockdown, as we both felt our practices had changed since the pandemic pushed us to stay at home. This was such an exciting project and only the beginning of what I expect to be a much longer lasting collaboration and friendship. Working with someone with a similar passion for the surrounding landscape but with a different curatorial perspective was so refreshing, and I think our work really complimented each other’s in the gallery. Personally, I think working together has been a great confidence booster and if you are thinking of finding your own 'partner in crime' I would definitely recommend it!’

    Artist duos and groups have shaped art history since it’s inception. Think Marina Absramovic and Ulay collaborating in the 70s and 80s; the Dada power couple Jean Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp; think of Judy Chicago and her 2020 collaboration with Dior!

    When artist’s work together, they not only promote each other’s work organically, the possibilities become endless… 

    * Artwork by Hannah Buchanan

  • 9 Jun 2020 11:34 PM | Lesley Samms (Administrator)

    What if every word we uttered came true instantly? What if you were required to follow through on everything you said? How would your language change? Would you even be able to talk at all?

    Speaking, writing and reading are integral to our everyday life.

    Becoming aware of the words and phrases we unconsciously choose and combine can help us better understand ourselves and why we behave the way we do. And ultimately it can enable change through choice.

    Language plays a big role in how we perceive the world, our beliefs and consequently the choices and decisions we make. Language therefore has immense power, and its impact depends entirely on how we use it, both in our self-talk and how we speak to others.

    “It is the fuel we use to empower our desires, and to direct and align our energy” – Cath Thompson (2005)

    Because the words we use are often automatic and unconscious, we have learned to treat them lightly. In our daily conversation, we speak the majority of our words from habit, convenience and social obligation rather than from clear intent.

    To master language is to create the opportunity for both alignment and growth.

    • The power of ‘I’

    I is a super-charged word because it is empowering, however when combined with words such as can’t or want, it can distance us from our desired outcome.

    Substituting I want with I have, I need or I feel, creates opportunity and supplementing I can’t with the word yet creates the promise of something exciting to come in the future.

    Whenever you say the words “I am,” the words that follow are a declaration and are experienced by your subconscious self as a direct order. Statements like “I am anxious” “I am overwhelmed” or “I am fat” only tend to reinforce those states. Instead, directly express how you feel about your current reality (sad, scared, hopeless), and then declare what you choose be and do instead.

    Remember, speaking is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Where your words lead, your mind and body follow, so speak and think only that which you choose to have come into your reality – now and always

    • Vagueness

    When you utter phrases such as I will try, this lacks conviction and often in reality means I won’t try, or I don’t want to try.

    When you find yourself saying such phrases, stop and consider with honesty what you really mean. How can you rephrase your words to be more clear and direct. If you are afraid of offending someone or appearing hard or challenging, you may be unconsciously diffusing your words to be more acceptable to others. Take some time to consider whether your need to be accepted is overriding your ability to own your ideas and assert yourself.

    Make these 7 switches and embrace a new way of thinking
    • I can’t for I think I can
    This switch creates possibility and turns on the creative energy; it reverses the helpless/hopeless response 

    • They make me for I allow
    I allow takes personal responsibility and eliminates the blaming others and one’s self (guilt).
    • I should for I could
    This invites the opportunity for new creative solutions instead of dependency on others prescriptions.
    • Either for both
    This switch curtails divisiveness.
    • What works for me, my family, and my tribe, for here and now, for; what works for me AND you, for my tribe AND your tribe, for now AND later.
    This promotes the Golden Rule: energy is directed to cooperate for creative solutions; no one is being blamed
    • Anger, fear, anxiety for energy
    This Inspires mental puzzle solving instead of the physical fight or flight instinct
    • Emergency for urgency
    This switch prevents instinctive and possibly harmful actions and confrontations

  • 29 May 2020 12:39 AM | Lesley Samms (Administrator)

    Apart from being the slogan adopted by IKEA, 'The Wonderful Everyday' suggests the ideal of living our best and most wonderful lives everyday. 

    Living our best life has to be one of the most over used phrases in what we knew as normal before Covid-19, but what does it actually mean and how does its intention makes us feel?

    For some it will mean celebrating the small things and the simple pleasures of everyday life, to appreciate the ordinary, and that was Ikea’s original intention; a celebration of how the little things are the big things.

    For some however the phrase “living your best life” has turned life into a competition of being the best or better, and nurtured a belief in many that resources and time are finite and will run out – they will only be available to those who are perfect or better, those who work really hard and strive continually.

    It places perfection as the pinnacle of human endeavour of purpose and meaning…

    And by so doing it loses sight or the everyday of the ordinary of what true purpose actually is and is not.

    I think Cathy Mckinnon’s analogy of the Apple summed this up perfectly.


    As lockdown begins to ease, now is a perfect time to reflect on our true purpose, to consider what our normal will look like, taking forward with us the truth that there is enough for everyone, we are not in competition with anyone and that we will have as much time as we need to be, do and have whatever we desire.

    If you would like to review and reflect in a supported environment why not join our back to basics online course here - https://www.pureartsgroup.co.uk/Sys/Store/Products/59137

    So relax, practice kindness and generosity. Leave space to watch the magic happen. We have choices, we can align with our true selves and let things fall in to place naturally or we can push hard and exhaust ourselves, and in so doing miss the beauty of everyday.

    We miss the awe in the ordinary

    Focus on the now – the present moment – leave the past in the past and accept the future is working itself out – it doesn't need your attention right now.

    Give your attention to the right now – this present moment – the one you are living today.

    Value being present in your own one real life
    • Notice what you notice
    • What can you hear
    • What can you see
    • What can you feel

    Be aware of the self talk – of all that which has gone before that wants to make its presence still felt – acknowledge it – thank it kindly – and then move on, don’t carry it with you into the future if it doesn't serve you well.

    As Nadine Searle said, be more dog! Accept your own truth. Keep things simple and honour your true self – what do you want today? What will make you wag your tail with delight?

    Cathy Mckinnon spoke about Byron Katie and you can learn more about her and her teachings here - https://thework.com/

    The school of work questions are:

    1.     Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to question 3.)
    2.     Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
    3.     How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
    4.     Who or what would you be without the thought?

    Other useful questions to ask yourself in order to stay balanced, calm and present:

    What business are you in?
      1.     Your business
      2.     Others business
      3.     Good business

            What meaning are you overlaying onto this situation?

            To contact Cathy visit – https://www.coachwithcathy.com/book-a-session-new

            Cathy trained at the Martha Beck Institute - https://marthabeck.com/

            Oh Magazine - http://ohcomely.co.uk/

            Connecting to nature is a very good way of calming a busy mind and learning the power of being in the present moment.

            Read this article for tips and hints on connecting with nature –


            One artwork that celebrates the ordinary is Rachel Whiteread’s concrete house

            - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVueGlKQTE8

            Lesley Samms MSc ANLP

            If you would like to contact Lesley – email lesleysamms@gmail.com

          • 13 May 2020 3:49 PM | Lesley Samms (Administrator)

            • Definition of potential: latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success

            • On average people consider they have achieved about 40% of their full potential

              So what are the game changers that enable people to align with and grow into their potential and ultimately achieve their goals?

            • Increased awareness
            • Perspective and attitude
            • Taking responsibility for ourselves
            • Taking responsibility for our choices and decisions
            • 1. Become more aware of your own behaviour and the behaviour of others


            •  Become more emotionally intelligent and resilient
            • Emotional resilience enables us to manage our emotions more effectively, to ensure we are not overly influenced by the emotions and behaviours of others.

              So, how can you build emotional intelligence and resilience?

            • Pick the company you keep wisely – both in real time and online

              Apparently mixing with or sitting near a high performer can help you achieve better results. This sounds like a good thing, however it has also been proven that stress and anxiety can also be contagious, as we have witnessed first hand over the passed 7/8 weeks!

              The reason for both these outcomes is the human ability to mirror emotions and behaviour and our basic instinctive desire to be part of a tribe.

              According to Moran Cerf, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University, who has been studying decision-making for over a decade, when two people are in each other's company, their brain waves will begin to look nearly identical

              One study of moviegoers, for instance, found the most engaging trailers all produced similar patterns in people's brains.

              Again this can be seen very clearly during the pandemic, as we respond to news broadcasts with reactive threads of dialogue and shared posts on social media.

              This means the people we hang out with, not just in person but also on social media, actually have an impact on our engagement with reality way beyond what can be explained, and one of the key effects is we become alike.

              2. Become more aware of other peoples perspectives


            •  By being open minded and open to changing your mind – seeing it from another’s view point 
            • Recent research (Antinori, 2017) found that people who are open to new experiences have an ability to absorb more information than others and process it in different ways.

              This flexibility helps boost their creativity and innovation and thus ability to solve complex problems and be more successful.

              So, how can you become more open-minded?

            • Read books
            • Ask questions – never assume.  
            • Be aware of your internal and external programming and belief systems
                 Remember even salt looks like sugar
            • Why do we think pink is for girls and blue is for boys?

              This is a very modern stereotype – prior to the 1940’s Pink was more often a boys colour.

              Did you know the Nazi’s used pink in concentration camps to identify gay men and transgender women.

            • Listen and have empathy
            • Listening is different to conversation. In conversation we listen for only a very short time and then start thinking about our own experiences and how to respond (we listen for approximately 20 seconds).

              Empathy is different to sympathy. Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Sympathy is being in harmony or agreement. Sharing the feelings of another.

              3. Take responsibility for yourself


            • By recognising your values and pursuing your passions
            • “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life!” Pablo Picasso

               “Making and consuming art lifts our spirits and keeps us sane. Art, like science and religion, helps us make meaning from our lives, and to make meaning is to make us feel better.” Grayson Perry

              A recent report by the all-party parliamentary group on arts, health and well being which included hundreds of interviews and dozens of case studies demonstrated how powerfully the arts can promote health and wellbeing.

              Co-chaired by former arts ministers Alan Howarth and Ed Vaizey, the all-party inquiry contends that their findings evidence the arts can keep people well, aid recovery from illness, help people live longer, better lives and save money in health and social services

            • Making healthy lifestyle choices – fresh air, exercise, healthy eating 
            • Fresh air boosts brain function and exercise reminds us that practice, repetition and patience are critical to learning.

              Nutritional imbalance is now being linked by scientists to all manner of conditions such as hearing loss, previously linked to age.

            • Give your self a break! Turn off phones & social media and consider meditating.
            • New research (Kumaria et al, 2017) found that regular meditation can make our sight more responsive, due to the brain attention system benefits it is believed to trigger. In the study, Buddhist meditators were compared to non-meditators in various tasks. The meditators eye movements were consistently more accurate and responsive, demonstrating how the practice could help to boost focus.

            • Meditation Apps – Mindfulness; buddhify; Calm; Stop, breath and think..
            • Deepak Chopra 21 day abundance meditation

              4. Take responsibility for your own choices, decisions and actions


            • Give yourself time to think and permission to be content & happy
            • Why is time important?

              Stress over lack of time causes lower well-being and contributes to anxiety and insomnia. Psychologist Dr.Elizabeth Dunn argues it is time, not material goods, that raise happiness levels.

              So, how can you give yourself more time and be happier and more content?

            • Prioritise the important things: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_N_uvq41Pg
            • Planning, preparation and time management
            • Time management: https://youtu.be/n3kNlFMXslo (12 mins)
            • Prioritising and saying No is an essential learned skill in a world where the demands on our time are infinite.  Write do it or ditch it lists. Be strict with yourself when setting screen use times and social media contact times. Especially now when it’s easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole!

            • Research to avoid assumption and fact check
            • Thoughts are not facts!

            • Mind maps are a useful tool to understand what is important
            • Goal setting – a well formed outcome that you can visualise through your own eyes is a powerful tool

            Set goals or outcomes which stretch you.

            Have the courage to be brave. In the words of Dr. Brene Brown – Do it scared

            Become the hero of your own story, because it is often in the failing that we learn the most and reap the greatest rewards.

            Ask yourself the question – “What can I do today to be brave?”

            Lesley Samms MSc ANLP

            Email: Lesleysamms@gmail.com

            Lesley delivers group and on line training and 1 2 1 professional development, mentoring and coaching 

          • 7 May 2020 11:07 PM | Lesley Samms (Administrator)

            Do you ever feel like you’re sleepwalking through life with no real idea of what you want or where you are going?

            Perhaps you know exactly what you want to achieve, but have no idea how to get there or you are simply overwhelmed by the prospect.

            That’s where goal setting comes in.

            Goals are the first step towards planning for the future, and play a fundamental role in the development of skills in various facets of life, from work to relationships and everything in between.

            They are the targets at which we aim our proverbial arrow.

            In the words of Pablo Picasso:

            Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.

            And in the words of Benjamin Franklin:

            By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

            So, what is Goal Setting?

            Goal setting is a powerful motivator, the value of which has been recognised in a wealth of clinical and real-world settings for over 35 years.

            ‘Goals,’ as defined by Latham & Locke (2002, p.705) are “the object or aim of an action”

            According to Locke (2019) “Every person’s life depends on the process of choosing goals to pursue; if you remain passive you are not going to thrive as a human being.

            Locke & Latham goal setting theory is based on the premise that conscious goals affect action and that conscious human behaviour is purposeful and regulated by individual goals.

            Therefore, we must decide what is beneficial to our own wellbeing and then set goals to achieve it.

            So, why do some people perform better on tasks than others? 

            The key is motivation. The more we achieve the more we become motivated to achieve more and bigger.

            Goals give us control over the future outcome of our lives…

            The key principles of goal setting are;

            1. Commitment – the more committed or invested you are the more likely you are to succeed.

            2. Clarity – Goals need to be clear and specific

            3. Challenge  - they must be challenging but attainable

            4. Complexity – the timescale must be relevant to the complexity of the goal

            5. Feedback – reporting and learning

            Goal setting is especially important for artists as it is closely associated with achieving flow state. Setting clear goals that are both challenging yet within your skill level is a powerful contributor to finding yourself in ‘the zone’.

            Have you heard of SMART goals?

            SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebased. SMART goals help focus our efforts and increase the chances of achieving our goals. And don’t forget the importance of rewarding yourself when you achieve your goals.

            Why does Goal Setting Work

            When done correctly, goal setting is effective and often critical to success.

            Goals give us direction by focusing attention on goal-relevant behaviour and away from irrelevant tasks (Zimmerman, Bandura, & Martinez-Pons, 1992).

            Miner (2005) suggested that goal setting works through three basic propositions:

            1. Goals energize performance through the motivation to expend the required effort in line with the difficulty of the task.
            2. Goals motivate people to persist in activities over time.
            3. Goals direct people’s attention to relevant behaviours, and away from behaviours which are irrelevant, or detrimental to the achievement of the task.
            What are the Disadvantages of goal setting?

            If employed incorrectly, goal setting has the potential to cause rather than solve problems.

            Goals can present with threat of negative consequences, leading to stress and anxiety as an outcome if not attained.

            Also if there is a conflict between two or more goals, performance with respect to each goal may be undermined (Locke, Smith, Erez, Chah, & Shaffer, 1994).

          • 29 Apr 2020 10:08 PM | Lesley Samms (Administrator)

            Studies have shown that people perform much better when they write down what they need to do.

            So, what makes the to-do list such an effective productivity tool?

            Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik was perhaps the first to note the brain’s obsession with pressing tasks. The so-called “Zeigarnik effect”

            He noticed we remember things we need to do, better than things we’ve done. This theory stemmed from observing that waiters could only recall diners’ orders before they had been served. After the dishes had been delivered, their memories simply erased who’d had the steak and who’d had the soup. The deed was done and the brain was ready to let go.

            More recently, a study by professors Baumeister and Masicampo from Wake Forest University showed that, while tasks we haven’t done distract us, just making a plan to get them done can free us from this anxiety.


            The pair observed that people underperform on a task when they are unable to finish a warm-up activity that would usually precede it. However, when participants were allowed to make and note down concrete plans to finish the warm-up activity, performance on the next task substantially improved.

            The mental load is reduced and we can function at a much higher level.

            Some people resist this kind of structure, however. They think it will affect their creativity or prevent them from being flexible. Time management expert David Allen – whose book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity - Believes these free-spirited creative types are quite simply wrong.

            He believes anyone with a full schedule and no structure will struggle to cope. A system is needed – and scribbled notes on hands won’t cut it. It’s not enough to scrawl “bank” or “Mum” on a Post-it note, says Allen – you need more detail. Is it an email, a visit or a phone call, and for what purpose? If your to-do list isn’t clear enough and to the point, your tasks probably won’t get done – and they certainly won’t be prioritised.

            A major downfall of the list can be chunking up – for example “Write my novel” is a pretty foreboding task; “outline first chapter of my novel” is far easier to cope with mentally!

            Remember don’t try and eat the elephant in one go! It will be easier to digest if you break it down into bite size pieces

            Dopamine is the key here.  Dopamine is a chemical messenger – Your body makes it, and your nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells.

            Motivation is the essential and irreplaceable element of success.

            When we’re not motivated, we fail.

            When we experience even small amounts of success, our brains release dopamine, which is connected to feelings of pleasure, learning and motivation. When we feel the effects of dopamine, we’re eager to repeat the actions that resulted in that success in the first place.Neuroscientists refer to this as “self-directed learning.

            When we are positively motivated to do something, we learn to take that same action to receive the same feeling. This is why achieving small goals is such an effective way to stay motivated during long-term projects and processes.

            Or even during lockdown!

            Checking items off of a checklist releases small amounts of dopamine that then fuel us to keep checking off more items, i.e. get more done!

            Thus the saying “fail to plan and you plan to fail”

            A great hack you can introduce to make your lists even more effective is gamification.

            Gamification is the notion of tricking your brain by making it think you are playing and having fun.

            An essential ingredient of gamification is rewards.

            You must remember to reward yourself when you tick things of your checklist – your brain responds quickly to these rewards – but you must have integrity – the negative low is very low if you try to cheat yourself!

            Another hack to trick your brain is to send your lists forward to your future self. You can do this via futureme.org. Select a date in the future to receive it back. Seeing the impact of your past to do lists in the future can give you a real sense of satisfaction and achievement on how far you have progressed, or a reality check about the importance of the kind of tasks you choose to prioritise and get anxious and overwhelmed by...

            Lesley Samms MSc ANLP

            You can download Suzan Aral's design project checklist here:


            Here is Suzan's Campaign design order form:

            ARALetc_OrderForm_PROMOCAMPAIGN (1).pdf

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