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The Art of Being a Goal-Getter (Part 2)…



I'm so glad you guys enjoyed Part 1 of "The Art of Being a Goal-Getter" last week. I introduced this mini series with my own career history, and in Part 2, I want to share five tips on how to be a goal-getter in your own life…

Oh Joy | The Art of Being a Goal-Getter

01. You have to (really) want it. Sometimes I say, "I want to open a restaurant," or "I want to run a marathon," but I really have no desire to work the hectic hours that a restaurant requires, and my knees are way too banged up to run more than a few miles at a time. Some of my ideas are fleeting—not dreams I've had for a really long time. But when I think about designing products, that's something I really want, and something that's been a goal of mine for a long time. What are the things that you constantly think about wanting to do? Tell me what you want (what you really, really want). Whatever it is, that's what you're most likely to achieve because you want it. A lot.

Oh Joy | The Art of Being a Goal-Getter

02. You cannot wait around for it. So often people think that as soon as they set up shop (their website, a retail location, an ad in a magazine, etc.), the world will come knocking. But no one will know about what you do or what you have to offer unless you tell them and show them. I learned that lesson early on, when I realized that flyers I put in my neighbors' mailboxes for my calligraphy business did nothing. But as soon as I did some work for someone who was willing to give me a chance, more people saw my potential and hired me for little calligraphy jobs. Ever since then, I have been proactive in going after the things I really want.

Oh Joy | The Art of Being a Goal-Getter

03. Do your research. Who or what will be the best fit to help you accomplish your goals? When I pitched to companies to show them that I'd be a great partner for licensing my designs, I made sure they were ones whose aesthetic complemented my own, and that weren't already working with a designer whose style was similar to mine. As much as you may want to work with certain people, companies, or brands, it has to be a realistic fit, and it has to be with someone who seems most interested in what you have to offer.

Oh Joy | The Art of Being a Goal-Getter

04. Put together a presentation that shines. Show them what you're made of. When I applied for my first two jobs, I sent a physical package in the mail not only to show companies my work, but also to stand out from all the other resumes that were simply going to be emailed or faxed over. When I pitch ideas to companies for licensing, I mock up the product ideas I have. Whatever it is that you want to show, make sure you wow them with a sampling of your ideas so they can really see what you can do.

Oh Joy | The Art of Being a Goal-Getter

05. "No" is not the end of the world (even though it feels like it). When I didn't get my dream job as a home designer for Anthropologie, it forced me to start freelancing because I needed to work and make money. Though I didn't know it at the time, starting my business led me down the path to where I am today. And along the way, there were plenty of projects and jobs I wanted that didn't work out. But they all opened up different, bigger, or better opportunities later on. Often, we learn from things that don't work out and use them to our benefit to strengthen our weaknesses.

Finally, I want to conclude this post by saying that it's okay if your goals sound really out there and are kind of crazy. Don't let people tell you that you can't achieve them, because surrounding yourself with people who believe in you will make those accomplishments even more likely to happen. Every year, I set some ridiculous goal for myself—whether it's a certain amount of income I want to make or a project I want to see happen. And you know what? Every year I manage to make it happen. Because if you put it out there, you'll work hard and figure out ways to get closer and closer to reaching it.

So, tell me friends…what's ONE thing you really want to accomplish by next year?

{Illustrations by Jennifer Vallez. Top photo by Bonnie Tsang.}


  1. I would love to have my blog be super successful, maybe with sponsorship options sometime in the future. I would love to have a dedicated fan base of like minded people. These posts have been so helpful, Joy! Thank you so much for doing what you do!
    Keep inspiring us.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with this post. Following your dreams and being realistic about them is one of the best lessons I’ve learned along my path of being freelance this past year. I’ve pushed boundaries, lost hours of sleep and really dedicated my time to learning and being better at my art. I only have up to go from here! Thanks for this post Joy!

  3. Hi Joy, Thanks for sharing this. I’m facing a big transition in my life, where I can decide whether to continue on with the (yucky) career path I’ve had for a few years, or take this opportunity to make my freelance design dreams happen. Your part 1 and part 2 had really concrete ideas and examples for how to succeed and how to carry on. I very much appreciate you sharing your experiences and hope that a year from now, I can cite you as one of my distant mentors for how I got to be where I’ll be! -Jenn

  4. It’s so great to see the progress of where you started out to where you are now, Joy! My favorite quote sums it up: If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. – Lewis Carroll

  5. i love this series. i especially love the part about not letting other people tell you you can’t do it. i’ve head that so many times it’s really gotten me down. i’d love to open a baby/kid boutique that doesn’t have ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ sides. gender neutral.

  6. Fabulous posts-so inspiring. Im a freelance toy designer and started a shop 4 years ago. Since I feel the most joy working on my shop (printable paper crafts) I would like to eventually turn all of my freelance work into making paper models for the toy industry. Currently that type of business is about 10% of my total work-the rest being concept sketching. Would like to turn it around to 90% and own that genre in the toy industry. I love working with paper. Just head over heals about it. This would make very happy 🙂 thank you

  7. I’ve been around the stationery business for almost 5 years now. My last job, I learned so much about design by hands on experience, I finally started to feel like starting my own business might be a possibility (more than doing favors for friends, of course). Your post, particularly the bits about hearing “no” and having to come up with a plan B, are really inspiring. Thank you for the encouragement to try, come what may. It’s very much appreciated 🙂

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve been worrying over the last couple of weeks about how to advance my blog and my business and so your post gave me just the incentive to just get up and do!
    This is my first time commenting but I’ve been reading for a while. Your blog is a joy (heehee) to read and the hard work and passion you ave for your job just oozes through. Thank you for producing such wonderful content and showing us all how its done!

  9. I want to turn my blog into a proper business venture! I want to develop a product I’ve had in my head for a while.
    Jules of Canines & Couture

  10. Thanks for this much needed inspiration. When I tried to return to my job after my maternity leave, they told me they couldn’t work with my new availability. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I have way too strong of a work ethic to sit around. I had been blogging for about a year as a hobby and wanted to get more serious about it. Sometimes in life, a door shuts and just when you think you’re stuck, a window opens. I decided to start from scratch and was born. All I really want out of life is to be able to connect with others by sharing with them through writing. Now I can and I am…..your blog is one of a small handful that inspire me to keep writing.

  11. I love the last piece of advice. I had a rough time at first after getting rejected by a colleges I wanted to attend, but I quickly realized it WAS not and IS not the end of the road, but the right road fate wants me on…

  12. By the end of this year, I really want to have a gallery show of some of my most recent work and get a gold medal in the Society of Illustrator’s Competition. I’ve wanted these things for the last 5 + years, but part of me has always been afraid of making such huge time investments and financial investments and then failing. This is the year that I take the plunge.

  13. Thank you for sharing your story and for your great advice!
    I am definitely going to start doing further research into licensing illustrations; a goal for the future, because I am with you – the production part DOES stink! 🙂

  14. Thanks for the inspiration, Joy!
    What I really want is for my twin sister and my event and wedding styling agency FOUND, to become a household name here in The Netherlands! We’re on our way…

  15. I would love to start my own buisness as a personal archivist/webdesigner. I’m graduating, and getting my masters in library and information science this August, and I would love to use the skills I have developed to help people organize and share their family’s historical artifacts.

  16. I’m taking my first graphic design class at OTIS this summer! I was completely lost after the first class (last Saturday) because I’ve never worked with the Adobe suite. So my goal this summer is to get the most out of the class and make sure I learn how to navigate Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. 🙂

  17. Good post! So inspiring. I’m a new personal stylist. My goal is to continue being a successful personal stylist and gain 20 clients with active sales. I currently have 9 so I am not to far. 🙂

  18. I needed to hear this. So inspiring–thank you! Also: in “Lean In,” Sheryl Sandberg has a sort of recurring line about how you should do what you’d do if you weren’t afraid.

  19. This is a fantastic post, Joy. Part 1 one was great, too. Figuring out what I really, really want is the hardest part, I think. What I want is always changing. I think before I ask that question, I have to ask what will satisfy, and then I know what I really, really want.

  20. I’ve put my heart and soul into photography, I want to see it continue to flourish and be the embodiment of my life. So through the rough patches and bad economies, the flood of photographers, I will just keep going, I keep going because this is my life’s work… my goal is to never stop creating.

  21. My goal by the end of the year is to redesign my logo, design my website and start freelancing. It seems like a very large task, but I really want it enough to make it happen.
    Thanks, Joy, love this series!

  22. By next year, I want to move to a home with all of the positives of the one I have now, plus, all of the negatives turned to positives. My lease ends in October so this is totally doable. A much larger goal is that I really want to own it. That requires a miracle but it’s a goal.

  23. Oh and PS: as a form of gratitude for these two posts of yours, I highly recommend reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall – actually, I listened to the audio book and it was fantastic beyond all expectations. And I’m not a runner!

  24. Joy, this post couldn’t come at a better time. I really appreciate this one because it’s the story of my life right now. I’m a 30 something mom that has worked many years doing something that I have no passion for and I finally decided to open my own online store. I am bumping into a lot of rock blocks, but what doesn’t kill you make you stronger right?
    I love this post and I’ll probably print out to help me remember what I need to do and keep myself motivated. Thank you so much for sharing this.
    My goal is to run a successful online girls clothing store this year!

  25. Joy, these are the best pieces of advice you could give our readers. I really enjoyed reading it and felt it came from your heart. There is so much truth in each advice. I specially love the part where you say that NO is not the end of the world. It opens up other doors. So true!!
    Thank you for such an inspiring post. Loved it!!

  26. My BIGGEST goal is to get back to school for early child development – to be a kindergarten or first grade teacher!!! DYING to achieve this goal. xo

  27. Thank you so much for these posts! I was just talking with a friend about my 101 goals in 1001 days list. I’m nearing the end of the 1001 days, and I keep trying to make excuses to get out of completing all the things I wanted to. We decided it’s about striking a balance between easily achievable goals and ones you really have to push yourself to accomplish. You need the easy ones for confidence boosts, but you need the big ones to really improve yourself. This was a great inspiration to keep pushing myself! Maybe now I’ll also have the motivation to go after my biggest goal of learning French and becoming a teacher!

  28. In two weeks I am going back to school to complete my diploma in Interior Design so I can get my business going again. And to develop a portfolio, website, and client list. I want to show my children that it is possible to achieve your dreams!

  29. OH JOY! You are truly an inspiration! For a couple years now when someone asks me what i want to do or be i respond ” a designer”. I have done little things here and there to work at it but, have yet to sit down and really plan it out. This post has really made me think about it seriously. THANK YOU! YOU ROCK!

  30. I got rejected by an art school I *needed* to attend to become an interior designer just yesterday. It did feel like the end of the world, especially because it was my last chance to attend that school so now I’m left with a big interrogation mark on my studies. I’ve always been the clever one who’s going to do a thousand years long studies, but starting university last year, I realised it wasn’t for me. (Failing the first year of a philosophy degree also helped me realise I needed something creative) The more I think about it, the more I find freelance to be the best way for me to make my dream come true. I don’t like doing things for others, I don’t like obligations, I’m quite the leader and I go big or go home! I’m currently thinking of using my personal blog to post some DIY projects I do to make my place a better one. Maybe one day I’ll be an interior designer, successful or not. And if it goes well, perhaps I could make my biggest dream come true and incorporate my love for fashion and music to the painting.
    Thank you so much for your very helpful advice that really make me believe in my dreams, especially right now after a heartbreaking rejection. ♥

  31. Thanks, Joy! This is so great and very inspiring. I hope to one day be a full-time blogger. I enjoy writing so much. Sometimes I get disillusioned when I think no one is reading my words, but then I realize to keep writing. It’s what I love and that’s that. Thank you for showing us to not give up on our dreams, no matter how unattainable they may appear. You are proof that they do come true.

  32. Absolutely loved these posts. Thank you so much Joy!
    A really inspirational kick up the butt to just get on with it.
    Thank you!

  33. Eliza – I just took a glance at your blog and really enjoy your aesthetic. Best of luck to you in your blogging ventures (you and I share the same goal)!
    Tanya @

  34. I’m breaking the rules and listing two – with nothing but pride! That’s right, I’ve got 2 BIG things I’d like for 2013, things that I’ve poured my heart into. One of which, my personal blog. It’s been ongoing since early 2011 and I’m determined to make it successful. Two, my Etsy shop. For years I resisted diving into this journey, but I took the plunge in August of 2012 and it’s been such a blessing. It’s going where I’d hoped and there is no end in sight.
    Like you said above, you can’t wait around on it and “no” is not the end. I have faith that my determination and strong desire for success will reap happiness – no matter what the road ahead brings.

  35. Hey Joy,
    I’m from Brazil and I have to say, even being far away I feel that your words and thoughts brings the world together. I’ve been reading all your books and I am really loving it. I visit Oh Joy! almost everyday, and every time I do I feel more inspired and happier. Thank you for being so blessed.

  36. Thanks for this inspirational post. Time to speak things into existence! I would love to photograph interiors and food. I have finally been honest with myself about the types of portraits that I most enjoy making. Now, it’s time to figure out how to also add true lifestyle photography to my business.

  37. Hi Joy,
    I LOVE your inspirational posts, and I hope you keep them coming!
    My big goal? To land a book deal!
    So tell me, Joy…do you think I’m cute enough to be in a book?!?

  38. Doing the research is key – I always go back to that one, because you have to know everything about everything and everyone if you want to be really successful.

  39. Hi Joy! Thank you so much for sharing all of your experiences!
    I’m “building” my own kid-teen decor brand and reading your book helps me so much to be more objective and effective! I really want to share with you when it’s ready for you to know how useful your tips were!
    Tks again!

  40. Joy, amazing and inspiring post!!! Just had dinner with Monica from Monica Wang Photography and we chatted about how inspiring and sweet you are! Plus…how do you eat and stay so dang slender?!

  41. this is one of my favorite posts ever. I love the realistic advice (that you know all along, but need someone else to give you the hard truth). It’s true, it’s not enough to dream about something, you have to want it so much you’ll dig for the answers yourself.
    And the affirmation about rejection. it’s painful, but when handled right going back to the drawing board can lead to bigger and better things. Here’s to holding onto dreams with a strong dose of hard work.

  42. I think that is such a brilliant idea, as cute as some of the baby clothes are I hate that there is already so much gender stereo-typing before the little ones can even say their own name! Why does all girl stuff have to be in pink or red and come with princesses and pink flowers and ruffles whereas the boys’ stuff is all about the tractors, robots and dinosaurs?

  43. Ok so I am late in posting BUT…. I am the designer and founder of Valentina, a girls footwear brand for girls 4-14. It is a brand that celebrates creativity and fosters individuality. My goal is to build a national girls’ lifestyle brand rooted in these core values. I call it, “one giant leap for girlkind!”
    Thank you Joy, for sharing your journey to inspire us all!

  44. this is late, but thank you for this wonderful post! I just got blog inc too and can’t wait to read it 🙂 I started my blog and small business (I make handmade paper goods) a few months ago, and I really hope to expand into wholesale selling real soon and to have my blog readership continue to grow!

  45. This is a really good post. I stumbled upon on your blog via pinterest. I read creative inc and I need to get blog inc. You provide great information and I surely will come back to read your blog plus share your wisdom with others.

  46. Hi Joy! I wanted to drop a line and reiterate — along with hundreds of others — how much of an inspiration you are. I’m a fourth year medical student at Penn taking a year out to do something pretty unconventional. In this new venture, I’m putting myself out there quite a bit, which is something I’m not 100% confident about doing. But reading this post when times get tough and frustrating has really helped continue to motivate and inspire me. Thanks so much for your words and insight!

  47. I’m glad I stumbled by your blog and decided to scroll through some pages. Your advice touches on some of the things I have been dealing with these past couple of weeks. I graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design two years ago with a BFA in Graphic Design but the truth is I haven’t done anything with that. I haven’t been able to land a job and sometimes I think that doing graphic design isn’t what I really want to be doing. When I think about what I really, really want, I see myself designing stationary and making prints and illustrating. It’s what I love. But I’m afraid. I’m afraid I’m not good enough, that I can’t be creative enough. When I sit down and try to make something I freeze up, nothing comes out and I feel miserable and such a failure. I wish I had the courage to go for my dreams like you have. I’m slowly coming to terms with what I want and how to get it but I’m terrified out of my mind. Your two posts have pushed me just a little further down the path I want to take and I thank you for writing them. I know a comment like this doesn’t mean much but your words have been very helpful to me.

  48. Hi Gaby,
    Thanks so much for your comment. The great thing about a graphic design degree is that it can be so broad and allow you to have the abilities and skills to do so many things—not just get a traditional agency job. Give yourself a few days to just create and make things that you really love. While youll eventually need to think about pricing and marketing and all the aspects of actually selling those types of products, dont worry about those just yet in order to discover your style and what naturally comes out of you. Ive had plenty of times, even recently, that I had projects on my lap that I didnt know if I could actually do what was expected of me. What being scared actually makes you better, it makes you work harder too.
    Youll find where you are meant to go and what youre meant to do, I promise you that!

  49. Looking at the new year this is the perfect post to start it off. I’ll be honest all your experience and success make me want to give up right now!, but your advice and steps on how to achieve goals really help and make me think I might have a chance. I want to make art and be more involved in my local community art programs. I want to bring people together and make memories through art! Goal!!

  50. I want to have my own business and I want to use it as a platform for women and their overall well-being. I’m not sure how yet or what, but I believe this year is the year 🙂

  51. I know I’m late on this but…I’d like to open my own second hand childrens clothing store. I live ina small town and believe it would do good. I want to be independent and be able to be on my own if need be. This is something I’ve wanted for a really long time.
    Nicole : )

  52. The way to sucess isn’t easy but it doesn’t mean we have to give up. I find myself all the time thinking how can I be sucessful doing what I love and feel so overwhelmed. This post made me feel with hope and a little better. Thanks for sharing!

  53. The way to sucess isn’t easy but it doesn’t mean we have to give up. I find myself all the time thinking how can I be sucessful doing what I love and feel so overwhelmed. This post made me feel with hope and a little better. Thanks for sharing!

  54. Hello joy!
    i love your brand, i love your instagram and for the first time i am reading your blog, and surprise! i love it too! 🙂
    what do i really, really want for this year?
    well, on August i will be graduate from college, im studying marketing.
    i really want to start my own business, but im sure i need some experience right?
    cant wait for your next post…
    love, ale

  55. Thanks for this! They are words I need to keep reminding myself about. I really need to get better with points 2 and 4. After a career change, I’m finally feeling confident with where I’m heading (illustration and design) but now need to put myself out there and approach people and companies so potential clients know I exist 😀


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