My fingers are crossed. Will there be a lump of coal in my stocking this Christmas? Will there be anything under the tree?


You see, I was naughty.


When you're naughty, you make Santa's naughty list — and that means you don't get what you want.


Why was I naughty? Simply put, I didn't practice what I preach. And I learned an important lesson.


For 2014, I tried something new. I decided my system for getting things done needed an upgrade, so instead of writing out my to-do list each day and reviewing my goal list in my journal, which is always at my side, I converted to a digital solution. Now all my goals and "to do's" are on the cloud, and I can access them everywhere.


Seems like a reasonable solution, but my digital approach failed me — or I failed it.


Last week I was killing time on an airplane, poking around all the programs and documents on my iPad because I was bored and didn't feel like working. I opened my goals document for 2014 and started checking them off one by one.


Then something terrible happened: I realized I had missed over 30 percent of my annual goals. Gulp.


I also realized that I hadn't opened my goals document for several months. Had I opened it and looked at them, I would have achieved most of those missed goals.


I'm frustrated.


What's the lesson in this?


I'm big on annual goals. It's important to have them, but only if they are realistic, measurable, and believable (though we all need to stretch). But goals don't work if you don't refer to them frequently.


In hindsight, my new system failed because I wasn't forcing myself to transfer my daily to-do list and my monthly goals to a new sheet of paper each day. I thought I was saving time, but when Charles Hobbs first taught me his system decades ago, the key to success was taking the time to evaluate your goals and to-do list each day so they remain on your mind at every turn. By not doing that, I failed myself and missed 30 percent of my annual goals.


What does this have to do with marketing your art?


I'm a strong believer in setting and following goals, even very simple ones. You're more likely to achieve them if you look at them and work toward them in small bites. Something as simple as setting a goal of devoting 20 percent of your time to marketing can change your life. If you work an average 40-hour week, you'll make amazing progress if you force yourself to spend eight hours a week on marketing. But if you forget to do it, your sales will suffer.


Did you achieve what you want to achieve this year?


Did you make progress toward your goal?


I made progress, and I achieved some of what I want to achieve (including a new event, which I'll announce in February). But I missed more than I'd hoped to miss. Now I have to add those goals to my 2015 goals, which means I'll have to work harder to catch up.


As artists, it's more fun to paint than it is to focus on marketing or other goals. I don't like to take out the garbage either, but there are things we simply have to do to keep the flies out of the house.


This was a giant wake-up call for me. Rarely do I miss my goals, but I allowed my system to fail me. My fault — I simply wasn't paying attention.


I'd like to encourage you to use the peaceful time over the holidays to do some dreaming, set some goals, and then break them out into small monthly, then weekly, bites. Then look at them every day, or at least every week. It will change the outcome. It's a little thing that makes a giant difference. Just don't make the mistake I did.


Because I'm on the naughty list, I'll not be receiving all the things I hoped to achieve this year. Naughty was my own fault.


Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah. Happy Holidays.


Eric Rhoads


PS: I'm so grateful. Thousands of artists have watched my Art Marketing Boot Camp videos and I have heard from hundreds of them that their lives have changed. It does my heart good to know that my system can help artists live their dreams. In my first video, Art Marketing Boot Camp I, explain my goal-setting system and my system for deeply discovering what you really want in your life. You can find it here. If you know an artist who wants to live the dream, give it to them for Christmas. It's life-changing.