Art & Symbol As Catalysts for Personal Growth

The human experience isn’t meant to be measured by data & analytics.

Lance Baker


Photo by Dan Farrell on Unsplash

Have you ever felt stuck, despite your best efforts to achieve your goals? Maybe you’ve set SMART goals, used data to track your progress, and implemented various productivity hacks, but still find yourself unfulfilled or uninspired. If so, you’re not alone. In fact, there’s a good reason why data and metrics alone can only take us so far.

As human beings, we are wired for story, symbols, art, and imagery. These are the things that resonate with us on a deep emotional and psychological level, and that can inspire us to take action, even in the face of obstacles. This is why, when it comes to setting goals and making progress in life, we need more than just data and metrics. We need the power of imagery.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cycled through different habit tracking apps and different methodologies for documenting various aspects of my life. I get really amped up about sticking with it but, without fail, after a few weeks I start to ignore the push notifications and eventually stop checking the app altogether. It just becomes noise.

In trying to do some research around goal setting, I came across Angstrom’s “Discover Your Life’s Goals” tool. (Ironically, Angstrom ultimately sells a planner & tracker, but their goal tool triggered another path of exploration for me.)

Instead of just asking what your goals are, how many times a week you want to work on them and so on, it begins by telling the story of your funeral.

Through a series of prompts, it asks you to imagine your friends and loved ones coming up and sharing some words about your life. How do they remember you? What do they say? What were you known for?

The tool then leads you to create specific goals and milestones to help you become that person. But I didn’t even get to far into that because the imaginative experience was more profound and motivating than any goal tracker I’ve ever used.

This set me off on a journey to discovery more about the power of symbol, imagery, imagination, and art as part of my personal growth. I will share more about that in subsequent posts but, for now, I…



Lance Baker

A fellow observer on the journey through life. Trying to cultivate a deeper way of being in the world.