It’s a New Year – Let’s Talk About Setting Goals
It’s the beginning of a New Year (ish. It’s still January, okay???) and everyone is inspired to self-improve. Myself included.
In the past, I’ve really struggled with goal setting. At the beginning of 2018, I wrote out a list of everything I wanted to accomplish. These dreams had deadlines and dollar signs and other specific metrics—everything I’d been told a goal needed to include.
And I fell short of all of my plans. Drastically. As the year progressed and I faced this reality, the result was a hit on my self-confidence.
I had such a fulfilling photography business in 2018. I worked less and made more than I did the year before. I refined a lot of my systems and got a lot better at tackling my to-do lists. I met some really incredible people and got to be a part of their story. And I was actually really proud of the art I created. However, falling short of the numbers I’d set as goals loomed in the back of my head. It somewhat dampened the joy of what I was experiencing.
In 2019, I ditched setting measurable goals in advance all together. In my mind, putting numbers/dates on dreams made them either success or failures and did not take into account “improvement.” I resolved to simply engage in productive behavior and figured that by doing so, a desirable result would eventually materialize. Even if I didn’t fully articulate what I wanted that end result to be.
A year ago, I wrote the note “I predict that having a direction without setting a final destination will work better for me.” Lol I always cringe reading my old writing… I definitely didn’t have a destination, but I also didn’t have a direction other than a vague “productive.”
Another year older, my perspective on goals has changed still. This year, I’ve set specific, measurable, action-based goals. It’s a sort of combination of my perspectives from the past two years.
To do this, I’ve dreamed up where I want to be/what I want to have accomplished by 2021. Complete with specific, measurable metrics. And then I determine what I’d have to do each month to make that year dream come true. And then I determine what I’d have to do each week to make those month dreams come true. These goals are only for one week so they’re bite-sized and quickly achieved. Smaller goals seem so much more manageable. And I want the immediate satisfaction of small wins to motivate me to continue.
These weekly goals are all action-based, not result-based. I guess I’m not really setting “goals” as much as I’m setting weekly “to-do lists.” For example, instead of setting a result-based goal to “Earn $___ from my photography business in a week,” I’d set action-based goals like “get lunch with 2 other wedding vendors this week” or “spend x amount of time blogging this week.” If you manage your activity, you’ll achieve the results you want. And with action-based goals, I have the satisfaction of completing my goals even if they don’t completely bring me to a result “on schedule.” When I complete action-based goals, some degree of progress toward the end result is made and I don’t open myself up to feeling inadequate.
I’ve made physical, spiritual, social, family, financial and emotional goals for my life generally, but I’m holding off on making photography-goals for a few more months. I just started my post-college life and recently accepted a job in Salt Lake City. It’s my second week on the job and I want to adjust more to this new lifestyle and evaluate how demanding this new adventure will be. All I know is that photography is near to my heart and I do not want to give it up altogether.