Reaching Our Goals
How can we give ourselves a better chance of reaching our goals as professional photographers? First of all, we need to pick our goals and clarify what we want to achieve. Then we break those goals down into smaller steps that can begin to form a plan of action. Once we have our plan, we need to persevere through the difficulties to keep making progress. Our perseverance needs to be accompanied by prioritisation so that we don’t lose focus and drift off target. Success rarely happens by accident!
Pick Your Goal(s) Wisely
If we are going to chase after something for months or years then it has to be important to us. Otherwise, chances are that we’ll give up. So, it is vital that we choose goals that we are passionate about. Make sure that you understand your core motivator(s). Sustainable enthusiasm makes reaching our goals much easier. Working towards something we don’t really want can be a terrible struggle. That’s not to say that it will be easy if we choose the “right” goals. We will still face many challenges along the way. But, if we are targeting something that we strongly desire then we are much more likely to last the distance and reach our targets.
Choosing which goals we are going for is a process of weeding out options. We need to cut out things that are not as important, or see if they somehow fit underneath our main goal(s) and can be part of the journey. Having as few as possible end goals makes it easier to target them and to reach them. If we are spread too thin and don’t have a core focus then we are making life much more difficult for ourselves.
Plan For Success
Once we have our core aim(s) in place then we can start to put together a plan for reaching our goal(s). This involves breaking down the end goal(s) into more manageable smaller targets. Rather than seeing the big jump we need to make to get to the end result and risking being intimidated by it, it is easier to work at bite-sized chunks that each contribute to the whole. Smaller sub-level goals can be completed in a shorter timeframe and can give us concrete evidence that we are making progress. They make it easier to get where we want to go and to remain motivated along the way.
The lower level goals can be anything that helps you move in the right direction. This could be sharpening skills, making contacts, establishing a reputation, building a portfolio and more. If we can see how they can facilitate our growth towards our ultimate aims then even some pretty mundane tasks can start to take on more of a sense of purpose. This also helps us to sift out things that are perhaps not as productive. They might not be “bad” things to do, but maybe they don’t contribute to us reaching our goals and risk being a distraction. We simply can’t do everything, so if we really want to hit our targets then we sometimes have to say no. Understanding our key motivators and what we are trying to achieve can help us develop a framework for making those decisions.
With all that life can throw at us it can be easy to drift off course or even lose sight of our goals altogether. Perseverance is essential if we really want to reach our targets. Things will come along that get in the way. Doubts will arise and we’ll wonder if we are ever going to make it. If we give in to them, then we won’t make progress. Pushing on, even when it is hard to do so, is a necessary part of achieving big goals.
Sometimes our circumstances might dictate that actually our goals need to change. Maybe we realised that they aren’t our core passion after all. Perhaps something happens that makes it impossible. Yes, we need to revisit our aims and see if we are still on the right track. But, we will have to beware of those molehills that seem to be mountains. Many obstacles can be overcome. Some issues can seem far worse than they really are and sometimes our plans need to shift to allow us to adapt to what is happening. Don’t be too quick to abandon your goals, but do be open to finding new ways of reaching them.
It can make a huge difference if you have some means of accountability available to you – a person or people that you keep aware of how your journey is going. Making commitments to yourself is good and important. However, it can be easier to drift when you are only accountable to yourself. Having others that ask you about progress is something else entirely. You need to grant them permission to help you. Think of them as enablers – keeping you motivated and moving. Obviously you will need to choose carefully to whom you grant this important role.
Prioritise Reaching Our Goals
Chasing a dream, working towards something we are passionate about helps us to understand what we need to prioritise. We will need to say “no” to things at times in order to stay on track. Our energy levels, resources and time can only stretch so far. Maintaining steady momentum towards our goals requires us to prioritise them. This is why it is so important that they are in line with our core motivator(s), values and passion. They become a lens through which we evaluate our activities and the catalyst for trying new things. We prioritise things that we really want. So, if we are struggling to prioritise our activities to make progress towards our goals that might reveal that we need to re-evaluate those goals.
© Joe Lenton, Jan 2024
For more, please listen to our podcast episode on motivation & goals.