Photo by Angela de Baat
It's rainy outside and while writing this I'm deliberating if I'm even going to leave the house today. January is usually not my favorite month. It's cold, rainy, sometimes there's wet snow... the holidays are over and spring is still far far away. But this year January feels different. It feels like a fresh start, despite of the rain and cold. What probably helps, is that I've set some clear goals for my illustration work this year and I feel that I get more energy from working on reaching those goals.
I'm not going to share my exact goals as it is a bit private as well, but they could generally be devided in the following categories: marketing/PR of my artwork, clients, artistic development and money & income. I will share one of my artistic development goals with you: I want to improve my skills where it comes to ink illustrations and I love japanese art. So I've signed myself up for a course in Sumi-E painting, a Japanese way of painting with ink. The course starts in February and I'm very excited about incorporating this technique in my fashion illustrations.
The Idea of goal setting
Now what I am going to share with you is how I define my goals als a creative and how I perceive the whole idea of goals. Let's start with the latter. To me, goals should be somewhat realistic but also something to aspire to. So do dream big! My idea of goals is not that I can cross every single one off the list at the end of the year, but that they help me to take steps forward in my business as an illustrator and in life in general. Still, you want them to be somewhere within your reach, otherwise it will get frustrating. Yes, this is a difficult balance to find and I'll give an example to make it clearer: you can have as a goal: being a well-known photographer / illustrator / designer within my area of expertise with regular high-profile clients. You might not be there yet, but it's realistic. Whereas the goal 'being the most famous photographer / illustrator / designer in the world is defenitely dreaming big, but might be a bit over the top and not within your reach (or maybe it is, I don't know who's reading this ;)).
How to set goals effectively
Now let's get into setting goals. I guess this might be a bit different for everyone, but I will share with you how I did it this year. First, I've defined my 3 year goals, so where I want to be in 3 years from now. Why 3? Because it's not that far away. 5 years seems like ages to me, so 3 seemed better. After that, I've defined my goals for this year. Of course they have to relate to the 3 year goals. After setting my goals for 2019, I've defined my goals for the first 3 months of this year and that's were it's getting really concrete. Because 3 months can fly by before you notice it. And now we're getting this concrete, let's get even more specific. Which steps do you actually have to take to reach your 3-month goals? Write these steps down and get to it! That's how you reach your goals. So if your goal is for example 'getting more exposure via PR' , the different steps you have to take to get it could be 'writing a pitch' , 'researching journalists and magazines who might be interested in my work and pitch', 'e-mailing the pitch to these people' and so on...
Also, make your goals as specific als possible. So 'getting more exposure via PR' is still a bit vague. It should be something like: Getting 4 magazines or online platforms to write about my work within this year' .
I hope this was useful and will help you to define your goals. Also, goals are not something static. You can change them over time. You change and your goals should change with you. So if you've already set your goals for 2019 but feel like changing them, that's totally ok. Good luck!