Today we’re going to talk about goal setting and why it is so important to success. There’s no way that I would have made my own break without setting clear, ambitious goals and working hard to achieve them. It’s what got me started in this business and it’s something I do every single day in order to keep learning and growing.
The biggest goal that I have set for myself was to quit my day job as an electrician and become a full-time wedding photographer. Breaking into the creative industry can be difficult, especially if you don’t already have a foothold in it; however, I made it even harder for myself by saying that I wanted to be:
I quickly realised that I wouldn’t be able to manage this if I had a job. I needed to give 100%. So, I quit my job and…that’s when the full weight of reality hit me. I had to pay rent, look after my partner who was in Uni, oh, and I also had two mortgages!
How was I going to achieve these goals? Well, first up I knew I didn’t need any luxuries. I didn’t need a car (I’ll take the train!), I didn’t need a TV (I’ll research photography in the evenings!), basically I didn’t need any of the monetary-focused things that you save up for when you’re working full-time as a means to an end. Now things were different. I was passionate enough about the goals that I’d set to do whatever I could to make it work.
However, we were entering the off-season for weddings in Australia and waiting six months in order to start booking regular gigs didn’t fit in with my goals of shooting internationally and becoming successful within one year. Maybe if I hadn’t set myself these goals, I would have been more flexible but I’m so glad that I stuck to my plan and made my own break instead of letting life happen to me. I booked two tickets for my partner and me to fly to the US, where the wedding season was just kicking off. I contacted blogs, magazines, other photographers, etc. and told them my ambitions and even offered to shoot weddings for free, for a couch to sleep on – it didn’t matter because it’s what I needed to do to achieve my goals.
We shot about 10 weddings all over the country and in some truly epic settings; this was before Adventure Weddings became a big thing, so the shots I got were really unique. When I came back to Melbourne, I was an international wedding photographer AND I had 10 awesome weddings on my website and Instagram, all because I had set ambitious goals and worked incredibly hard to achieve them. I booked 30 weddings for the next year, achieving my goal of becoming a full-time wedding photographer. And because it looked as I was pretty well established I managed to get sponsorship from some US companies and in 2015 I won a bunch of awards as well as being named in Rangefinder’s Top 30 Wedding Photographers.
I learned a lot about goal setting along the way and I want to share this knowledge with you.
First up, it is so important to pat yourself on the back for all of the goals – big and small – that you achieve. If you don’t, no one else will! Get some perspective and look how far you’ve come since you set out on this path. Appreciate the hard work and long nights that have got you here and use that energy to propel yourself towards future goals.
In my mentoring sessions, we talk about setting SMART goals. I don’t want to get to business-ey, as I know a lot of you come here for the inspiring stories; however, I find that setting the right kind of goals is just as important as the concept of setting goals altogether.
For example, You might say I want to make $10,000 in 3 months. OK, that’s a tangible goal but it’s not very inspiring. What could that $10K do for you? You could go on holiday, invest in your business, help the people around you…anything that gets you inspired to complete that goal. Locking in on a feeling rather than a figure will always be more motivating.
So, what are SMART goals?
The more specific your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. Compare ‘I want to lose weight’ with ‘I want to lose 10 kilos in 3 months so I look great in my holiday snaps’. The former is too vague but the latter gives you a set target as well as a reason to achieve it.
Humans love to measure things, especially success. Have a set goal for financials, e.g. I want to hit $1K every week on shop sales. Just remember to celebrate when you hit them!
As you can gather from the story I just told, my goals were pretty unrealistic but I reached them. Although I’m really happy that I did it this way, I understand that some people will respond better to realistic, attainable goals. I don’t expect everyone to be the emailing-on-a-Sunday workaholic that I am and I totally appreciate that. So if you want to ensure a work/life balance as well as dreaming BIG, maybe set a large unrealistic goal but set smaller attainable goals that you can hit on your way there. That way you’re day-to-day life will be full of wins whether you hit your big target or not.
If you set relevant goals, it means that you won’t take on unnecessary work. For example, when wanted to become an international wedding photographer and had no real income, I would get offered money for family portrait shoots…but I would turn them down. People thought I was crazy but it’s because they weren’t getting me close to my goal. Making contacts, blogging, posting on social media were all more important to my goal than making a quick buck doing something that was just going to distract me.
Locking your goal into a time-frame will make you so much more efficient. When I started this podcast, I gave myself a four-week deadline. This was unrealistic, as we had to source equipment, outsource work, etc. but I didn’t let the date slip and we made ended up making it. And as any entrepreneur will know, there is no better feeling than reaching your goal inside of the time limit that you set.
We’ve got time for one more quick story. I have family in Norway and I thought ‘How cool would it be if I could shoot a wedding in Norway and catch up with my family at the same time?’ So, I set a time limit of a year and started putting #Norwaywedding hashtags on my Insta, reaching out to Norwegian bloggers and photographers, essentially doing everything to tell the universe what my goal was. Within 3 weeks, someone approached me to shoot their wedding in Norway. I was floored. Amazing!
What it reinforced in my mind is that you have to tell people about your goals, tell them your passions and then you will have so much more chance of reaching them. It sounds simple, but it’s something so crucial that a lot of people forget about. Let the universe in on your plan and it will help you in return.
As we come to the end of the year, I want you to think about goal setting. Think about the goals you’ve already hit in the last 12 months. Then think about what goals you want to set next year and what you need to do to achieve them. This could be signing up to a workshop, getting some mentoring or even buying a flight to go and see someone in the industry who you admire and just starting a conversation.
Whatever it is, you need to take charge of your business and make your own break – setting SMART goals and working hard in order to achieve them is the best way I know to do this.
Thanks so much for listening and I’ll see you next episode!
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