The Lazy Way of Setting Goals

Summer 2016 Dublin, Ohio

Summer 2016
Dublin, Ohio

Goal Setting is always one of the first activities I introduce, whether I’m working with undergraduate students or seasoned creative professionals. Rarely do those I work with think about goals for the first time with me. We’re taught to think about goals almost reflexively throughout our lives. In fact, most creative individuals have at least a passing familiarity with the SMART criteria for setting goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound). They might not be able to recite the acronym or its founder’s name, but they certainly know the essence of its goal: To concretize big goals into attainable chunks.

 

What is different about what we do is the process of quantifying goals. After all, without figuring out what a goal will cost, both in money and in time, it is incredibly difficult to weigh its importance, or what it will “cost” us (literally and figuratively) to accomplish. And without understanding the true cost of our goals, it is impossible to decide honestly if we really want to pursue them. (Sometimes we just think we want the goal’s outcome, without actually wanting the process of accomplishing the goal.)

 

The process of quantifying a goal isn’t pretty. It starts with the question, “What do you need to accomplish this goal?” This is where the temptation to give a lazy, smug answer is almost unbearable. I know we all need more time. And I know we all need more money. But claiming you cannot accomplish your goal without artificially manufacturing more of either is a lazy approach to goal setting. It deprives you of the empowerment of laying out – and executing – a plan.

 

So yes. You need time and money to accomplish your goal. I’ll stipulate that. But if your goal-setting process stops there, you’ll never get closer to where you want to be.

 

So let’s go deeper, shall we? What do you really need to accomplish your goal?

 

Do you need uninterrupted time off of work? Do you need space to work creatively? Do you need to silence your phone? Do you need to have a dog-walker or child-care to limit your interruptions? Do you need supplies? Do you need special software? Does your process involve both physical and digital output? List all thing things you need –beyond simply time and money – to accomplish your goal.

 

Next ask, “What do you need to do to accomplish your goal?” What processes do you need to have in place? How will the project unfold? How much time – realistically – will each step take? What prep work did you forget? What follow-up work is missing?

 

The last question is perhaps the most important: “What will it cost?” You’ve listed a number of tangible things, each of which likely has a cost associated with it. You’ve also listed a number of tasks. Calculate the cost of each, whether it is in unbillable time (the opportunity cost of your time) or in actual dollars. (And don’t forget to include all the costs even if you won’t have to pay them in cash. Costs you’ve already incurred are still costs of the goal.)

 

Answering these questions brings us to the tactical level of any goal, and the input items and tasks become insanely detailed. But those details are crucial for really understanding what we’ll need (and what we’ll need to do!) to accomplish our goals. Those details provide the tactical plan (road map) to move us towards our goals, and a clear way of quantifying the process. They won’t always be exactly right (goodness knows plans change), but at least we’ll know where to start and what to do first. Then we supplement the plan with our gut instincts, reflexes, and problem-solving skills along the way.

 

But the plan is impossible to follow if we blame our lack of time and our lack of money for our own shortcomings.

 

Yes. With unlimited time and unlimited money, our goals might seem easier to accomplish. But deep down we all know that isn’t true. Unlimited time and unlimited resources might make a goal seem more attainable, but by blaming the lack of time and lack of resources for our own personal failures to accomplish our goals, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to accomplish them. We deprive ourselves of our own empowerment.

 

And a lack of empowerment probably isn’t the overall goal.

 

Now What?

Want to learn more about quantifying goals? Check out Goal Setting for Portfolio Careers, a 3-hour self-study course to put these theories into creative action.

 

SS_GoalSettingGoal Setting for Portfolio Careers

You probably have a goal: To keep doing exactly what you want to be doing without going broke. But what if you could do more? In this course, you’ll learn why the traits that enhance your creativity are also fantastic for building tools to make your creative career work for you.

This course is completely self-paced, meaning you can read the materials and do the activities on your own time. But don’t worry. You won’t be alone.

At Minerva Financial Arts, we care about artists and the community… A lot. All our courses are distinguished from others by Elaine’s hands-on, supportive approach to coaching you through the material. Enjoy!

 

Portfolio Careers in Action

Summer 2016 Charleston, South Carolina

Summer 2016
Charleston, South Carolina

In honor of Labor Day, we wanted to spend some time thinking about all the work creative individuals do to make a creative career successful. This is not the glamorous stuff. This is everything else. And of course, all month we’ll be talking about building creative portfolio careers and the types of work that might fall into various categories within a portfolio career.

 

We won’t spend much time on articulating a “starring role.” You know your starring role. It’s your thing. It’s the thing you’d do with unlimited time and unlimited resources. It’s what your brain thinks about as it rests, and it’s what you constantly try to improve. It’s what brings you deep, professional satisfaction when done well. It’s your true calling. It’s your thing.

 

Supporting cast roles are those roles or jobs that support your thing… Without being the actual thing itself. Maybe you use some of the same skills (like technical skills or other carefully honed talents); maybe there is industry overlap (like common connections or mutual support). Supporting cast roles support your starring role, and that support can take any number of forms. The most common examples of support cast roles we’ve heard are:

  • Teaching. Whether you teach in a formal educational program, as an adjunct or other part-time instructor, or in a less formal community setting, getting paid to share your expertise and knowledge with others can be a wonderful complementary stream of income. When called upon to share our knowledge, most of us can’t help but deepen that knowledge, and sharing something we love with others often brings considerable joy (not to mention a bit of additional income). But choose the setting and the students wisely. A mis-match can be a recipe for disaster.
  • Writing. Sharing what you do in written, oral, or visual form, for major publications, blogs, or something in between can provide a small amount of additional income, with the added bonus of a bit of advertising and recognition as an expert thrown in for good measure. Writing – like teaching – is sharing your expertise in a way that complements your preferred channel for sharing it.
  • Products. If what you do includes anything tangible, you might have an opportunity to monetize that product within your community. An enterprising fashion designer might monetize a specially designed ruler; a performer might monetize a specialized undergarment. A designer might monetize a web layout design; an illustrator or photographer might do the same for icons or stock photos. Rarely are these the primary sources of our professional fulfillment. It is far more likely that we use these as opportunities to capitalize on our unique skills, while freeing our time to focus on more fulfilling work.
  • Work for non-ideal clients. If your starring role is very narrowly defined, a supporting cast role for you might involve the same type of work for a client you’d rather not have. This might be a fine arts photographer who also happens to photograph senior portraits, or a jazz musician who also happens to perform at weddings. It could be a fiction writer who moonlights as a whitepaper researcher, or a curator who also hangs art in retail stores. This work doesn’t detract from your starring role. In fact, by providing an additional stream of income, it actually frees you financially to focus on the starring role work you really want to be doing (and talking about).
  • Work for industry-aligned groups. Previously, the supporting cast role examples have tended to using the same skill set required for a starring role… just in a slightly different setting. We can also think about supporting cast role work as providing intangible benefits within our industries, regardless of the skills we use. Visual artists might work at an art supply store; freelance designers might also work an administrative job at a design museum, greeting guests. Writers might also do IT work for a publishing house. These types of supporting cast role works support the starring role, not necessarily by enhancing skills, but rather by building connections, community, and a larger network of support.

 

Production assistance work is the temporary, repeatable, and stable work that we can use as “filler work” when and if the need arises. This work is also (usually) the source of the greatest stories. We’ve heard examples of production assistance work that runs the gamut (and stretches the imagination). A few of our favorite examples are included below. Enjoy.

  • Dog walker
  • House sitter
  • Baby sitter
  • Valet
  • Bartender
  • Food service provider
  • Retail worker
  • Construction worker
  • House cleaner
  • Landscaper
  • Personal shopper
  • Tutor

 

Here’s hoping some of these examples help provide a bit of context to your own creative career. Keep those great examples coming!

 

Now What?

Want to learn more? Check out Goal Setting for Portfolio Careers, a 3-hour self-study course to put these theories into creative action.

 

SS_GoalSettingGoal Setting for Portfolio Careers

You probably have a goal: To keep doing exactly what you want to be doing without going broke. But what if you could do more? In this course, you’ll learn why the traits that enhance your creativity are also fantastic for building tools to make your creative career work for you.

This course is completely self-paced, meaning you can read the materials and do the activities on your own time. But don’t worry. You won’t be alone.

At Minerva Financial Arts, we care about artists and the community… A lot. All our courses are distinguished from others by Elaine’s hands-on, supportive approach to coaching you through the material. Enjoy!