Turn Photography New Year’s Resolutions into Reality

Insights & Thoughts January 5th 2013 12:04 PM One Comment

Well, it’s here, that perennial season of resolutions and good intentions. We’ve made it through the holidays and the best Christmas present has been saved till last: a clean slate. The New Year, like a blank canvas, brilliant with possibility, is laid out in front of you.

In the spirit of the season, I was going to write an article on Five Resolutions to Improve Your Photography Business in the new year. But then, it’s likely that’s the last thing you need.  We all have more than enough resolutions. In fact, many of last year’s resolutions, shiny and full of promise in January, are getting re-installed on the list again this year because they are not even close to being realized.

So, instead of giving you five more resolutions to add to your list, here are five steps to help you accomplish the ones you have made yourself.

Dream big.

If you are inspired by your goals, you will be willing to put in the time and energy needed to accomplish them over the long haul. Some people never get any traction toward their dreams because they have anemic plans that they don’t care about. Remember that even the biggest goals can be realized once divided into smaller, accomplishable steps. It’s a mistake to make a list of tiny unmotivating resolutions you think are ‘realistic’ but that don’t truly tap into your passion. Instead, focus on one or two truly motivating big goals that you think would be really, really cool to reach, and then…

Break the ‘big dream’ down into actionable steps.

Sometimes the resolutions we make are too small to inspire us. But other times the opposite is true: our dreams are very big. In fact, they are so big that we don’t ever start because we can’t find a good place to get our teeth in and take the first bite. For example, the goal: “Write my Autobiography” is a big, motivating dream. So far, so good. But writing a book with no prior experience is too big of a task to approach in one sitting and so gets put off in favor of a task we know how to get started on, such as, “Check Facebook” or “Surf other Photographer’s websites”, or “Look at pictures of LOL cats on the internet”.

However, if you translate the bigger goal of “Write my autobiography” into something manageable such as, “Sit down for 15 min and write one page of memories.” Each 15 minute writing session is a step on the road toward having the material for your autobiography ready for the final step of putting it together into a book. With the completion each little bite sized task, you will be one step closer to your ‘big’ goal. Reaching mini-destinations is the way to make it to the big destination.

But having big dreams broken up into small tasks is not the only thing, you also need to…

Put ‘bite sized’ actionable steps in the calendar

It’s not enough to identify the action steps, you also need to schedule them in the calendar. It might be every day at 8am or it might be once a day at noon, or it might be the first Thursday evening in a month. Whatever it is, treat it exactly as if it was an appointment with a paying client. Don’t reschedule for other things that come up. Without keeping these little appointments, the big goal will remain undone, so don’t let anything put these dates off.

A good way to motivate yourself not to put these things off is the pressure of a countdown to the buzzer, so…

Set Deadlines for Your Resolutions

Deadlines are the magic dust that transforms daydreams into goals and goals into accomplishments. Set a deadline for the small steps and set a reasonable ETA for reaching the ‘Big Dream’. Having a due-date looming will help to lend urgency to some of the important things you really want to accomplish. We all put off the things that we know are important because life has an unending supply of ‘urgent’ distractions to get in the way. Setting deadlines for your action steps and completion dates for when your ‘big dream’ will be accomplished, helps to lend some urgency to a goal that you have decided is important to you. Rather than just letting life dictate what is urgent.

But everyone needs a little help from their friends so in your pursuit of the ‘big dream’ be sure to…

Stay Accountable

It’s not only true that there is safety in numbers, there’s also accomplishment in numbers. You are much more likely to keep a promise you make to another person than one you make to yourself.  Agree to have an action step completed by an agreed upon time and ask a friend to check in with you. It is invaluable to have someone on your side in the fight to accomplish your plans. With a friend, you’re more likely to stick to the path. The journey is more rewarding when shared. And the finish line is more fun when there’s someone who helped you reach the top to celebrate with when you finally make it.

Conclusion for New Year’s Resolutions

Getting your resolutions accomplished is more than a matter of luck. The way to turn resolutions into reality is make a big goal and then break it into action steps; schedule action and commit to it; and get someone else onboard to keep you accountable and to share the sweet taste of success. If you follow these steps, this time next year instead of rebooting the same old unrealized promises you can look back and see a list of accomplishments instead.

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About

AJ Coots is a headshot and commercial photographer based in Portland, Oregon. (www.ajc-photography.com)
In addition to being a regular contributor to SLR Lounge, AJ has been seen on CreativeLIVE.com and Kevin Kubota’s Photographer’s Ignite. When she’s not awkwardly composing her bio in the third person, she teaches photography + lighting workshops and speaks publicly (and privately) to emerging photographers about the business of being a creative entrepreneur.

One Comment

  1. Brian Smith

    Great advice AJ, the key to a successful photography career is more likely advanced by a series of small steps than a giant leap!

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