How To Do Realistic Goal Setting As A Photographer

We all need monthly and yearly goals to know we are heading to the right direction with our practice and business. But not just any goals; realistic goal setting will work as a guideline when you feel you’ve been off track due to lack of time or unclarity on where you should be heading.

There are multiple ways of setting your goals and intentions for your practice, but I’m going to be discussing the ways I have found to be helpful and effective.

Whether you’re a photography student or an established photographer, you can implement the steps resonates with you.

Realistic Goal Setting
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Why should you start realistic goal setting?

We usually might have ideas and hazy thoughts about where we want to be headed in the future; the ideas might float to us every now and then and we release them as quickly as they came.

This is how our minds work and most of us don’t spend any time on these thoughts. If we just expect things to happen without truly looking into the mechanics of the process, we will be sailing like ships without a destination.

Sitting down and really going through your goals and future plans, will have you feeling enthusiastic about what’s about to happen, but will also set your mind to look at the small steps that you need to take in order to reach your goals.

There are three steps in writing your goals:

  1. Envision the goal; how it would feel and how you’re already experiencing it
  2. Write the steps down backwards; what small steps would you need to take in order to reach this goal?
  3. Start looking for opportunities that support the direction of your goal

Your goals can should be realistic, but this doesn’t mean they cannot be big. Training your mind to switch the thought process from a dream = impossible goal to a reality = possible goal.

There is more to setting your goals than just writing them on paper and wishing they’ll come true.

While writing them, truly imagine the goal happening in your life and envision how it would feel when it will manifest itself into a reality.

I like to write my goals down every week, and during a change of a season or a year, I glance at the goals I’ve written in the past 6 months.

Images are also great support to your goals; seeing what you are going for as well as having it in written form will send a more profound feeling to your mind and strengthens your goals.

Realistic Goal Setting
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1. Envision your goal

I like to sit down and just let my mind wonder to clarify the goals I am going for at this time in my life. This is because we rarely have the time to stop and think about our situation in our practice or business.

I also write down small notes when I encounter events that resonate with me; whether its a publication that interest me or a photo festival I want to apply to in the future.

Think about what it would feel like if you achieved this goal? Where will you be at that time, what are you wearing and what would it make possible for you? Answering these questions will make it more reachable and realistic.

The process can be different for everyone; you might already clearly know what you want. Taking this time to envision it will shift your focus to a more excited approach.

Remember your goals are not just words on a paper but should be something you feel excited about. This will push you towards achieving them.

Realistic Goal Setting
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2. Write the goals down

There are two different ways to approach this; you can either write down the goals you want to focus on, or write all the small goals down which your larger goal requires in order to materialize.

Don’t be discouraged when writing down small goals – they might seem unimportant or too easy to achieve, but they are also necessary when looking at the bigger picture.

If you’re not sure what the steps might be, try to find someone who has reached something similar and mirror that.

For example – if your goal is to have your images published at a magazine, what would be the actual steps to take in order to reach that?

You might think it is just sending your images to the magazine and being accepted. But instead it could mean you would have to intern to that magazine to know better what they are looking for and what is the process of hiring photographers.

Or it might mean that you would have to perfect your imagery and produce work that better fits their themes.

Either way, once you feel you have a better understanding of the steps, you can start taking small action towards them.

Realistic Goal Setting
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3. Welcome opportunities to move you closer to your goals

This is as important as the first step. Don’t just write down your goals and then put the notebook away. Review these goals weekly or monthly, to keep them alive and to keep yourself conscious on achieving them.

You need to start actually working towards these goals whether it’s sending out applications or editing your portfolio for specific open calls.

You can set up a weekly schedule as a new habit and start going through new open calls, submissions and grant applications to get to the mindset of doing this routinely. After all, you are what you consume.

And remember to celebrate your wins – even the smallest most insignificant changes are all taking you closer to your goals. You might not just know it yet.

If you liked this article, you might like How To Make Your Own Proposals + Grant Proposal Template For Photographers

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