The vast majority of us are not natural born managers. Many managers have had to study, research and gain practical experience in the field before they can earn the title. But what do you do if you’re a creative practitioner, freelancer or sole trader who is in charge of their own career? The idea of administration, planning and goal-setting can seem overwhelming if you don’t have the necessary tools or experience.
Enter Creative + Business. This is a firm that provides advice, guidance, training and resources to creative businesses and individuals. Monica Davidson of Creative + Business recently delivered a full-day course for Vivid Ideas called Deadlines, Dreams & Goals. We list the top 10 things we learned at this class.
1. When we were young we were accountable to other people like our parents, teachers, friends, etc. But when you are self-employed you have to learn how to be accountable to yourself. This requires discipline, time management, resilience and a strong interest in caring about what you want.
2. Goal-setting is an important and learned skill. One way to develop some goals is to sit down with a blank piece of paper and visualise your perfect day. You can write this down or draw pictures but in documenting it you should not edit, judge or critique things. When you have finished you can look over it and try to translate it into some short-term possibilities.
3. People are often great at making goals (consider New Year’s resolutions) but they aren’t always good at achieving them. When we make goals we need to consider whether it is an external measure of success that we have no control over like winning a contract or award, receiving a promotion or getting an audition. We should also consider the internal measure of success like: a sense of calm and feeling prepared, considering or reframing the exercise as a networking opportunity or being happy with yourself that you turned up and gave it your all.
4. It is important to plan ahead when setting goals. Some key parts of this can involve: brainstorming the things you need to do in order to get there, prioritising these steps, realising what things you can and can’t control, visualising how long things will take, being specific, understanding it’s okay to fail and understanding why you want to achieve this because this can often be more important then what you actually want.
5. When evaluating goals or other questions it can be useful to do a cost-benefit analysis. These can be worthwhile in determining how feasible things are because you can see what the monetary costs and benefits are to yourself. You can also consider the opportunity costs of such things that contribute to gains or losses on your part.
6. We need to learn to acknowledge our successes and realise how far we’ve come when this is the case. People frequently attribute things to “luck” but in many cases it wasn’t luck at all but a combination of hard work, planning and seizing opportunities. In the book, The Luck Factor by Dr Richard Wiseman he found that luck wasn’t as pervasive as we think. He also found that a perceived luck or lack of luck was formed by personality and experience. He found that “lucky” people were naturally more observant, optimistic and extroverted.
7. It is important to realise that successful people quit all the time. It is fine to quit something but if we do quit this needs to be a strategic choice rather than one made out of desperation. Any decision made out of desperation is always going to be a bad one.
8. We all take different approaches to meeting deadlines. We can be one or more of the following:
a. Tortoises: who start everything today, work slowly and plod towards deadlines
b. Puppies: who tend to get to their destination but are easily distractible
c. Rabbits: who work feverishly to get everything done at the last possible minute
It is useful to know which of these categories we sit in, especially when it comes to goals because the difference between deadlines and goals can be a case of internal versus external pressures. A way to meet goals can be through the use of an accountability buddy who regularly checks in with our progress, to remove the words “later” and “soon” and actually set times to achieve things and to use rewards or punishments where necessary.
9. Procrastination can be seen as a way of warming up and it can be useful for some people to get started provided it is finite. Time munchers can be more dangerous than procrastination because they are things that often feel constructive but they don’t actually achieve anything beyond draining your time. A good way to identify time munchers is to use a tracking app but some examples can include:
a. Pointless organising: like filing things into folders only to constantly change the system for no reason or benefit
b. Frequently “researching” things with no final end-game or destination
c. Constantly checking emails: a good way to combat this is to turn off your notifications so you’re not tempted and to use systems like Boomerang to set up times when emails are sent out by you to your clients
10. Setting up a goal matrix can be a good way to achieve goals. To do this you should try to timetable the next three months by blocking out commitments or other things that cannot be changed and to set some realistic goals or milestone steps. We need to consider what can be realistically achieved in this time and work towards things that are a priority.
Monica Davidson was ultimately a very engaging, interesting and knowledgeable teacher. Her advice was very practical and it came from a great depth of experience in a number of different arenas (she is a working mum, professional speaker, published author and a filmmaker, among other things). We can highly recommend this course for anyone wanting to learn about goal-setting because her approach is very easy-to-follow and implement.
For those running businesses in NSW they can get in touch with Creative + Business and receive four hours of free coaching through a program administered by the NSW Department of Industry. Businesses in other Australian states and countries can access this service for a fee. For more information about this service please refer to the Creative + Business website at: http://www.creativeplusbusiness.com/
Vivid Ideas continues until June 17. For more information and tickets please visit: https://www.vividsydney.com/ideas