Now that the first month of 2012 is in the books, how are you coming with your New Years Business Resolutions? Every year we all say we are going to do it: Exercise more, get organized, spend more time with family, etc. Every year we say this is what we are going to do, and for most of us every year it does not happen. In fact statistics say by this time in the year most of us have already petered out and given up on our Resolutions. Why? Well a couple of thoughts; habitual things such as changing a diet or quitting smoking are very difficult. Once the mind locks in on a habit it takes time and real work to change said habit. Other resolutions, in my opinion, fall by the wayside because we feel they are of little consequence. Deep inside, however, we all know that is rarely actually the case. In reality almost everything we do is of consequence either immediate or delayed. In the short-term it may not matter if we have an extra cookie here or there but I think we all know what happens when we have that extra cookie too often. And then compound that all-too-frequent extra cookie over many years and one can be looking at some long-term health issues later in life.

With regards to our careers it is easy to make a list of platitudes of “I want this or that” but the reason I feel people fall off the wagon is often because this that does not end up happening. The consequence of not actualizing one’s career goals become clear pretty immediately in the form of you do not work. When it comes to work, instead of Resolutions which too often are just empty, non thought out statements, I focus on my Goals for a given year and developing an action plan for each goal. It is no lie or exaggeration to say that my career completely changed when I got in the practice of being serious about setting my Goals. Here is my approach and what helped me.

1 ) Try to Think Realistically
This does not mean do not dream big, but it means think in terms of how you are going to make those big dreams happen. Say your dream is to work in high fashion. OK, groovy so your first Action might be to move to New York because that is the high fashion hub of the United States. Oh. You live in Ohio and you are a mom of 3 young children? Alright going to NYC is not an option which means working in high fashion might not be a realistic goal for you at this point in your life. Moving to NYC might become a possibility as your children get older, but in the meantime what can you do now? You can think about what work exists in your market and make a plan of action how to get those jobs. Vogue might not be shooting in Ohio, but a *lot* of fashion catalog is. Keeping your thoughts in line with your reality will help you create goals that can come true.

2 ) Write It Down!
In the world of organizing methodologies (yes, there are organizing methodologies) one of the most popular is Dave Allen’s “Getting Things Done”. I have no doubt it is a very effective approach to organization and goals setting but it is also notoriously elaborate. A former blog by the name of Small List came up with an alternate method called “WSD” for Write Stuff Down (family friendly title, you can think of what else S might stand for) which simply breaks down to;

– Find something to write on.
– Find something to write with.
– Finally, and most importantly, WRITE STUFF DOWN.

Actually physically writing down goals is important. It takes an idea out of the theoretical and into the practical. Everything sounds like a great idea in one’s head but out in the harsh light of day you can start to assess whether it is really something worth pursuing. Also if you decide that it is worth pursuing, writing a goal down will help you start to organize your thoughts on how to get it done.

3 ) Action!
This is where the rubber really hits the road. I meet a lot of aspiring makeup artists who have lots of goals but ask them how they are going to do it and the blank stares commence. This is where the necessary tedium of research and planning come into play. Let’s say you have your eye towards working on music videos. In order to do this you will need to find out what makeup artists are keying music videos these days and what agency that artist is with you so can approach them about assisting/being on the makeup team for the videos that artist works on. It would also probably be best if you know who the happening music video directors and producers are. From there your Action is to contact these various people to let them know you are available for work. (SIDE NOTE: And do not give me that “I contacted this person *ONCE* and I didn’t hear back excuse. One time is not an Action. There have been photographers I’ve pursued for over a year to get them to meet with me. πŸ˜‰ )

Whatever your Goal is, you need to follow it up with a Plan of Action of how you are going to make it happen. And you need to Write Stuff Down so you can stay organized and keep track of what you’ve done and what you need to do next.

4) Stay Accountable
Accountability is my last and final step of keeping myself on track. Without being accountable for your goals it is just too easy to fall back into the wrong thinking that there is no consequence. My primary method of accountability is that I have bills to pay and if I cannot pay said bills because I did not work enough and earn enough money then I have failed, simple as that. Trust me that has not come up for me in a looooooooong time. A roof over one’s head and running water and functioning lights are powerful motivators. Also, at this phase of my career where myself and all of my artists friends are full-time working artists peer pressure is also a good marker of accountability. I want all of my friends to do well in their careers, but I want to do well also. If I have a friend blowing up while I’m sitting around not working then I know I have not been on-point about handling my business. Aside from those external markers, I also remind myself about my goals. Constantly. I have alarms set up on my phone, computer, iPad, etc. I set deadlines – which actually could be its own bullet point – and remind myself constantly and make myself keep them. I, personally, do not necessarily do this but I do know a lot of people find it helpful to tell someone else about their goals so that the other person can help keep you on track. My only warning about this would be that it is important that you tell the right people if you go this route. You do not want to share your goals with Negative Nelly and Downer Debbie who will only feed you garbage about how your goals are unattainable and you should just stick to your office job.

5 ) Do It!
If you are an aspiring or emerging makeup artist your absolute number one first and foremost goal should be to become a full-time working makeup artist. Too many people never fully develop a career because they vacillate between doing makeup and their “safety job”. There comes a time when you need to cut that off and just take the plunge, otherwise being a makeup artist becomes a perpetual side-hustle. And most of the perpetual side-hustle people cannot move past that career phase because they fail to plan and architect their career paths. Can you expect to be a full time wage earning makeup artist within the first few months that you start doing makeup? Maybe but it’s unlikely. After your first year? It may be time to start thinking about taking the plunge. After two years? Come on now. Do you want to be a makeup artist or what? No one can tell anyone how to live or what they need in their lives so I will not presume to do so. I can say, however, that there are no guarantees, assurances, “atta girls” etc, in being a freelancer. Once you have your goals set and your action plan developed, you will have to “walk by faith, not by sight” and take a step off the ledge and make it happen. Trust me this continues as we progress along our careers. If you are already a full time artist but you are largely doing weddings when you want to be doing media work, you have to define your goals, set a plan of action and go out and do it. If you are working in media and you want to sign to a high end agency (which is me right now) then you will need to research research research, define your career goals of what you want out of an agency relationship, make a plan of action and go out and do it. At no point in your career – at least in my experience of my own career and those of successful artists I have seen around me – does this process stop. I have spoken to top, top artists who still have goals and aspirations. Those goals obviously differ from yours and mine, but even at the top these artists are still challenging themselves to reach new heights.

At the end of every year I take time out to plan what it is that I want to accomplish in the New Year and how I am going to accomplish it. In doing this for the past several years I have gone from working minor jobs for small companies and doing headshots and the like to working pretty major gigs for big time companies shot by name photographers, and I only plan to keep going up from here. Even if you have not done one darn thing towards your goals, the year is still young. Take the bull by the horns and make it happen in 2012. If the world really does end you can say you went out with a bang!

EDIT: Oh I meant to link this: Crystal Wright gave this great talk about goals setting during one of her “Packaging Your Portfolio” workshops. Click here to see the video.

(no I do not actually think the world is going to end this year. lol)

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