With the year drawing to a close, and the new one just around the corner, it is at this time many of us reflect on what has happened and what we plan to achieve. Year after year it is the same story. We make a couple resolutions, we give it a good go for a few weeks, and then we fall back into some old routines that keep us from making progress. Here’s how I like to tackle my resolutions and keep myself on track each and every year!
Over the past couple years I have become a pretty busy guy. My photography business has been steadily growing, I have been writing articles for Fstoppers nearly 2 years now, I help run a few businesses as a silent partner, and recently I opened my own rental studio. It can be a hefty workload at times and yet for the New Year I plan to add even more diversity and dimension to my business. I will be adding a workshop component and extending my services into the video realm, I will be growing my production team by adding a few new members, and of course adding some new clients to my roster.
None of what has happened to date, or what I plan to happen in the future, would be possible without some careful planning and strategizing with each New Year. Here are 5 steps that I follow in order to keep myself on track for success!
The first step towards planning your new year is to do a thorough review of the year which has passed. Take a good hard look at everything you did. Look over your sales and your communications with clients. Can you improve the way you interact with clients? Are there any common questions that have come up which you can prevent from being asked? Are you following up correctly with your clients? What is your response rate? Take a peek at where and how your time has been spent. Are there any tasks you can streamline? What is your ratio of shooting versus finding work?
When you start going over all these questions don’t just focus on all the areas that need improvement. Make two separate lists, one containing your short falls and the other your accomplishments. Part of truly improving and perfecting your workflow isn’t simply cutting yourself down but rather building yourself up by recognizing what you are doing well.
Find the things you did achieve this year and apply their individual success stories to the year ahead!
Once you’ve analyzed and reviewed your previous year you will inevitably come up with a set of goals for improving your next year. Whatever you choose to tackle, it is not enough to simply say what you hope to achieve and then blindly start the year hoping things work out. Just like any business out there you must be thorough in your approach.
More than anything businesses love analytics. If you’ve ever had the chance to work in an office setting you know all too well how common meetings are. A meeting is never complete without numbers, spreadsheets, and disheveled pencil pushers putting together presentations. In the case of your photography business you, my dear friend, are the pencil pusher. You are responsible for creating the spreadsheets filled with numbers that give everyone, aka yourself, an idea of how your business is progressing. So learn to love these analytics!
Whatever your goals are for the New Year, find a way to measure and track them. There is a vast array of apps these days that can help you track and analyze just about any activity, and if you don’t find one that works, there is always the old pen and paper method.
You track your expenses, you track your web traffic, and you probably track that person you secretly have a crush on, so why not do the same with your goals. It is easy once you get a routine down and will prove to be the single most important step to making any real progress.
We are all human; big lumps of flesh that hold together an emotional roller coaster. Some days we can tackle anything and other days we can’t find any motivation, much like our car keys, which conveniently makes for a good excuse to stay in and do nothing at all. It is days like this where having a friend to pull you through the hard times will keep you on track.
Find someone reliable who you can call on days like this to offer you a few words of moral support. Better yet, find someone who has similar goals, and team up to tackle them together. You won’t have much of an excuse when they show up at your door step ready to get the day started!
You wouldn’t turn away a friend, would you?
One of the biggest problems we have when setting goals is that we tend to make them just a bit unrealistic. Optimism is great, but think about what you can ACTUALLY fit into a year. I may want to achieve my dream body but that will likely take years. Not to say that it’s a bad goal, but instead of making the end result my ambition and feeling disappointed when I under achieve, realize it will take years and plan for a real measurable result.
It is ok to have a slow start, and it is ok for your goals to take time to transpire. As long as you know what to expect and have a healthy time frame you will be more inclined to stick to those goals.
Someone once said that without risk, there is no reward. I like to think that without rewards there is no progress.
When you sit down and make your resolutions and goals for next year, don’t forget to implement some rewards for yourself along the way in a variety of increments to foster a sense of accomplishment. It’s not enough to say good job and expect that the next target will be met with eagerness. If, however, you condition yourself to truly feel rewarded at a milestone you will be more likely to pursue the next one. So don’t hold out and spoil yourself a bit. It’s for the greater good!
Have a great and successful New Year all!