"I just want to clearly state what a goal for success actually is, because I think there’s a big problem people have with understanding: I think there’s a difference between a goal and a wish."*
Powerful words from Brigitte Martin, a speaker with the "success panel" during Forging Communities Symposium.
Brigitte Martin's frank lecture about success was inspiring. I'd like to share a nugget here on ASK Harriete. Brigitte Martin is an organizer, mentor, and leader of Crafthaus. During her 10-minute PowerPoint presentation, Brigitte asked us: "What’s the meaning of success?"
A common problem people have is understanding that there is a difference between a “goal” and a “wish.”
Let’s look at some of the answers artists give when asked what “success“ means to them, or in other words what they want from their lives. Most of them will tell you that they want:
- to be happier,
- to have a better job,
- to have more money,
- to have fewer worries,
- to lose a few pounds,
- to be as successful as so and so - generally speaking.
So what then is a goal?
Quite simply put:
A goal means “to have specific strategies and MEASURABLE objectives.”
Now I know, this sounds so uninspired, so boring, so accountant-like, so not artistic. But bear with me for a minute and let me make clear what measurable goals are and you will see how they can apply to your work and lead to a certain measure of success.
In the business world the saying goes: “If you can’t measure it, you don’t know what you have.”
- cost (on or off budget)
- timeliness/ deadline
To give you a very simple example, setting a clear and measurable goal for success would be:
“By December 31st, I will have photographed all of the artwork that I created this year.”
Not only is this a very practical and useful goal (after all we know from the most recent Professional Development Seminar** that having good photography is absolutely essential) but by putting yourself under a deadline you create a measurable goal (in this case “timeline/deadline”).
Obviously, all kinds of goals can be created regarding quantity, quality, cost, and deadline. When Dec. 31 rolls around and you look at your photos you will realize that you have indeed photographed everything. You then know that you have achieved this particular goal of yours, and the beauty of this one is that it will continue to help you be successful because you now have these images at the ready and can send them out to promote yourself at any time.
Here are some other examples of practical goals that everyone can set. Look at your work as if you were actually running it as a “business.”
Create deadlines for yourself to do the following:
- get serious about bookkeeping, record keeping,
- get serious about your time management (don’t hang out on the internet all day),
- get serious about your photography,
- get serious about your marketing efforts (print and online),
- get serious about your gallery relationships,
- get very serious about the quality of your artwork.
Goal setting works wonderfully as a measure of success because it helps you stay focused in your daily life.
Setting a goal will lead you and direct you toward the place you want to end up.
Write your goals down and keep them handy at your desk or workplace where you can see them every day as a constant reminder.
Thank you to Brigitte Martin for sharing sage words of advice.
*Phrase taken from the impressive Tumblr notes by Tara Brannigan about the "What is Success?" panel here.
Brigitte knows what she is talking about. Prior to starting Crafthaus, she ran two galleries. If you haven't visited Crafthaus, this is a social network for artists and makers in all media. There are online exhibitions, public discussions, blogs, and portfolios of artwork on each profile. All images are approved or disallowed by Brigitte's discerning eye to keep quality high. Join Crafthaus to participate with this community.
Photographer: Nerds behind the Lens, Pittsburgh, PA
Notes: The first four images were taken directly from Brigitte Martin's PowerPoint courtesy of Brigitte Martin.
The Measure of Success measuring cup was my image.
This post was updated on February 16, 2022.