In a time of instant gratification (click to buy, quick shipping, video streaming, etc.), it’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t happen right away. The business isn’t an overnight success, the writing stalls in the middle of the book in progress, the camera collects dust because the photo packages aren’t selling. This frustration can even happen when a person has a lot of ideas, but can’t seem to focus or accomplish any of them. So all the projects and ideas fall by the wayside.

Our desire and expectations for instant gratification has taken the pleasure out of the process. It’s programmed our brains to focus on the end result (“Give it to me now!”) instead of allowing ourselves to take the journey towards the goal.

Plus, there’s life to contend with. We have jobs to go to, families to care for, and everyday life stuff that pops up during the most inconvenient times.

Maybe you made a list of goals at the beginning of the year or maybe you have an old list with goals that never get checked off. Whatever the case, if you’re feeling disheartened it’s important not to beat yourself up or give up on your dreams. Instead, get out that list and take these 5 action steps to power through your photography goals.

an open calendar with a cup of coffee placed on it is viewable from the top down.

1. Set clear goals.

It’s harder to accomplish vague statements like, “I want to build my brand,” or “I want to become a better photographer.” Goals like these don’t provide you with a roadmap to success, and if you don’t have a roadmap, you won’t know where you’re going or how to get there.

Instead, get specific on your goals so you can more easily measure your success. Turn build my brand into run an ad campaign for one month and become a better photographer with take an online course to learn landscape photography techniques.

The more specific you can get with your goals, the easier it will be to make an action plan and move towards those goals.

2. Focus on one big goal at a time.

As many business and goal gurus have said before: “You have to slow down to speed up.”

If you try to do all the things all at once, you’ll get nowhere, or at the very least, find yourself walking in circles wondering, haven’t I been here before?

Slow your roll. Instead of getting overwhelmed by all of your hopes and dreams, pick one big goal you want to accomplish and focus on getting it done before you move on. Write it down, as well as everything you need to do to make it happen. Don’t worry too much about the steps at this stage - just get it all out of your head to make space for organization.

a cup of coffee with the word "begin." etched in it resting on a wooden table with wooden chairs in the background.

3. Use micro movements.

You can use the micro movement technique with big and small goals alike. Micro movements help you break down your goals into manageable tasks, and they can be as small as you need them to be.

Whether you’re a procrastinator, busy business owner, or feeling overwhelmed, setting small goals that move you closer to your big goal can help you get the train rolling. Oftentimes, the hardest part about achieving a goal is getting started. Like a train that’s heavy and slow to start rolling down the tracks, once it’s built up the momentum to go, it’s full steam ahead!

If you need to, break down your goals into hard-to-fail steps like:

  • Research portrait photography tips online (30 minutes)
  • Text friend to set up practice portrait session
  • Put session date and time in planner

It’s as simple as that! Breaking goals down into small chunks makes everything so much more manageable, and once you start ticking off your to-dos, it’ll be hard to stop!

4. Check in with your goal progress.

It’s not enough to think about your goals or even write them down. You have to check in to monitor your progress and make any needed changes. A great way to do this is to assign deadlines to your goals and action steps. Check in every month or quarter or whatever works for you to hold yourself accountable.

If you just leave your goals in some kind of limbo land, chances are they’ll go unaccomplished. You’ve got to make your dreams concrete in order to achieve them. Just as you wouldn’t think your destination to your GPS, you can’t only think about your goals and expect results.

two men sit at a wooden table with papers on it as they talk. They are only visible from the shoulders down.

5. Add accountability.

If holding yourself accountable isn’t enough, call in the troops to help you move forward and get stuff done. Meet up with a photography buddy once a week to check in and share ideas, set up a challenge related to your goals with a group of friends, or join a photography mastermind group for extra support in business-related matters. You could also announce your big goal on social media (with a deadline). Knowing that people will expect to see a result will help you show up and deliver.

Now that you have the tools to power through your photography goals, it’s time to dust off those dreams (and maybe even your camera) and get the photo train moving down the tracks. But keep in mind that you aren’t a failure if you don’t accomplish something or if a project falls flat. Give yourself the kind of graciousness you’d give to a friend and remember that, “There is no failure except in no longer trying.” ~Chris Bradford

Related: Photographer’s Block: 7 Ways to Break Out of a Creative Rut

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