Category: Goals

Wearing Lots of Hats

pictures handmade quilts

What hats are you wearing today?  I recently talked to Candy Glendening, of Candied Fabrics.  Candy had some excellent insight as to the multiple roles the modern day creative entrepreneur must assume.  Sometimes we find ourselves playing the part of a designer, other times authors, and still yet, artists, bloggers, crafters, teachers, seamstresses, etc. etc. etc. and often along with all this we are mothers and wives.

Why do we do this, Candy and I joked?

It seems that maybe we have to.  It’s something that is within us.  It’s in our blood –we must create.  Candy and I both feel strongly about this.  She would even go so far as to say we should “make things just for the sake of making –that’s how our work grows and evolves”.

Candy Glendening Mod House OrnamentsAfter I got off the phone with Candy, I remembered feeling assured that what I was doing with The Artists’ House was the right thing to do.  You see, I feel people should keep their dreams as the solid foundation of their lives, but often you do need to learn to wear each of those hats to be able to build upon those dreams Candy reminded me.  Candy says, “Although I have many goals in my life, one of my main goals is to continue to grow, develop and evolve as an artist.”  I find that with the busyness of life, we often start to loose our dreams, and I believe that if you are not focused, the chaos of life can obscure what it is you were looking for.

Candy Glendening Messenger BagSo, in conclusion, have your goals in mind, and always be working towards them, but do realize that there are often other roles that you will have to take on to be able to reach those goals.  Don’t let those other hats you must wear sidetrack you, but rather use them to your advantage.  Let those parts of your life connect you to your work and help make it better.  Find how to connect all parts of your everyday life into your goals.  It’s not easy, but if you can do this, I believe you can find success in what you do.

Thanks Candy, for helping me come to this conclusion.

Do you know Candy?  If you don’t, you should.  Candy as a person is amazing, as is her art and her blog.  You can find Candy online through her website Candied Fabrics, facebook page, and on twitter.  Along with that, Candy does a great “Ask Candy” column on A La Mode Stuff.  Also, recently Candy did a great guest post on Scoutie Girl titled “One little house at a time: finding your art, getting published, and going live!” Check it out!

The Honeymoon Stage of Starting a Business

When my husband and I first got married, I learned an important lesson very early on –my husband was not a mind reader.  If I wanted or needed something, I had to ask for it.  Overnight my marriage changed, and my husband is now the most supportive person I’ve ever known.  My morning proof –breakfast in bed.

I’ve come to realize that just like the honeymoon stage of a marriage, when we are in the honeymoon stage of starting a business, we do and think naive things.

A few weeks ago, when I was looking over the strides I made in the first 6 months of my business, and mapping out what I hopped to accomplish in 2011, I concluded that maybe this is the piece of the puzzle that’s missing.  My business will grow much faster if I ask more people to support my work and me.  No more sitting around with the mentality, “if I build it, they will come”.

In 2011, I will help my business grow by asking:

  • Would you like to publish my quilt in your magazine?
  • Would you like to do wholesale with me?
  • Would you consider me to be an artist in your fine art show?
  • May I do a guest post on your blog?
  • Would you offer me some advice?

My moment for this week came the other day when I emailed someone I really admire, and asked her for some help, some mentoring, some advise, and as busy as she was, she said, “Yes!”.

Will I always get a “yes”?  Of course not –maybe that’s how my business is different from my marriage, haha.  Yet, if I don’t start asking more, I fear my business might not grow as fast, or as beautifully as my marriage has.

image credit: PearsonMaron – Handmade Monster Magnets and Miniature Art Sculptures on Etsy

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om [one moment] meet upOM is *one moment* and is a meetup designed to notice & relish a moment in everyday life. The meetup idea was created by Linda at her blog, a la mode stuff.  If you’d like to participate in OM, just click the button and you’ll be taken to Linda’s post explaining it all.

Reaching Your Goals, One Day at a Time

A guest post by April Bowles-Olin of Blacksburg Belle.
 Honeycomb Lace DAY PLANNER(Picture from Oh Pangaea Books on Etsy)

I always have ideas swimming in my head. I think that’s part of the creative mindset–you always have more ideas than you could ever implement. For the past year and a half, I’ve been my own boss for my own business. The first year I struggled with to-do lists, trying to meet unrealistic goals, and putting my ideas into action.

When I read a recent post by Angela on The Artists’ House, I completely related to her overwhelming feeling of wanting to do EVERYTHING. Some days I’d be so overwhelmed by the amount of ideas I had that I wouldn’t get anything done. At the end of the day, I’d be so frustrated with myself, feeling guilty about my lack of production, and wonder what I was doing wrong. I’m not an unmotivated person. I’m pretty much the opposite. If I need to work 12 hours in a day, I’ll do it without complaining. So, why wasn’t I reaching my business goals?

I knew that I needed to figure out a system to set realistic, measurable goals and break them down into specific tasks. I’ve tried a lot of organizational systems and planners. I’ve read books, magazine articles, and blog posts about being more productive and organizing my life.

Finally, I figured out a system that worked, so when I read Angela’s post, I asked her if I could share my system of setting and achieving goals with her and her readers. I’ve been using this system for about six months, and it has changed the way I structure my time and my ability to actually achieve the goals that I set for myself. But, this system is also super simple, so anybody can do it.

4 Steps to Reaching Your Long-Term Goals

1. Write down 3 to 5 long-term goals. These are goals that could take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple years to reach. I’ve found that if I list more than 5 long-term goals things get really scattered when I’m trying to plan out my weekly goals and daily tasks. Once you’ve reached one of your long-term goals, you can replace it with another one.

You must be able to measure to measure these goals. One of the errors I made early on was making generalized goals such as increasing sales or applying to craft shows. To make these goals measurable, I changed them to making 50 sales in one month and applying to 12 craft shows for the next year. When you make them measurable, you can check them off once you’ve reached them–which is always fun! Check out Angela’s post on S.M.A.R.T. goals for an in depth guide on setting attainable goals. If you’ve never heard of smart goals, it’s a must read.

2. Break down each long-term goal into specific tasks that will help you reach those goals. For the craft shows, I’d include: making a list of all the craft shows in my area, narrowing down that list to 12 shows, compiling a list of requirements for those craft shows, getting pictures developed to include in the applications, filling out each application, and sending in each application. Put this list of goals with the specific tasks on your desk/at your work station.

3. On Sunday nights, review your long-term goals and set realistic weekly goals that will help you reach your long-term goals. This takes me about 10 minutes on Sunday evening, and it prepares me for the week. At this point, I’m pretty aware of how much I can do in one week, and I don’t schedule more than I know I can complete–but I always push myself to be really productive. When I’m setting these goals, I also remember that I have other things that I do on a daily basis such as blog posts, listing new items on Etsy, and cleaning. For one week, I might give myself the task of making a list of all the craft shows in my area and narrowing down those to 12 for the next year.

4. Each evening make a list of no more than six tasks to complete the next day. When your to-do list looks like it’ll take you 48 hours to complete without sleeping, eating, or spending time with your family, you’ll become overwhelmed. Instead, make a realistic to-do list for the next day. I have a planner that has six lines for each day, so I put one task on each line. Some days, I only list 3 tasks, because I know those tasks are going to take a lot of time. Remember, you want to be realistic. I always include my cleaning tasks on this list, because that consumes a good 45 minutes out of my day. If you have personal tasks {such as picking up the dry cleaning or grocery shopping} for the day, include them as well.

Start with your weekly goal list when you’re determining tasks for the day. This will help you to stay focused.

Here’s the major rule about this step: each task must be a task–not a project. For instance, you can’t list design a new jewelry line as one of your daily tasks, but you could list sketching a new ring design as one of your tasks.

Extra Tips to Making This Work For You

Start with the task that requires lots of concentration, because you’re fresh when you start your work day. Whenever I have writing to do, I always start with it, because if I leave it until the afternoon, the words become jumbled–sometimes resembling another language. In the afternoon I do things that require less effort such as listing new items online.

If you finish your tasks early, you can either continue working or stop for the day. Some days, I finish my to-do list by the early afternoon, well before dinner. I love what I do, so I usually want to keep working. At that point, I’ll make my to-do list for the next day and then I’ll work on a project that doesn’t feel like work. I might work in my art journal, make some new jewelry, or start a new mixed media art piece. This is when I can be the most creative, because I’m not thinking about other things that need to get done.

Don’t knock it before you try it. I’ve shared this system with people who run their own businesses, and some have told me that they couldn’t possibly limit their tasks to only 6 per day. They wouldn’t get enough done. That’s what I thought at first, but I actually get more done this way. Why? Because, I have a specific plan for the day, and there’s no time wasted thinking about what I should do next. When I finish something, I move on to the next thing. Also, I get so much more time doing what I love the most: creating. And that’s really what it’s all about. My mind is completely clear when I’m creating, because I’m not worrying about the other crap I have to do–it’s done! This allows me to fully concentrate on my art or jewelry.

You might already have a system that works for you, and if you do, I don’t suggest you change to mine. I just wanted to offer an alternative for people who feel stuck–like I used to feel.

April Bowles-Olin works with creative women to lead more fulfilling lives while they make money doing it. She also attempts to add a little prettiness to the world with her art and jewelry. You can learn more about her at Blacksburg Belle or follow her on twitter @blacksburgbelle.

Be Realistic About Your Success

Yesterday was just what I needed –a day of rest, a day spent with my husband and daughter, a day to clear my mind and refocus my plans, and a day to be realistic about my success.

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Lately I’ve been struggling with direction.  My spirit is so ambitious that often I want to do everything, all the time.  Every idea that pops into my head, I think yeah, I should do that too.  I’ve always been this way, even as a child.

More importantly though, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that being realistic about your desired success is just as important.  Often if I’m not realistic about my goals and ambitions, I feel disheartened when I do not accomplish what it is I have set out for myself to do.  What?  I can’t clean the entire house, can those 10 quarts of tomatoes, take care of my crazy, into-everything daughter, and finish an entire quilt in one day.  Well why not?

Last night, after spending a beautiful day at the zoo, once Monet was asleep and the house was finally picked up, my husband sat down with me and helped me to finish my S.M.A.R.T. Goals. By getting my husband involved, I was basically assigning him two roles.  One, he was responsible for making sure my goals were both realistic, plus a bit risky.  And two, he in now responsible for holding me accountable to my goals, along with being my cheerleader along the way.

Here are a few of the S.M.A.R.T. Goals I set.

  • Bring a line of textiles and sewing patterns, designed by me of course, to an International Quilt Market before the end of 2012.
  • Be accepted and sell at 2 major Fine Art Festivals and 5 craft fairs/street markets before October 2011.
  • Before October 2011, get publicity from 6 media sources including blogs, magazines, and newspapers.

And because these goal are such big ones, they are accompanied by numerous sub-goals.  Here are just a few sub-goals that accompany my first major goal…

  • Learn Illustrator by taking a class before the end of year 2010.
  • Attend the 2011 International Quilt Market in Salt Lake City as a visitor.
  • Doodle with my daughter on a weekly basis.
  • Continue to sell patterns on-line and to local quilt shops.

Check out this great resource, a “goal planner sheet”.  It can help you break your larger goals into sub-goals–a great way to track your progress along the way.

Well, I really should be going.  I have a big list of goals to accomplish and a daughter to take care of.

How are your goals coming along?

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

“Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal.”  -Elbert Hubbard

t.v. image with vinyl letters

Design Divas Vinyl Lettering and Wall Art on Etsy

Do you remember my homework assignment —set some goals and organize a plan. Well I’ve been thinking a lot about that these past few days, while chasing my daughter around the house, and I’ve come to the realization that it’s easy to “set goals”.  People are always talking about their goals.  But if you aren’t setting “S.M.A.R.T. goals“, if you aren’t breaking bigger goals into smaller steps, if you aren’t taking your goals seriously and checking in on a regular basis, well then, why set goals at all?

In the past, as a teacher on the first day of school, I would always set “S.M.A.R.T. goals” with my students each year after reading “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss.  A S.M.A.R.T. goal” is this:

S = Specific – Don’t just decide vaguely what it is you’re going to do.  Rather, be specific and include the who, what, when, and where.

M = Measurable – If you can’t measure a goal, how do you know when you’ve reached it?  Vague words like “good” and “awesome” are examples of words I had to teach my students to stay away from.  Rather, I encouraged them to use a measurable number.  Instead of saying, “I’m going to be a good math student this year” a student should say, “I will have a math score of 92% or higher at the end of the quarter”.  See the difference?

A = Attainable or Achievable – An important step  to consider when trying to achieve your goals is all the smaller steps and benchmarks that your larger goal breaks down into.  By breaking your goals down into smaller goals, you can slowly step towards the bigger goal, as well as track your progress along the way.

Check out this great resource, a “goal planner sheet” to help you track your progress along the way to achieving your goals.

R = Realistic – Personally I like to add “Plus a Little Risky” to this one.  It’s important to to set yourself up for success, yet at the same time challenge yourself beyond what you think you can do.  “Realistically” I can’t make $100,000 this year considering I’m the primary care taker for a child who only takes a 90 minute nap on a good day.  Yet at the same time, if I don’t set goals that are a little risky, I might never be challenged to stretch myself.  Be careful to find balance between the “realistic” and the “risky”.

T = Timed – And lastly, make sure you clarify when you will reach your goals, otherwise you might never reach them.

Today’s assignment, sit down and think about one thing you hope to accomplish in the future.

Do you think that it’s important to share your goals with others as a means of accountability.  I do!  And that’s why I’ll be sharing a few of my goals with you next week.

Won’t you share one of your S.M.A.R.T. goals with me?

Note:  Tara Gentile from Scoutie Girl just launched a FREE 8 part mini e-course on creating action out of inspiration – moving you past procrastination & into accomplishment.  Guess what her first lesson was on?  That’s right –goals!
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