Yesterday I made a comment that I keep my master list of goals in an excel spreadsheet. I got a few questions about how I go about doing this and in the past I promised some people I would write in more detail about my goals, so here is that long over due posting.
I use an Excel spreadsheet to list out my goals because I like the grid it provides. I can easily add columns and rearrange the information in a much more flexible way than with a Word document. I also like the multiple tabs in Excel so I can organize my information by groups (tabs) also. I don’t use any of the numeric calculations provided by the spreadsheet software, just the organizational structure.
The first tab in my goals spreadsheet are my big picture goals. These are things about where I want my career to be in the future. Each goal has a date or timeline associated with it but no details on what it will take to achieve the goal. They are the dream that I’m determined to turn into reality.
From this I have determined there are 3 areas that I need to concentrate on to make it happen: the artwork, marketing materials (website, portfolio, etc), and promotional activities(entering shows, other opportunities to promote my work, etc).
Next I have a tab for each of these 3 areas. At the top of each tab I have written down the things I feel I need for each of these areas to achieve the goals from the big picture list. Everything from the big picture list has to link to items on these sublists and everything on these sublists has to be related to 1 or more of the big picture goals. This is all about making sure my actions will get me to the desired goals and that I don’t get side tracked. Each of these also have a deadline for when I will complete the item.
For each of these big picture items I break it down into smaller steps I feel I need to do to complete the item, with deadlines for each step.
Once a week or every 2 weeks I will sit down with my spreadsheet and figure out my todo list for that week. I break my list down into 3 sections – 1 for art, 1 for materials, 1 for promotion and I try to do work in each area each week. Some weeks focus more on the art (this week for example) but other weeks it might be more about the marketing materials (the week I concentrated on my images) or promotion. The idea is to keep a balance between the activities.
Within a year or 2 the marketing material goals should be mostly met and the only activities in that area will be updating the materials as I move forward. I’m concentrating on bringing these materials up to par at the beginning because I can’t really promote myself until I have the tools to do so.
When I do these weekly lists I often break down some of the steps into even smaller chunks that I can do in an hour or less. I also try very hard not to put things on my list that don’t directly relate back to my big picture goals. I don’t always manage to do this (usually a result of not saying “no” when I should have) but having the lists does help me evaluate if an opportunity fits into my plan.
I came up with this structures for my goals after taking a marketing salon with Alyson Stanfield and then combining it with the structure I use for writing requirements for software projects. We have a very detailed procedure at work (large software company) about how to write requirements. First we have business requirements – the WHY of the project. Next we have user the requirements – the WHAT of the project. Finally we have functional requirements – the HOW of the project. My art goals are structured in very much the same way. The big picture items are the why. Then I have the what – the big items for each category. And finally the how – the detailed steps for each of these items.
We use a tool at work that helps us write and structure our requirements and one of the features it has is “traceability”. Every functional requirement must trace back to a user requirement, which then traces back to a business requirement. So we don’t do things that aren’t essential for the project. In addition every business requirement must trace to 1 or more user requirements, which them must trace down to specific functional requirements. So this ensures that we don’t forget or miss something.
While I can’t do this type of “tracing” of my goals in an Excel spreadsheet I do try to make sure I’m doing something similar – looking back and making sure I’ve covered all my bases and I’m not wasting time on useless stuff.
So now the confession. This spreadsheet is what I would call a “work in progress”. I know what I want it to say and I know how to structure it. I just haven’t yet completed it, a lot of it is in place but it doesn’t have enough detail to really be a solid plan to work on.
But it’s time to get this done so I just signed up for Alyson’s new Art Marketing Action Circles. What a great way to get things on track.