More Details about my Goals

by Lisa Call on March 31, 2006

in Goals and Intention

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.


Charmaine March 31, 2006 at 9:13 am

Wow. That’s a pretty impressive system. You are quite an amazing artist to be so talented AND organized!

I find the hardest thing about setting goals is that it’s always to hard to determine when they’ve actually been accomplished, if that makes sense. I guess it speaks to the need, as in marketing on any level, to set realistic and specific goals.

Thanks for sharing.

Frances March 31, 2006 at 2:41 pm

thanks for sharing this Lisa, I am just finishing taking Alyson’s Choosing the Right Career Path and there has been some useful info in it, I am a bit of a lists person too but not as much as you although I have noticed I am increasing the amount of list keeping I do, it is very satisfying ticking off work done and does help clarify, thanks

Mary Manahan April 1, 2006 at 5:35 am

Lisa, you could probably take over the world with your organizational skills.

Deborah April 1, 2006 at 2:01 pm

This line cracked me up. “I use an Excel spreadsheet to list out my goals because I like the grid it provides.” I just think this is funny, because, of course, your art is all about the grid! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m impressed by how much your professional life influences your art life. I think I miss out on this a bit since I’m a stay at home mom. I’m sure that has influences on my art, as well. Just different from yours. I’m very very very eager to hear about the Action Circles. Please let us know how that goes.

Alyson B. Stanfield April 1, 2006 at 7:40 pm

Good heavens! I feel like you have left me in the dust with your goal-setting and goal reviews. The Excel spreadsheet cracks me up. I just can’t imagine it, but, then again, I’m not great with Excel. I think you should post it for us to see. :)

Pam RuBert April 3, 2006 at 3:23 am

Great idea to use Excel. I love Excel for all kinds of things, it’s so flexible for organizing, but never thought to use it for a goal sheet. I’ve been thinking about these list of goals, I don’t like making extensive lists, but am considering whether it would be worth trying.

Elle April 4, 2006 at 8:55 pm

That’s a great idea! I keep a Word list of goals, with a table for submissions. It helps keep me on track, lol.

Peggy P Scott June 6, 2006 at 6:06 am

Hi there,

Thanks for your Excel info-I was just considering using Excel for my inventory of prints because it’s so easy to lose track. Thanks for sharing other ways to use it. I would love to see it if you would post it. Please let us know if you do!


Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: