It’s hard to believe, but a new year is just around the corner. 2017! Are you already thinking about how things are going to be different next year? Have you been thinking about where you want to live in the art universe, and are you trying to figure out how you’re going to take your art career to that place in the twelve months ahead and beyond? What is the vision you have for yourself, and how will you get there?
Although we often don’t realize it, we are faced with this kind of goal setting/planning situation almost every day as we manage our way through life. At work and at home, we’re constantly making little plans for accomplishing little goals. We intuitively rely on a wonderful skill that we all possess called “strategic planning.” So how can we apply strategy to achieving our larger goals and advancing in our art careers? Let’s walk through a little metaphor to see how it works.
When I teach my workshops, I like to explain strategic planning by using an example almost everyone is familiar with. At some point or another, we’ve all realized that we need to get in better shape, to improve our physical fitness. We ask ourselves, in general, how are we going to make that happen? That’s strategic thinking—the general “how” we’re going to accomplish a goal. Most of the time, people use two strategies to improve their health: diet and exercise. That’s a good start, but when we think it through, strategies alone are usually too vague to explain exactly what we’re going to do to achieve a goal, so we have to get more specific.
This is where tactics come in. Tactics are the “what” of strategic planning. Let’s take the one strategy of exercise. You have a ton of options, different ways to exercise, right? You could do yoga, for example, or start golfing, or take jiu jitsu lessons. You could join a gym, or hire a personal trainer, or buy one of those infomercial DVDs.
But let me ask you this: Do you have to do all of these tactics to achieve your goal? No! Of course not! You would pick and choose the tactics that work best for you! So maybe, for example, you can’t afford to join a gym so you decide to go for a daily walk instead. Then again, maybe you live someplace really cold, so working out indoors makes more sense. There are all kinds of factors that influence your choice of the perfect set of tactics for your situation.
Okay, so now let’s say you’ve decided you’re going to go Paleo and start walking. In other words, you’ve landed on your strategies and your tactics. But when you get up tomorrow morning, do you know exactly what you’re going to do? Do you have your Paleo recipes handy, and the right ingredients in the fridge? Do you have good walking shoes in your closet, and did you set aside a time to walk? Probably not, so a little more planning is in order. Even with strategies and tactics in place, you still need a daily action plan—a very specific plan of what to do and when.
I know that for some of you, this all feels way too left-brained and analytical, but for others it makes sense. Like it or not, this level of planning is what leads to success in achieving any goal… including marketing your art. Please don’t be put off by this! As I said, you may not be aware of this, but you’re practicing the art of strategic thinking all day every day, and you really can learn to apply this to your art career, too!
Now that I’ve planted the seeds of this concept in your mind, I’m going to let you sit with this for a while to see what kind of strategic plan you come up with on your own. What’s your goal? How will you get there in general? What specific things will you do to lead to success? And in a couple of weeks, I’ll be rolling out my new program that offers one possible strategic plan you might want to use. It works for all artists at all different places in the universe, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, what strategies and tactics are you currently using? What’s on your daily action plan? Let’s connect!