setting goals

Free Download // 2016 Goal Planning Worksheet

If you've been a member of this community for a while then it will come as no surprise that I find joy in two things:

  • empowering others to market and grow their businesses with confidence
  • sharing my knowledge and experience freely and as often as possible.

Well today I'm happy to team up with Zoe Strawbridge from Gorjo Designs to help give you a little gift that comes from the heart and that might back one of the most important business topics a bit less taxing: goal setting.

Setting goals seems to fall into one of 2 camps: you either love it or you hate it. Personally I'm a huge fan of knowing where I'm going and settling milestones to help me get there but I also understand that for many creative minds this framework can seem intimidating or stifling - but it doesn't have to be.  On of my favourite quotes that always springs to mind when talking about goals is this:

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.” Yogi Berra

Goal setting doesn’t have to be a stressful process so don’t fear. When starting out keep it simple and when possible give this process the attention it deserves. Stop multitasking, answering emails, etc. Put your phone on silence, close the Pinterest tab (yes I'm guilty of this too!) and have a bit of fun with it!

To get you started on this process Zoe and I have created a FREE worksheet which you can grab today to help start your goal setting process get underway. Enjoy this beautiful download and I'd love to hear how your planning is going - so don't be shy!

Day To Day Of The Dream Job

By Abbey Henderson

I left my day job in 2010 to pursue my dream of being a full-time photographer. The learning curve was steep. The first few years brought with them overwhelming situations, beginner's mistakes, sleepless nights, comparison to others, and a constant feeling of inadequacy. The glitz faded quickly when I realized owning my own photography company was about 20% photography and 80% office work. 

Fast forward five years and I've settled into my industry a bit. I wouldn't trade my first years for anything. I don't ever want to go back to them, but I'm grateful for all they taught me. But, what if I had to go back? I think about that question often. There is so much I've gleaned through the school of hard knocks...truths that I wish someone would have just told me at the beginning. So, if you are on that starting line of pursuing your passion as a career, I think these 7 simple habits are vital to both the morale and health of you and the day-to-day of your dream job.

1. Develop a creative community.

You cannot do it alone! I cannot stress this truth enough, especially if you are a one woman (or man) business. There is so much value that comes from investing in a community of like minded creatives. I spent the first two years in business afraid to reach out to other photographers solely because they were my competition. The truth is there is more than enough business to go around.  Some of my richest friendships in the industry are also my closest competitors. We sharpen each other and encourage one another regularly. Sometimes I wonder what pitfalls could have been avoided had I invested in fostering those relationships sooner.

2. Prepare.

More than likely you will not stumble upon success. You will build it, one step at a time, one day at a time. Evaluate where you want to go and start preparing. Make a road map for getting to your destination. A vision without a plan is simply a dream. Dreams become reality when we are willing to put pen to paper and make them happen. It takes brainstorming, commitment and preparation. Oprah Winfrey said "I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity." Start building momentum, gain experience, invest in your education, and keep the energy going. When the wave of opportunity comes you will be ready to ride.

3. Be Wise, Save.

When we were newlyweds my husband and I bought an owl shaped piggy bank at a thrift store. At the base of the ceramic owl's feet are the words Be Wise Save. It does not get more straightforward than that.  And everyday that owl stares me right in the eyes, reminding me to steward the finances well. Finances can be one of the most stressful parts of stepping out on your own in business. As you start generating revenue, save for the dry seasons. Keep a reserve for when you hit a slow patch. Our company is approaching our slow season that lasts about two and half months. It's a lot easier to face the bleak times when we've prepared for them financially.

4. Give Back Intentionally.

I just wrapped up a meeting with a non-profit I'm photographing for this fall. We are planning some really exciting stuff; and I'm doing it for FREE. Why? Because I'm passionate about their cause, and I love that I can use my talents to invest in their work. Early in business I would jump at any opportunity to do free work for any non-profit that came knocking on my door. I ended up overworked, uninspired and bitter towards the projects I was doing for free. I wasn't passionate about most of them; I was committing to them out of fear; fear that if I said "no" I would miss out on a connection or opportunity to collaborate with someone else I would meet in the process. I learned the hard way that its vital to set boundaries and know your limits in terms of what you can do for free. By intentionally choosing the causes I contribute to, I work better and produce higher quality content for their mission.

5. Move Forward.

Don't be paralyzed by perfection. Perfection is a trap. Perfection is the enemy of great.  Are you launching a new site? Don't wait for perfect. Get it up and running and keep moving forward. Hold yourself to a standard of great not perfect. When we wait on perfect, we will always find something else that needs to be fixed or changed. 

6. Rest.

Make room for rest. The best way to avoid burnout is to rest regularly. I know that's hard to tell to an entrepreneur just starting out. Work is always on your brain. But rest is crucial to the longevity of your company and creativity. Take a day or two a week to focus on anything but work. Do things for fun, turn off the computer, have good conversations without your phone on the table, breathe fresh air. Life is richer when you discipline yourself to rest.

7. You can do this! 

You can. You are capable of more than you think...that's all there is to it! 

Abbey discovered her passion for light and photographs as a child, and was introduced to film photography in the dark room of her high school art class. She’s been photographing weddings since 2010 and is co-founder of Loft Photography. The West Wing, Pride & Prejudice, and a glass of red wine paired with deep conversation are a few of her favorite things. She believes there is no such thing as having too many leather bags, or pearl earrings. Beautiful light, quiet mornings, river days and plane tickets to anywhere make her happy! Follow her on  Loft's Instagram and her personal Instagram

Photo Credit: Loft Photography


Setting Goals & Embracing The Fog


By Shanna Skidmore

As 2015 kicks off, most people feel the urge to make plans for the future. Some make resolutions, others set goals, while others sit paralyzed with inaction. As a business development consultant, I often hear clients express the stress and anxiety they feel due to uncertainty and lack of clarity: “the fog”. It’s the moment we speak a goal out loud that a sense of fear and doubt rush in along with that dreaded question, “how”? I cannot imagine the countless dreams that have faded due to that one word question. How? 

Many of you have probably heard of the long-distance swimmer, Florence Chadwick. In 1952, Florence set out to swim the English Channel from the Catalina Island to the California coast. That particular day the fog was so thick she could hardly see the boats around her. After 15 hours of swimming she quit, just one-mile from her goal. She is later quoted saying, “I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen the land I might have made it.” 

It doesn’t take much time around me to know I am a HUGE proponent of setting goals. I believe in the power of written goals so strongly I developed an entire retreat designed specifically as a place for creative businesswomen to come, gain clarity, DREAM BIGGER dreams, and set actionable goals for the upcoming year - BLUEPRINT RETREAT! In order to accomplish a goal, we first need to identify the goal, and secondly we have to stay focused on the goal. It is when we lose sight of the goal that the distance seems unachievable. In the case of Florence Chadwick, it is not the challenge of the swim that caused her to fail, it was the fog which caused her lose sight of her goal. 

Most of us wish for a fogless journey. Hower, the reality is that maintaining sight of the ultimate goal doesn’t mean there won’t be unclear spots along the way. It doesn’t even mean the majority of the journey will be without fog. We have to learn to EMBRACE the fog. All we really need to know is our very next step. What can we do today to move closer to our ultimate goal? Learning to break goals down into bite-size, actionable tasks makes them manageable and achievable. 

Over Thanksgiving I was spending time at my Grandmother’s house. She had just returned from an unexpected visit to the hospital; a place she has visited frequently this year while battling heart issues. As we talked about her journey with her health this year she said, “You know, I think God only allows us to see small pieces of our lives at a time because if we could see everything that we would go through in our lifetime we would feel it was impossible to overcome.” Hmm.. Isn’t this so true? 

When the good and the bad come in small pieces we are forced to take it one thing at a time. In some ways the fog is protecting us. Just like so many of you I wishfully long to know the outcomes and to see the entire path.  As we sit down to dream up goals for next year, let’s choose to identify the ultimate goal and then focus on the bite-size pieces; embracing the fog as it forces us to focus only on our next step. One day we will look back and realize we have achieved the impossible, one step at a time! 

Keep dreaming big dreams,

For more information on Shanna’s annual planning retreat or her consulting services, please visit her beautiful website,, or find her on Instagram or Facebook


Images by Shanna Skidmore