The holidays used to be really overwhelming. They still feel that way on occasion, but we’ve really simplified our holidays (we stopped doing gifts and now travel instead) and now I look forward to the end of the year. January 1 is a blank page, fresh and ready to be written on. I clean out the closets and organize the basement and start new projects. I also like to get started on a fresh set of goals. I like to be pretty specific with my goals, and focus on activities I can do, not necessarily benchmarks to reach (ie, I never set a number of weddings to book, because sometimes even if you’re doing the right things, you have no control over that….instead, I focus on the things that could help to book those weddings).
But before I do that, I reflect on the old goals. At the beginning of 2016, these were the goals I wrote down:
Learn back button focus. If you’re not a photographer, this means nothing to you. If you are…it probably seems like a silly thing to set a goal as, because it took about 3 minutes to set up, and there was virtually no learning curve to it. Easy peasy, done on January 2. It’s always nice to have an easy goal to complete.
- Blog weekly. Though it hasn’t exactly been weekly, I have blogged regularly. In what feels like a very long time ago, I wrote a lot. Like, a lot a lot, and a fair number of people read what I wrote. Then life happened, and I kind of lost my voice for awhile. I started blogging here on our Motionworks site for purely business reasons: SEO and content. Google likes to have lots of words to use to index your site, so I made it a goal to start putting some words on there. Sometimes people even read them and that makes me feel pretty awesome, so I’m counting this as a goal met (and one I will continue).
- Publish a weekly portrait with my film camera. Um, no on this one. It was also maybe not a well thought out goal. I’m not completely sure where I was going with it, other than wanting to use it as another medium to tell the stories of the people I meet. I have paid attention to story, and I’m getting better at talking with people to learn the intricacies of their stories, even when we start as strangers. So while the stated goal was not met, the purpose behind it was. I feel okay about that. It may be something I try to do in the future.
- Master cinemagraphs. Again, something I did not do. Cinemagraphs also didn’t catch on like I thought they might, and I’m not sure if this is something I will continue to work on (I did work on them, just not master them).
For personal goals….I had hoped to eat more vegetables (meh) and walk more. Just going to be honest, I really suck at taking care of myself. I probably ate a few more vegetables than I have in previous years of my life…but not enough to make any real difference, and I did not get in any kind of good exercise habit.
With that in mind, a lot of my goals for 2017 revolve around self care. Because the business is a big part of my life, some of them also happen to be business goals.
- Tell stories that matter. This is the heart of what our business is, and I want to keep it the focus of every film I make. To produce films that are more than just a slideshow of moving pictures, there must be intentional focus on message and meaning. The emotion behind these images are what draws us closer together, I don’t want to stray from that. Sometimes it’s hard because I tend to get really emotionally invested in things myself, but I’m okay with that. This is the big goal, and everything else revolves around making this goal easier to accomplish.
- Schedule, plan, and automate more things. I spent a lot of time working on our marketing and social media last year, and as we grow our client base every year, we spend more and more time dealing with things like invoicing, billing, and file organization. This year, we’re moving to a client management system, so that’s goal number 1. Find a system we like and make it work for us. (We’re experimenting with one, so if you’ve sent an inquiry in the past month or so and have an opinion about the interaction, I’d love to hear it). I’m also going to use some social media planners to plan and schedule out posts on our social media accounts. What I will not be doing is automating any of the interactions on social media; if you get a like, comment, or follow from Motionworks, trust that it is because I genuinely like what you’re posting, want to interact with you, and value you as part of our little community. Because that’s what I want, a little community, not a massive follower count.
- Studio hours. I’m going to be honest, I struggled with the idea of the studio. Chris and I work in very different ways. He needs a separate space to completely avoid distraction. I can never seem to turn one part of my life off long enough to get that separation; I edit in the midst of doing laundry and preparing dinner, I work on our social media and marketing while standing in lines at the bank and the post office and the carpool line, I juggle tasks and kids and pets and house and a part time job. This has made it increasingly harder to turn my mind off, to ever relax. When I do, I start to feel guilty about the things I should be doing. I worry that I will never have time to use the studio, and that having our main editing machine there will slow up my disorganized, but generally effective, workflow. I don’t seem to have the multitasking problem with my little day job; I go there during designated hours, I work hard and get everything I can done in the time I have to do it, then I walk out the door and don’t think of it much until the next day. It’s glorious. While I won’t be able to get that kind of separation, I am going to get into a better routine and schedule. One afternoon a week, I am going to treat myself to lunch after the day job (something I never do, which is silly) from one of our local restaurants, go to the studio, and work. On weeks we are not filming on Fridays, I will be in the studio from 9-2. I will work hard while I’m there, and I hope to not carry so much of it with me the rest of the time.
- Pay people to do things, and not feel bad about it. I am frugal. It’s a part of me. We didn’t have much money growing up, and for most of my adult life it has been the same. It’s led to a real guilt complex on spending money, especially on myself. It’s ridiculous when it comes down to it, that I do not hesitate to spend on other people, but so rarely spend on myself. I know this is something a lot of moms struggle with, but I can be a bit extreme. Case in point: for the most part, I groom our Shih-Tzu. If you’ve ever done this, you will realize how ridiculous it is. I’m not a dog groomer. It takes hours of time. I’m miserable, the dog is miserable, it’s a huge mess. All to save a little money. Not even that much money. When you start adding up all the things I’m doing (that I hate) to save money, it becomes a mountain. So I will pay people to groom my dog, and trim my trees, and maybe sometimes clean my house, because these things do not bring me joy, I’m not good at any of them, and they don’t even cost that much money. This goes hand in hand with studio hours; because paying people to do the things I’m not good at and don’t enjoy will give me the time I need to focus while at the studio.
My personal goals are pretty simple. I got a head start on them and they are going well.
- Read more books. I have always loved reading. Like, 3-4 books a week reading. A prolific amount of reading. For as long as I can remember, I’ve read mountains and mountains of books. Except in 2016, I read maybe 10 books, and at least half of them were business related. Literature causes me to think about things other than myself (and something think about exactly myself) in ways that movies or surfing the internet never will. Through the pages of many books I first learned to love the concept of story, and to see the importance of sharing it. If I want to succeed at telling stories that matter, I need to consume stories that matter, and I plan to do a lot of it in 2017. No more reading news from my phone before bed, or *business related stuff until I can’t keep my eyes open.
- Drink more things. I mean, ideally, water. But I’m not going to be too strict about what it is. I live in a constant state of dehydration. It’s really inconvenient to have to tote water around all day, or expensive to buy other drinks, and who has time to use the bathroom? So I’ve gotten into this terrible awful unhealthy habit of not drinking much of anything, chewing gum to stave off thirst and going about my day. I’m also usually exhausted and headachy and as an almost 40 year old verified adult, I think I ought to value self care enough to master this basic adult task.
That’s it for me. If you are the kind of person who spends this time of year reflecting and setting goals for the next year, I’d love to hear about them. And if you see me in 2017, hold me accountable!
*Confession – this blog was written at almost midnight on a Tuesday, so it feels a bit hypocritical to declare no more business until my eyes can’t stay open. In my defense, it’s not yet 2017. Multitasking late into the night up through the bitter bitter end of 2016……