The Birth of a Goal
We set goals for ourselves from a young age, but not only that. Other people set them for us. When the baby will walk, when the interview will land the first job, when the fame is going to kick in. The truth is that there is nothing wrong with goals themselves or the act of setting them for yourself and the people you are responsible for. What people don’t talk about it sometimes how long those goals take to accomplish and the emotional toll it can take on a person if that goal is not kept in check.
The Emotional Goal-a-coaster
Setting a big goal with a deadline is good right? Telling yourself that thing that you so deeply want is going to happen on an exactly predictable timeline. It makes things easy. Unfortunately I think the norm of how we’ve been setting our goals wrong. Goals with deadlines and no wiggle room allow for a high risk of disappointment. That disappointment is one of the few things that can/will stop you from reaching your goal.
How Do We Fix This Problem.
I’d like to tell you a story of something that happened to me this month to help lead you to a solution. For this story to make sense we have to go back to where my creative passion for shooting music arose- at a small(ish) concert venue for a Christian rapper named Andy Mineo. I didn’t know Andy personally, yet it was quite the opposite. He was a person I had 0 connection to, but felt weirdly connected to through the beautiful thing we call music. I guess you would simply call that being a “fan”. The interesting thing about that show is that although I came for the music I left wanting the career.
I’ll never forget seeing a photographer shoot that show and thinking to myself, “If that’s a job- I want it.” So do you know what I did? I left that venue and started talking to as many people I could about how I could maybe one day have a career like that for myself. I started setting what I like to call “no end date” goals. Goals that are a priority because they stem from passion. Goals that look more like direction, than perfection.
I’m pleased to inform you that this month I was able to shoot Andy at the biggest arena in the state of Tennessee. You may be thinking to yourself- “What in the world did he do to get in there to shoot that show?”. The real answer is nothing in particular. I simply chased the one baby step at a time with a general goal to shoot bigger and better things and provide value to everyone I touch. Naturally… it ended up putting me in arena that I’ve been wanting to shoot in since day one, but never set a date to shoot in.
Deadlines Aren’t Always Your Friend.
I tell you all this not to brag. It’s actually quite the opposite. It’s to tell you that your work in the quiet, in the unseen, in the shadows… that is the driving force of what’s going to get you to your goals. Time and time again. Mixing humility with drive is a deadly combo that’ll leave you reaching every single goal you’ve ever had. The true key to getting there is also enjoying what you have. Don’t take your current season for granite. It’s beautiful in it’s own way, so don’t forget to look for it.
The Thing We Never Do Enough
Often times we as people, especially during the Christmas season get so caught up in we are doing that we forget to look around and acknowledge what the people around us are going through. We all know that the holidays are hard for some people, but do we ever consider the small steps we can take to make their holiday a little less hard?
Stress, Work, and Perfectionism
As I was preparing for a show in Midland, Michigan while on tour this last month I was stressed. Stressed about how I was going to make the band look good, while also outdoing myself in comparison to the way I performed the night before. A classic predicament of a creative hustler.
A friend of mine who was serving within the hospitality crew for the tour turned to me in my stress, and politely asked, “Hey Cole, would you mind taking these extra burgers out to the homeless men across the street?”. Without hesitation I said yes because I needed something to get my mind off perfectionism.
As I walked across the street I was thinking thoughts like, “It’s too fu*** cold out here”, “Should I jog to warm up”, and “What if they don’t like the fact that I have food and jump me.”. EVERY single one of those thoughts was so irrational and stupid considering my circumstance. Regardless I had a job to do and I was going to do it to the best of my ability.
He Was Homeless. I Was Busy.
Soon enough I ended up arriving to these men dressed in winter coats. All the men had a certain roughness to them, but it wasn’t aggressive. It more brotherly than anything. Like these guys took care of each other (Which I later came to find they did). I explained to them that the meals were for them and then got into a conversation with a man named Steve.
Steve explained to me that he used to be both a musician and a Christian, but is not longer heavily involved in either for reasons unbeknownst to me. He explained to me what hurt him, what got him excited, and what life was like. Guess how long we talked? 30 minutes. I expected to be outside for 3 minutes tops.
He Lives In my Inconvenience
The reason I share this story is to drive home the fact that we have so much to be grateful for, and have the ability to help people relive their creative dreams vicariously. We do this art so that others can dream big. Next time you’re out, ask a “Steve” you would’ve never talked to, “What’s your story?” because you may just give them a glimpse of hope… oh yeah… and they might just leave you with something you never would’ve thought about otherwise.
Love people y’all. Love Steve. Stay creative.
The Hard Reality
The end of the year is a scary time for us as creatives. It’s the time of year where work begins to die down, and with that our paychecks too (typically). I consider myself to be a blend of an optimist and a realist, and because of that I tried to find a positive way to view this “Dry” season. I sat asking myself, “What in the world can I use this time for, that benefits both my creativity and my business when work is slow?”
Thankfully the answer jumped out at me while having a conversation with the incredible Robby Klein. He said to me, “The truth is that when we don’t have paid work, we have time to do personal work. If we choose not to engage with personal work, we choose to not get paid work the next month. It’s a crazy reality that I cannot explain, but have seen it play out again both for me and others.”
The Hard Truth
I think there is something so incredibly true about what he said. Us as creatives need our personal work to stay creatively “healthy”. Something deep inside me also wants to spend time with that younger “no care in the world” creative self that I once was at 12 years old. The moment I lose that creativity is the moment CLICKTA’s “product development” department shuts down.
As a freelancer, I have to wear many hats. A majority of my job revolves around things that don’t involve me holding a camera. It’s great when I get to, but it’s not as frequent as I’d like it to be. Do you know who is responsibility it is to do something about that? It’s mine. I’m the only one who can make the choice to do what needs to be done as well as what I want to do. Sitting around complaining about it will never accomplish anything worthwhile for my business or reputation.
The Easy Solution
Us as creatives have so much power. You may not think so, but our ability to see things that don’t exist and bring them to reality is such an incredible God-given gift. It’s almost like a super power. If we take a second to flip our perspective and stop seeing the end of the year as just another “slow season”, and begin to see it as a time for us to be kids again, we unlock something special. It’s a chance to play with our craft so that we can integrate our findings into our businesses and artistry the following year. What’s the reward? Satisfaction, fulfillment, potential monetary gain, an opportunity to work with new people/friends, and above all the dopamine rush that comes with creation.