New Year, New Goals: 3 Easy Tips to Help You Achieve Them

The beginning of a new year can be wonderfully motivating; you have a well of ideas and energy and can set exciting new goals. However, did you know that only 20% are still working towards them come February and by the end of the year it's only 8%?

The reason goals are so hard to stick to is that most people don't develop a plan to get themselves from Point A (where they are) to Point B (accomplishing their goal).

3 Tips for Setting Creative Biz Goals You'll Actually Achieve + FREE 15-page Worksheet | shannonmcnab.com

I was once part of the 92% that didn't stick to my goals, but last year was a wake up call. My 2017 goal was to exhibit at Surtex and successfully land enough work to exceed the costs of the trade show by 150%. And I'm proud to say that I had hit my goal by August.

But it wasn't just a fluke that I achieved my goal. It was because I was so driven to make it happen AND I developed a year-long plan to help keep me on track. So today, I'm sharing 3 helpful tips  to help you achieve (and exceed) your goal!

1. Set a Meaningful Goal

This may sound obvious, but in order to be successful, your goal needs to be something that excites you to your very core. Whether it's an income goal you wished you'd reach someday or landing one of your dream clients, pick something that will keep you motivated all year long.

There will be times during the year where you'll struggle, but if you have a goal you're eager to accomplish, you can tap into that excitement and help it carry you through.

Surtex 2017 at the Javits Center | shannonmcnab.com

In my case, Surtex was something I have dreamt about since I first learned what it was in graduate school a decade ago. So when I transitioned to surface design in the summer of 2016, I knew that Surtex was where I wanted to be. Of course my path to exhibiting wasn't easy and there were several moments of self doubt or frustration, but one thing that helped me keep going was the thought of walking into the Javits as an exhibitor for the very first time.
 

2. Do a Brain Dump

In order to create a solid plan for your goal, you need to contemplate everything you need to do to get there. Take out a piece of paper (you'll probably need several) and write down every task you can think of to help you work toward your goal, no matter how small.

My 2017 Goal Brain Dump: Exhibiting at Surtex | shannonmcnab.com

If that feels too daunting, start by breaking your large goal into smaller goals or categories and work through them one-by-one. By focusing on smaller aspects of your large goal, you're less likely to get overwhelmed.

When I did a brain dump for my 2017 goal of exhibiting at Surtex, I broke down tasks into the different aspects of preparation for the show, like exhibiting logistics, marketing, building my portfolio, etc.

Then I worked on each category one-by-one until I had 3 full pages of tasks I needed to complete.
 

Don't get too hung up on whether you've thought of absolutely everything. You can always come back to your list and add to it. 
 

3. Stay Accountable

For your goal action plan to work, you need to continually keep it in mind. One of the best ways to do this is to find someone like your partner, close friend, or family member. Tell them what your goal is and have them check in with you every month to keep you on track. 

You could also get a accountability buddy; it’s especially helpful if they are in the same industry and/or are working towards a similar goal. Or you could announce your goal on Instagram, to your email list, or even in the comments of this post (hint, hint!). Declaring your goal publicly can help make your goal seem more real, plus you’re likely get some people to cheer you on.

Me & my accountability partner, Lizzie Clark at Surtex 2017 | shannonmcnab.com

I was so fortunate enough to have an accountability partner for Surtex. My friend and fellow surface designer, Lizzie Clark, was also exhibiting for the first time in 2017, so it was the perfect solution for us to pair up. We Skyped every other week and emailed in-between; it kept our to-do list in the front of our minds and little by little, we checked off everything together. She's been an incredibly supportive partner-in-crime! 
 

Want to Achieve Your Goals This Year?

Goal Getter Worksheet by Shannon McNab | shannonmcnab.com

The business life of a designer can be a struggle, but developing a road map to get to your goals can make the journey a lot easier. So if you liked my tips in this post, but are struggling to figure out how to reach your goals or expand your business, my Goal Getter worksheet can help! 

I'll walk you through the entire process step-by-step from setting the RIGHT goal through developing a plan to stay ahead all year long.


Happy New Year | My 2016 Design Goals

As I reflect on the past year and look towards 2016, I definitely feel like this year is going to be a year full of change. While I've been giving most of my energy for the past two years toward my "side" business (which frankly, became my main business at the beginning of 2014), I have been a bit restless working solely within the confines of the digital scrapbook market.

Happy 2016 | shannonmcnab.com

And although I never like to make "New Years Resolutions", I still think it is important to choose a few goals – things to focus on that keep me moving forward in my business. Right now, here are my two main design goals for 2016:
 

1. Focus on Continuing Education

I've always been interested in trying new techniques or learning a few new-to-me keyboard shortcuts in Illustrator, however, I've barely focused on my creative development as an artist over the past two years. The result is that my business is not where I'd like it to be.

Education is such an important part of growing as a designer whether you're a newbie or a veteran in the industry. It's funny to me that I continually tell my pattern design students to keep learning and practicing, yet I haven't been taking that advice myself.

So one of my main goals for 2016 is to sign up for a few design classes that I've been wanting to take. Not only will it help me gain a fresh perspective on my work, but I also believe it really does help reignite that passion I have for what I do.
 

2. Work on my Drawing & Lettering Skills

If you've been following me on Instagram this past year, you may have noticed that I've been posting a lot more doodles and hand lettering in my sketchbooks in recent months. While I absolutely adore Adobe Illustrator and can work happily on the computer for hours on end, I've really been yearning to work in more traditional mediums lately.

Practicing my hand lettering skills | shannonmcnab.com

Fancy computer programs and fun digital gadgets like Wacom tablets are great, but they'll only get you so far. The best way I know how to get better at something is to practice... A LOT. And I didn't do that much practicing in the first half of 2015 (and I feel like the quality of my design work suffered as a result)

I know my pattern making skills are great, but I feel like I still have lots I can improve on in regards to my illustration and hand lettering skills, so that's where my focus will be in 2016.


Finding My Happiness Again

It's been two months since I published the post about my battle with depression on my sister site Scotty Girl Design, so I thought it was time to address it on this blog and give an update on how things have been going. Have I reached a new self-enlightenment in the past two months since my commitment to change? The answer is "maybe a little.”

Take Time to Do What Makes You Happy | shannonmcnab.com

After realizing that overworking myself was having an adverse effect on both my physical and mental well-being, the biggest hurdle I overcame was making the decision to slow down and reprioritize:

New Releases

I decided that churning out weekly or even bi-weekly collections of new product just wasn't doable for me in the long term, as I firmly believe in quality over quantity. So for 2015, my new product goal is to create only one kit or collection per month in my personal use shop at The Digital Press. (UPDATE: I retired from digi design in June 2016 to pursue a full-time career in surface design).

There will be times, of course, when I'll break this rule as inspiration will strike and I'll decide I want to create two kits instead of one. And that's ok, because it will be because I WANT to and not because I feel like I HAVE to.

Work that's created when you're excited to design always turns out much better than those that are forced.

I can actually look at any kit preview in my shop and immediately tell exactly how psyched (or not) I was to make it. And from now on, I want to be amped up about EVERYTHING I make.

It does not mater how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. -Confucius | shannonmcnab.com

Learning a New Skill

I feel that one of the best ways to grow as a designer is to learn a new technique or add to your current skill set, yet last year I was in the mindset of just maintaining where I was at and churning stuff out.

I feel like my creativity has suffered as a result, but it's not something I realized until I was in the middle of teaching my pattern design class at Scrapaneers – NOTE: I now teach design and business classes on Skillshare. Throughout the course of the class, many of the students had "ah-ha" moments when everything they learned came together and suddenly creating tiling repeat patterns just clicked. It was a joy to witness!

So they inspired me to revisit something I've always wanted to improve upon: my hand drawn typography skills.

I've dabbled in typography in the past, but I'd love to dive deeper into it and learn some tricks of the trade from the best in the business.

First up, I'm taking a Skillshare typography class by none other than Jessica Hische. I've worshipped her type skills for years, so I'm really excited to take her class! I'm also hoping to follow it up with a class or two from Mary Kate McDevitt, another hand lettering goddess I admire.
 

Breaks Are Totally Ok

Perhaps the biggest shift in my mindset is realizing that it's ok to take breaks from the business. Actually it's not just ok, it's essential to be a happy, creative business owner.

That revelation actually started back in December when I was neck-deep in work, and then I opened an email from Do What You Love. Beth Nicholls was sharing her very personal story of being in a constant loop of burnout---quick break to recover---repeat and boy did it sound all too familiar!

But then she said something that gave me pause: "...so we have decided to take December off – no classes, no deadlines, no stress." How could a business owner just stop working for a month?

At first, I didn't understand how it was possible, but as my own personal burnout was manifesting, I realized how could a business owner NOT stop working on occasion to recharge?!?

Of course at the time I knew I couldn't just drop the ball and take January off – actually that should be plural since I was juggling so many different balls in December (PHRASING! <--Archer reference, I couldn't help it!) – but I knew I wanted to take some time off to help find some happiness and get a bit of my design mojo back. So after planning things out, I've decided to take the entire month of March off from my business.

Now that doesn't mean I'll become a hermit over the next four weeks while I recharge, I'm actually hoping for exactly the opposite, but it does mean that I won't be creating any new designs until early April. 

As for my blog, if I feel like I have a personal story to share, I may jump on here to share it, otherwise you can still keep in touch with me on Instagram. Toodles til April!