My missed goal:
Back in June of this year, I applied for a job that is in my goals; to be one of the brand photographers for lululemon at the SSC in Vancouver.
I was very disappointed when I heard I didn’t get the job.
I honestly thought I had a good chance. Working as the brand photographer for lululemon in Australia and New Zealand the past 3 years gave me insight into the brand that outside photographers wouldn’t have. I felt that I could fit into the team easily as I was already producing work that was in line with what we do.
Thing was, they were looking for experience and lots of it. They wanted someone who’d worked in the industry for many years and had experienced working with a variety of brands, styles and coming up with innovative solutions to creative problems.
I get it. Experience is extremely valuable. I’m a better photographer now than I was when I started.
Does that mean that you can’t be an excellent young/new photographer? No. But it does mean that you probably have to work your butt off and keep shooting so that you can learn the lessons that only mistakes can teach you.
Dealing with Missed Goals
I wallowed in my disappointment for a day. As hard as it is, there’s part of me that just wanted to experience it fully instead of trying to shove it under the rug.
Then it was time to shift my perspective.
Turning things around
One of the most powerful things I’ve learned in my self-development is that it is not the actual situations in our lives that make us feel bad, it is the story that we tell ourselves about those situations that do.
When I heard the news, I instantly went into some version of the following stories:
- I’m not good enough
- They don’t like me enough
- I’m not a good photographer
- I’ll never be good enough to reach this goal
- I’ve been doing the wrong thing to try to achieve this goal
There are three questions that I ask myself to help shift my story:
- Is the story true? (hint: it never is)
- Does it make me feel powerful?
- What story that is also valid leaves me feeling powerful?
So a set of more powerful but still related stories would read:
- I didn’t have what they were looking for at this time
- There are things that I still need to work on in order to achieve this goal
- If I take new actions I can achieve this goal the next time an opportunity comes up
These stores still aren’t “true”, but they definitely turn my experience of the situation in a more positive direction.
There’s a myriad of other stories I could have told myself:
- They don’t know what they’re missing
- I didn’t really want it anyway
- It wasn’t meant to happen
- This will leave me open to new possibilities
Always choose the ones that make you feel powerful and will compel you into new actions.
When you miss a goal, its a good time to take stock and see if that goal is one that you still want to achieve.
A good way of doing that is to sense whether or not you feel a sense of excitement in working towards and achieving that goal. If you don’t feel anything, you may want to explore those things that do get you energised (that’s what we call passion).
I still want to join the Brand team in North America. So getting on the phone with the Photography lead in Canada and telling him that I’m still committed to that goal was important to me.
Setting new short-term goals
Clearly, what I’ve done up until that day didn’t work in achieving this goal at this particular time.
I looked at what I could do differently and what tangible results would occur that would demonstrate to me that I’m moving in the right direction.
I turned that into the following short-term goal: My photography for lululemon is leveraged by our worldwide collective every week by August 1, 2016.
I haven’t yet achieved this goal of regularly having my photography leveraged. Yet as I write this, my images are on all of our largest regional websites: North America, Europe, Asia and Australia/New Zealand.
So although I didn’t achieve my goal, I’m closer to achieving it now than ever before.
The other photographer
Of course I was interested to know who got the job. With over a decade of shooting with big brands and photo editor at Later Mag that he helped start, they chose Colin Adair.
Looking at his work, it’s clear to see he has a creative eye and likes to have fun.
I’m actually really excited to get to meet him (hopefully pick his brain) and see what his creativity brings to what we do.
So does goal setting work?
Yes. But if you set big goals, you’re bound to miss on a few.
In fact if you’re achieving all of your goals, consider that you haven’t set the bar high enough.
Although I had to deal with this missed goal, there’s been a couple big goals that I’ve achieved recently that demonstrate that goals really do work.
If you don’t know where to start with your own goal setting, here’s a good place to start. When I first started goal setting I hated doing it. So if I can do it, anyone can.
Let me know if there’s any way I can help in the comments below or email me if you’d rather keep things confidential.
Solid post Matt. I was right there with you in the rejection.
We are trouble shooters first and photographers second, or at best a constant blend.
I had/have the same stories on a regular basis (today being one of them as I think I botched an ambassador shoot yesterday due to poor prep) and your perspective shift is a healthy reminder that we all encounter low points. I believe these are where we grow the most, as artists and as humans.
Thanks for the honest portrayal. 🙂
You’re very welcome Chris. I’m glad that you found something you resonated with in what I wrote.
Its completely normal to have those stories, even though they don’t feel very good. The power we have to choose our stories is what allows us to push ourselves further than we thought possible. I agree with you it is in that where we grow. So I guess in a way, we should be grateful for those moments of failure.
Great post Matt! What I’ve discovered from my own goal setting is that failure is simply a part of growth. Each time I set a goal and take action towards it, even if I don’t fully achieve it- I’ve still made great progress. Seeing failure as a tool has been the hardest but most valuable lesson for me!
Thanks Stacey! I think what you said there is an important insight. From what I see, it is the “taking action” part that people struggle with most, partially due to he fear of failure. By redefining the story I tell myself about failure and what it means, I can quickly get back into action.