If you want to be successful in a creative field like design or marketing, you need to know how to set goals and find the discipline to reach them all on your own.
Wish you could find the motivation and discipline to tackle all your career goals?
If you want to stand out in a crowded design market, it takes a lot of hard work off the clock to show clients and hiring managers what makes you extra.
And that can mean everything from creating an online portfolio to attract more gigs to using your social media accounts to land jobs.
So how do you complete these tasks when you don’t have an immediate paycheck or your boss’s wrath as motivation to get them done?
You learn how to find more discipline and hold yourself accountable.
What Does It Mean to Hold Yourself Accountable?
It may be easy for you to excuse your less-than-stellar work ethic if you convince yourself you’re too busy or too tired to tackle your career goals on top of a full-time job.
But the only one to blame for not reaching your career goals is you.
And that’s why only you can hold yourself accountable.
Accountability Implies a Sense of Ownership for Both Positive and Negative Outcomes
When you hold yourself accountable, it means you take responsibility for your failures and achievements.
Having accountability keeps you in control of the tasks that matter most.
You’ll set goals with specific intentions and consistently work on achieving those goals without excuses getting in your way.
The more goals you accomplish, the more you’ll want to stack additional goals to build momentum.
As one win leads to a shift in your behavior, you’ll eventually be able to totally transform your professional life for the better.
But if you don’t always have discipline to manage your goals, that ends today.
How to Find More Discipline and Hold Yourself Accountable
These tips will help you become a more successful version of yourself:
First, Distinguish Between Goals and Expectations
Did 10-year-old you think you’d be a millionaire or famous by your age now?
While you’ve probably always had an expectation of success, expectations are not the same as goals.
Expectations aren’t grounded in reality; they’re just a very strong belief you may have for yourself.
Goals are desired results.
And you’ll only score those results when you keep your stick on the ice.
Why does this distinction matter?
Because when you don’t meet an arbitrary expectation, like becoming Instagram famous, you may see yourself as a failure, lose motivation, and abandon your goal of success.
But when you set a realistic goal, you can focus on the progress you’re making towards your end result.
This forward momentum will help you dominate your goals instead of giving up.
Speaking of which, it’s also crucial to set goals the right way.
Set Personalized SMART Goals
SMART goals give you more direction and make it easier to hold yourself accountable.
A SMART goal is:
- Specific. So you’ll need to zero in on exactly what you want to accomplish by being as detailed as possible. Example: I want to create a design portfolio to show off all my work and link to my social media accounts.
- Measurable. This is how you’ll know when you’ve made progress or achieved your goal. Example: I want to grow my email list by 500 new subscribers.
- Attainable. Goals have to be realistic. If you only have 25 Twitter followers and you want 100k by next week, you may be setting yourself up for failure instead of setting yourself up for a win.
- Relevant. You can set as many goals as you want, but they should be tied to your larger career aspirations and work well with other goals in your long-term plan.
- Timely. How long should it take to complete your goal? A concrete deadline not only gives you a sense of urgency, it also gives you a way to hold yourself accountable if you meet or fail to meet the due date.
After you set your SMART goals, you’ll need to prioritize the order in which you knock them out.
Prioritize Your Goals and Only Focus On One at a Time
You probably have a lot of career goals for yourself. And there are numerous tasks associated with completing those endeavors.
So rather than simply writing a to-do list, create a list of to-dos ranked by priority.
When you know which tasks need to be accomplished first, you can:
- Create a game plan. With a clear start and end in sight, you’ll know what to do every step of the way, won’t let distractions creep in, and be able to hold yourself accountable.
- Focus on one specific task/goal at a time. This helps you stay on track and prevents you from taking on too much work at once.
- Minimize multitasking, which science says is terrible for your brain and productivity[*].
This approach helps you organize your tasks so you don’t work haphazardly and instead maintain steady progress.
Improving your design and marketing skills doesn’t happen overnight; it takes hours of hard work, dedication, and a consistent routine to follow.
Get Into a Consistent Routine
Even though you may be able to set your own work hours, a routine will make sure you’re in the zone during a specific time most productive for you.
Having too much freedom with your hours allows for distractions to derail the work needed to complete your goals.
So try to wake up at the same time everyday (or set a specific window of work time later) and then create a ritual designed to get your brain into work mode (i.e., making coffee, stretching, checking emails, etc.).
Along with a consistent schedule, you’ll also want a dedicated space where you won’t be distracted from completing your tasks.
Establish a Distraction-Free Workspace
One of the greatest productivity hacks for remote workers is roping off a designated workspace where goals are accomplished and distractions are few and far between.
So think of your work space as an office with other people in it.
While you may be able to shop in a new tab when you’re alone, you’d never do this if eight other coworkers could peep over at your screen and see what you were up to during work hours.
But if you find yourself more excited by distractions than your actual work, you may have another problem on your hands.
Find Real Excitement for Your Work
Still can’t find motivation to complete your career goals?
Maybe you’re just not that into them.
A lack of discipline can also stem from a lack of enthusiasm and passion.
So see what else is out there on Fresh Gigs, Canada’s best place for marketing and design professionals to find jobs all across the country.
If you stumble upon a gig you can’t wait to update your cover letter and resume for, make that the first of your new career goals to accomplish now that you have the discipline and accountability to do so.