8 steps artists can take to achieve their three year strategic plan.

Yesterday, I wrote about ways artists can create a three year strategic plan. Here are eight steps to take your ideas from planning to action.

  1. Set Incremental Goals—Take the strategy statement you created from the previous post and start to set some goals for how you will accomplish the work over the next three years. I like to think in quarters over three years because your goals become more attainable when you split them up. That means that you have 12 checkins with yourself to see if you’re accomplishing your established goals.
  2. Set Categories—I would suggest breaking down your goals into three buckets: Work/Life Balance Goals, Financial Stability Goals, and Artistically Fulfilling Work Goals. Within each category you might have 3-5 goals you’d like to accomplish. Write them beneath each category.
  3. Set Benchmarks—For example, instead of saying “I’d like to have more artistically fulfilling gigs in three years,” say “By July of 2018, I’d like to have a minimum of three more artistically satisfying performance opportunities.” This gives you a way to evaluate how you’ve done each quarter.
  4. Set Stretch Goals—Each quarter when you sit down to reflect on the past few months, it’s important to set new goals that stretch you to the limits of what is possible. There is a sweet spot here, you don’t want to stretch too far that nothing ever gets done, and you don’t want to stretch too little and relax for two out of the three months in the quarter. Set goals that are about 80% attainable and go for them.
  5. Push your goals further—Often times, we stop pursuing goals when we reach them, even though we could probably go even further along our path. Make sure you are giving yourself permission to push ideas beyond what you imagined.
  6. Make time to tackle the hard stuff—Set aside blocks of time each week to tackle the big ideas that will help you move forward. If you don’t give yourself time to create, it will be difficult to get to the place you want to be in three years. My general advice is not to let a stretch goal go for longer than two quarters before you tackle it head on.
  7. Have an accountability partner—This is so incredibly important. Having a partner, friend, sibling, co-coworker, etc. check in with you to see how you’re doing can really help you move your personal strategic plan forward. Find a trusted colleague at the beginning of the process and ask them to help you stay on track.
  8. This is action based—If you’re still reading this post, you should know that the planning time is over. One of the biggest reasons individuals don’t make strategic changes in their career and life is that they get stuck in planning/thinking mode. I’m giving you permission to get out there and make the changes you need in order to activate your three year plan.

There you have it, a quick easy process for setting an action plan to achieve your three year strategic plan. How does this resonate with you? Let me know in the comment section below.

(Photo Credit: Marco Antonio Torres)

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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