Failure to Meet Goals: Now What?

Sunset over the Everglades - Everglades National Park, Florida

If you have read over my last couple posts, you realize that out of the eight goals I set for myself this winter, I accomplished about two and a half.  On any scale, that is a pretty overwhelming failure.  Does that mean the entire winter was a failure?  I hardly think so… In fact, I think this winter was a very successful season for me.

Sure, I wasn’t successful with what I set out to do back in October.  However, if you have been following the blog for the last few months, you have seen that I have had some success behind the camera.  I also have had several amazing experiences while traveling in South Florida and the Everglades.  So how did I turn a season where I only achieved a quarter of my goals into a success?  Here are a few pointers that really helped me.

Be Flexible!

During my last ten days in the field, I had planned to spend the first half on the west side of the state focusing mostly on Big Cypress and Fakahatchee Strand and the second half back in the east in Everglades National Park.  However, when I arrived at Fakahatchee that first day, I met Mike Owen, the park biologist and he invited me to spend a day exploring the swamp with him.  Unfortunately, the only time that would work was at the end of that ten day period when I planned to be back east.  Instead of turning down the opportunity, I was willing to be flexible and flipped my schedule, heading east for the first few days and then returning back to Fakahatchee at the end of the trip.

That day in the swamp turned out to be one of the most memorable days of the trip.  It also happened to fulfill one of my goals, but that was only possible because I was flexible.  You never know what amazing opportunities could come up so be sure to be flexible enough to take advantage when they do.  This happened numerous times throughout my trip and my flexibility proved to be extremely rewarding on every occasion.

Don’t forget the big picture

One of my goals was to spend some time exploring the 10,000 Islands region by canoe with my wife.  Unfortunately, the week we had set aside for that trip, South Florida got one of the longest and coldest periods of weather in the last century.  Sure, we could have forced the trip, but I guarantee you that we would have been miserable.  Unfortunately, that was my one real chance to explore that region this year.  Instead, we changed our plans and had a really great week farther north in the state, where we could stay in a house and not be miserable in a tent in the cold and wind!

Don’t be so steadfast in your goals that you lose site of the bigger picture.  We all are photographers because we enjoy it.  It is one of those professions that you get into because you love, not because it will make you rich.  In this case, I was just as happy to go somewhere else and avoid the harsh conditions (for Florida).  We could have been miserable that week, but instead, it became both an incredibly relaxing and productive week elsewhere.

Remember Priorities can Change

When I set out those goals back in October, I specifically set out personal photographic gulls.  None of them were necessarily business related or would result in any direct income.  They were simply photographs I wanted to make and experiences I wanted to.  Well, as you can probably relate these days, financial goals become a higher priority in February than they were in October.

I was unable to complete some of those personal goals because I was taking advantage of new business opportunities.  Yes, I would have loved to spend more time in the field photographing, but instead I found myself taking significant chunks of time for writing and business planning.  I altered my schedule on a number of occasions in order to spend a couple days doing some photography and natural history guiding or driving to Orlando for a meeting.  New business opportunities brought a change to my priorities.

Whenever setting personal goals, don’t forget that there is a fine line between working diligently to accomplish them and becoming so focused you loose site of everything else.  Be flexible and take advantage of any opportunities that turn up and you may end up successful, just possibly in a different way than you had originally planned.

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