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Setting goals for surface pattern designers

Design and Shine Podcast episode title Setting goals for surface pattern designers. Image of girl's hand writing on notepad



Today we are going to talk about setting goals because it’s a really great way of keeping you on track and moving forwards so you achieve the results you want. Personally, I think it’s a great thing to do both at the start of the year and also mid way through the year so you can set goals for the next 6 months ahead and you can also reflect on what you have or haven’t achieved. 

The reason we set goals is it gives us something really tangible to work towards and it allows us to really get clear on our start and end objectives. Having goals and really breaking them down, which we will be talking about today, will help give actions to take each month, each week and even each day if you choose to break it down that far which is so helpful because it means that you have a path to follow and it can help remove the overwhelm. I know when I don’t have a clear vision of what’s in front of me and if I haven’t set my weekly and daily intentions, I’ll sit down to work and pretty much end up going around in circles getting nothing done. Setting goals both big picture long term gaols and smaller short-term goals will really help you stay on track.

And of course, what we’ll be talking about today is setting your surface pattern design goals. These are going to vary so widely depending on where you are currently at and what you personally want to achieve. It’s worth remembering that goals don’t have to big. They can big, they can be small or they can be anything in between. The most important thing though is when you make them you make sure that they are intentional, actionable and achievable. 

You don’t want to make them too difficult otherwise it’ll be unlikely that you’ll achieve them and that can result in you feeling disheartened and giving up but on the other hand, if you make them too easy you won’t be inspired and you also won’t be reaching your full potential. Which is of course what you want to do.

Your aim is to meet yourself wherever you are currently while still pushing yourself a little out of your comfort zone.

Because we are going to be talking about goals in relation to surface pattern design we are going to look at setting some goals in 2 different but very important areas. One area will be design and the other area will be the business side of design. I think it’s easiest to separate those areas as the tasks will be quite different and the goals you set will also be really different and will vary depending on where you are at right now.

If you’re just getting started in surface pattern design then you may choose to just set goals in the design area for now. Of course, your goals can be fluid and can change and alter as you do as a person and also as a designer. Nothing has to be set in stone.

Before we get started thinking about setting our goals, I want you to have a think about these 2 areas and think about what you would like to achieve in these areas by the end of the next 6 months.

Design Area

The design will include anything to do with learning how to use the design software and creating your pattern repeats and collections and the business area will include anything to do with setting up your business or contacting clients for example setting up your website, researching clients, marketing etc.

Let’s dive in and first look a little deeper at the sort of goals you may want to set for the design area. 

As I mentioned, everyone will be really different in the goals that they want to set but also in where they are currently at and the realistic time they have to allocate towards spending on achieving their goals

Some of the things you might want to think about in this area are :

•Learning the design software or upleveling your skills in the design software. If you are brand new or are finding using the software challenges, your goal could be related to that. Or you may know how to use Illustrator for example and one of your goals could be to learn Photoshop

•You could set a certain number of designs or collections of designs that you want to create. Once again make sure you meet yourself wherever you’re at. If creating patterns is new to you then your goal could be to learn as simple as how to create the most common types of repeats 

-You could set one of your goals to learn a new medium to create your designs in or to develop some designs for a new design category 

Or another great goal in this area could be to create a design practice where you commit to doing something daily in your sketchbook or to set up your daily design practice where you create something every day- even if it’s for 5 minutes.

I recommend you really sit with and evaluate your current skills and design practice and see where you would like to be in 6 months. Remember you want to keep your goals so they are achievable while still pushing you a little.

Once you’ve had a think and decided on the goals you want to in the design area, we’re going to start by creating an overall 6 month goal .

What are you wanting to achieve in the design area by the end of 6 months?

Then I want you to break your goal down month by month. What will you achieve each month that will help you achieve your overall outcome. 

Now you have your monthly goals, in order to achieve them, you need to set some actions. 

For each month, write down the actions that you will do to achieve your monthly goal. It’s really important that you add in the actions because there is no point in having goals if you’re not setting actions to achieve them. 

For example, if your goal is to create 6 collections at the end of 6 months then your monthly goal could be to create a collection a month.

Your action each month would then be to create a mood board, and then you could list out the number of designs you want to create in each collection.

As you get to each month, I would recommend at the start of each month, looking at your overall goal and breaking it down to weekly goals and then each week breaking them down further to daily goals. This will keep your goals really actionable and achievable. Personally, I think it’s easier to break down each month as you get to it as trying to do it for longer period than that can feel really overwhelming plus if you don’t quite make each month’s goals, you may want to revise your goals slightly for the following month

Business Area

Now we’re going to have a look at setting your design business goals.

If you are brand new to surface pattern design and as I mentioned earlier if you’re just getting started and you feel overwhelmed by the business side, you can skip this area for no.

Let’s have a look at some of the things you might want to consider in the business area 

•If you are new and not ready to really dive into the business area but you want to start doing something small you could think about creating a business name (that could be your name or another name, whatever you prefer but you could start thinking about what you would like that to be. At the same time, you want to make sure you can claim the same name as your social media handles. Once you choose your name, it’s a great idea to purchase the domain name, as well as claim the name you choose on the different social media handles. That would be a great goal to get started with if you are a beginner.

You could also start thinking about registering your business name or looking into what’s required to register your business. Start researching in the country where you live any other requirements for starting your own business. For example, in Australia, you need an ABN (Australian business number) so you are able to invoice clients.

Some other ideas would be to think about setting up a business bank account so you pay and receive money into a separate bank account.

Other goals in this area that you may want to consider include setting up a social media strategy. For example, setting a schedule for posting on different social media channels a set number of times per week,

  • Setting up your website is another great goal. This is something that will often take a bit of time but it’s important as it acts as a home base for where people can find out more about you and see your work
  • Another great goal could be to start researching potential clients that you think would be a good fit for your work, finding out the contact details for each and then looking at starting to contact them with your work. You could give yourself a set number of clients that you will contact each month. 
  • Or you could even have an income goal that you want to achieve 

Once you’ve had a think about what sort of goals you want to create for the business area, I recommend you do the same thing we did with the design area and start by creating an overall 6 month goal 

What are you wanting to achieve in the business area by the end of 6 months?

Then once again you want you to break your goal down month by month. What will you achieve each month that will help you achieve your overall outcome. 

Now you have your monthly goals, you then can start setting some actions

For each month, write down the actions that you will do to achieve your monthly goal.

Of course, you can then break down those months into weekly and daily goals too.

When you get to the end of the 6 months, it’s really important that you also spend some time reflecting on what you did and didn’t achieve and make sure you celebrate your wins




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