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Happy New Year and Goal Setting for 2017

Well, it's that time again when the calendar rolls over to a new year. Time to review what we did over the last 12 months and look toward plans for the next 12.

One thing I recommend is to do a review of your photography. Go back exactly a year (use the metadata on your images to filter them in Lightroom) and look at your images from that time period. Now look at the photos you are taking now. Do you see a difference? If so, how has your photography changed?

Use this method of looking back to see how you grow and improve your photography, do not compare your work with other photographers. Give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate. Maybe get out and photograph some fireworks. There are some tips to help you with that here: Happy New Year and Some Fireworks Photography Tips.

Goals for the new year

Ah, the new year. Many people set resolutions for things they want to either stop doing (i.e. smoking) or for things they want to start doing (hopefully doing more photography every day). I like to look at the new year a little differently – I see it as a clean slate. Forget what happened last year and move on.

goal setting 2017

I like to set goals and make plans for the coming 12 months. Things I want to do or achieve. These are some of the things on my list for 2017:

  • Edit images and make a book of photos of my niece (taken in the summer of 2013 so it's about time I got to this one).
  • Visit at least one new country (I have plans to go to Colombia to study Spanish, and may pass through England after my spring Morocco tour).
  • Write a new ebook (this has been on my mind for a while – another 10 photography challenges perhaps).
  • Make another set of Lightroom presets (also been on my list for a while, it's coming I promise).
  • Get back into a healthy routine of cooking meals and exercising at least 2x a week.

So you can see I have some personal things on my list, some things related to the website and teaching, and some photography stuff. What is on your list? What do you want to achieve this year?

Tips for goal setting

If you have never done any formal goal setting here are a few guidelines to help you out.

goal setting for 2017

  1. Set up categories for the different areas of your life such as; health, financial, family, fun, education, etc.
  2. Make goals that are measurable (you need to know when you've achieved it). For example, “take more photos” isn't measurable, but “spend 5 minutes every day taking photos” IS measurable. “Lose weight” isn't – but “do one physical activity for 30 minutes 3x a week” IS. Getting the idea?
  3. Set a definite deadline or timeline. If you're setting yearly goals have them completed or achieved by year end. But set a date – otherwise, they'll just be out there to get to “some day” which never comes. Am I right?
  4. Make them realistic. Set yourself up for success, not for failure. Set goals that push you and make you grow as a person and photographer but make them doable. There is nothing more discouraging than getting to the end of the year and finding you didn't make any of your goals. If flying to 6 countries and buying $10,000 worth of new gear isn't realistic for you – then don't set those goals.
  5. Make them meaningful. The number one reason people fail at keeping resolutions is they don't follow most of the tips above and they usually aren't things they WANT to do, but things they think they SHOULD do. Pick goals that mean something to you, things that you want to succeed at and actually do.
  6. Write them down! This one is key. Many studies have been done on the most successful people in the world and I don't know the exact numbers but it's something like you are 10 times more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. If you want to take it even a step further . . .
  7. Tell other people! See what I did above? I told you some of my goals. I'm also part of a group of people who do weekly goals and help keep each other on track. When you put it out to the world your friends can help you achieve your goals – it also makes it just a bit more real, like you'd be letting others down if you said you'd do this thing and you don't do it. Making your goals public or even sharing with a friend privately is a powerful way to help you move forward. If you don't have anyone to share with – tell us! Just post them in the comments below so we can support each other.

Over to you

To get you started, just put a note in the comments about two things you'd like to do this coming year. Pick one that is photography related and another that isn't (financial, health, personal, travel, etc.). Or maybe the two are related like if you want to join me on a photography tour. That way you could potentially tick off two goals with one swipe!

If one of your goals is to learn to process your images or to learn Lightroom, you may want to check out my review of Lightroom Made Easy by Phil Steele (only until December 30th save 25% off as a Digital Photo Mentor reader).

So? What do you want to do this year?



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  • Very inspiring, Darlene! I love that you are going to study Spanish in a native country. I’m jealous. I’ve studied Spanis for about 3 years…much of my clientele is Hispanic. You’ll be way ahead of me! 🙂 Happy New Year!

  • Chris Sturm

    Can you share how you found a group to do weekly goals with?
    Inspired by your post. Thanks!

    • I’m part of what’s called a Mastermind group. But you can share goals with friends or join a photography club and share with other members.

  • Eugene Shuler

    Darlene, thanks for this encouraging reminder about goal setting. One of my goals for 2017 is to spend one hour three times a week taking photos. Another is bicycling for one hour two times a week. Have a safe and Happy New Year!

  • Cherie Flanagan

    Two important goals for 2017 I have would be to learn how to use LR so I can catalogue my photographs and the 2nd goal is to continue and increase my “special” exercises for post spinal surgery). Thank you for this article it has given me inspiration to get going on my goals. Happy New Year.

  • Riina Ani

    My 2 goals are:
    1. Complete #dogwood52 2017 photo challengs for a photo every week. Its doable
    2. Improve my moving by exercising 3x a week. Swimming,Walk and Muscle training.

    All is doable. Hope it will work out 🙂

  • Mick Miller

    Darlene, here r my 4 goals for 2017
    1) Every day do a lesson in A Course In Miracles, apply it thru the day.
    2) Every 4th of month put $50.00 into savings account, till at end of 2017 I have $600.00 saved.
    3) Every Wednesday from 2pm – 4pm take photo’s for my sister-in-law of her craft work. Then by Monday have 3 edited Raw images to send to her for her website.
    4) Every day spend 1 hr. learning Lightroom from the 2 courses I just purchased..
    .I’m excited to get started on these….Thank You 4 this Darlene….Mick

    • HI Mick – do you have 2 hours every day for doing those courses? If so, good for you! Just want to make sure you can keep it achievable.

      • Mick Miller

        Darlene, I don’t work & I thought I spend too much time on the computer wasting my time, so I wanted to focus on learning from the first course I bought on line from Hacking Photography, Lightroom Mastery a 3hr. course that has 16 modules for intermediate, so it’s a challenge for me since I’m just learning my Lightroom 5. This last week it seem other things have been needing my attention from relatives & others. I also bought e- books Understanding Light 1 & 2 because to tell the truth, I never understood how light works in photography. It seems today I was feeling over whelmed watching Lightroom Mastery course and trying to follow along as I had another tab open w/my Lightroom 5 trying to import photos to edit. At this time I think I’m going to put on the back burner the e-books that I down loaded. I have bad time management habits, so I’ll find out if I focus on these 4 goals hopefully my spiritual, photography & saving goals will all mesh together. Then when these become second nature to me I’ll later try to expand on these. I would appreciate if you have any more suggestion for me…thxs I really enjoy your Digital Photo Mentor…Mick

        • Yes actually. I would suggest picking one course or ebook and do that all alone. Do it first – do any exercises and practice that goes with it and really get the material. THEN do the next one. Trying to shift gears from lighting to LR will confuse your brain. Do ONE at a time.

          I would also highly suggest upgrading your LR to the current version. You can get it for only $9.99 a month now with Photoshop. So it’s quite affordable and there are features in it that aren’t in 5 so if you buy a current LR course there are things you won’t be able to do with 5.

  • 100God

    Darlene, Wishing you a very Happy New Year 2017.
    I would like to set following goals for myself for 2017:
    1. Save atleast 5000 (Indian Rupees), every month, so that I can purchase a Full frame camera (with additional money), by year end.
    2. Learning Goal – Go beyond my limits by learning more techniques in Macro photography. I currently limit myself to water droplets and flowers while shooting.
    3. Professional Growth – Want to go Pro in conducting Kids photo shoot by end of March’17. Im a li’l shy in this area but have done 4 shoots in 2016

    This is a very nice initiative n thought by you. You may me think about this and set some goals for me. Please do check with us by end of 2017, how much we could accomplish. I am sure all of us will be happy to share this with you.
    I am your big Fan..! (though not very regular with your articles these days).

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