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How to Achieve Your Dreams Using SMART Goals in Interior Design

blog for interior designers career advice career growth emerging professionals good habits personal development personal growth Jul 21, 2023
What are SMART Goals and How interior designers can achieve more

If you're looking to advance your career in interior design, setting career goals is a crucial step toward success. For any profession, goal setting is an important process that helps you stay focused on what you want to achieve. In the world of interior design, it can be challenging to map out a clear path toward career growth.

Setting professional goals can provide a structured method to help you achieve your aspirations and gain the recognition you deserve. In this blog post, we'll discuss how to set career goals for professional growth in interior design.

In my opinion, creating your smart goals is critical to your future success. Still, it goes beyond just setting a goal and leaving it. Every semester, I encourage my design students and coaching clients to set at least three SMART goals. I do this because it forces them to step out of the day-to-day and sit in their dreams.

Your goals start with a dream. What are you dreaming? You may dream of being a nationally recognized designer, or maybe you want to achieve stardom through television. Whatever your dream, you will need actionable goals.

Let's start with identifying a SMART goal.


What is a SMART Goal?

I have repeatedly heard "experts" talk about not needing a goal. I respectfully disagree. If you don't know where you're going, then how will you get there? To have a goal isn't enough. I think that is what many experts are getting at when they say goals aren't necessary. In some ways, that is correct. A goal is not something you set and never look at again. It is the beginning of your journey. We will talk about that in a moment.

A "SMART" goal is "Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and within a Timeframe." Let's dig further into SMART goals.


Make Your Goal Specific:

Your goals should be clear and concise. It states what you want, why it matters, and how to achieve it.

Bad Goal Example: "I want to read more."

This first goal is not specific enough. Read what? More traffic signs. What is the purpose of reading more? Do you want to expand your knowledge in certain areas of your life, or maybe you want to read more for relaxation?

Good Goal Example: "I want to read one book per month to increase my knowledge about personal finance."

This goal makes more sense. It clearly states a specific purpose for the goal.


Ensure It's Measurable

Your goals should be measurable. How will you know you have achieved it if you don't measure it? Define how you will track your progress and know when you've achieved your goal. Include precise amounts, dates, and so on in your goals to measure your degree of success. If your goal is not measurable, you cannot identify your progress and whether the goal is attainable.

Bad Goal Example: I will be a senior interior designer.

Good Goal Example: I want to become a senior interior designer within the next three years by improving my leadership skills and building a strong network in the industry.


Make Sure It is Achievable.

Your goals should be achievable. If it isn't achievable, then you will only get discouraged.

Bad Goal Example: I want to be the world's best female guitarist.

First, I have zero musical talent. I played the violin for five years as a kid until I finally realized I was tone def. So, the idea that I could be the best female guitarist is obviously not achievable.

To achieve a goal, determine what resources you need to achieve it and ensure those resources are available. This requires you to take a deep dive into your strengths and weaknesses. It also requires you to look at the environment in which you work or live. Is the goal achievable in the current situation?

If you are working at a business with no growth opportunities, that will need to change before you can reach that goal. That might be a separate goal.

Good Goal Example: I will achieve my goal by taking an online course in leadership, connecting with industry professionals on LinkedIn, and joining a professional association.


Relevance Matters

Your goals should be relevant to your career aspirations. Ensure that the goals you set align with your long-term career goals. This guarantees that even as you work towards achieving this specific goal, you're also making progress in other areas of your life or work that are important to you.

Good Goal Example: Improving my leadership skills is necessary for achieving my goal of becoming a marketing manager.


Set a Timeframe

Set your goals for completion within a reasonable timeframe. by setting a deadline for achieving each goal and working diligently towards it. When you have a deadline, it creates a sense of urgency, which can motivate you to get started.

Leaving a goal just floating out there guarantees you won't achieve it.

Good Goal Example: I will be promoted from assistant interior designer to interior designer within the next year.

Now that you have identified your SMART goals, now what. Now, it is time to get to work.


Creating an Action Plan

As I mentioned above, creating goals is not good enough. If you don't make an action plan, you will not achieve your goals. Without a plan, you will be unfocused and will fail. Let me give you an example from earlier.

"I want to read one book per month to increase my knowledge about personal finance."

First, what books do you plan to read? Start with creating a list of books that have been recommended. Here are a few I recommend:

The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey

Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money” by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

You Are a Badass at Making Money” by Jen Sincero


Next, when will you read? If you are serious about improving your finances by reading books, you must schedule a time to read. Maybe your house is quiet in the morning, and you decide to read for 20 minutes while drinking your coffee. Or maybe 10 minutes before bed works for you. I recommend deciding when you will read, as well as where. Find a quiet and comfortable space that isn't too distracting for reading.

Now, how many pages will you read? I look at a book's length and divide the number of pages by the number of days I will read or chapters by the number of days. Whatever method, you determine how many pages you will read, and once you read those pages, you're done for the day. That doesn't mean you can't keep going, but it gives you a stopping point in your head that allows you to take the break to read and put all the other pressure you feel aside for those number of pages.

A strange thing will happen over time; it becomes a habit. If you schedule the time, place, and number of pages you plan to read and accomplish it, you will feel self-satisfaction. This feeling is the release of dopamine. Over time, your body will crave that feeling. That feeling helps you make a habit.

As your action plan develops, you unintentionally develop habits that keep you on course to accomplish your goals.

Once you have decided on your SMART goals, create an action plan for each. Decide what steps you need to take to achieve your goal, and then start taking them. Having a clear action plan can help you stay focused and motivated.


What if I Don't Even Know What I Want?

Now that is a problem. It is time to take a closer look at where you are going. I recommend this simple exercise. 

Start with writing down an idea you are thinking about doing. For instance, if you aren't sure you want to start a business or continue working at your current employer, you would write down "start a business."

Now, write two columns – Pros and Cons. Write down everything you like about starting a business and everything that scares you.

Next, write two more columns – Your Strengths and Weaknesses. Write down every strength you have to help you start a business. Now, write every weak area that is holding you back.

Look at the cons and the weaknesses – Who can help you solve those? For instance, I am not a tax expert, and my business finances frustrate the crap out of me. I logically understand the importance and how checks and balances work. Still, I would rather repeatedly poke my eyeball with a pin than deal with my taxes. Luckily, a bookkeeper and a CPA can help me. They are worth every penny to take that stress off me.

Hopefully, you will see a vision as you analyze the different columns. You begin to see a picture. You are identifying all the good, and you can also see how to overcome the bad. Now, with that said, If your cons and weaknesses are so long that it is taking the fun out of the pros, then maybe we set that one aside. Not necessarily forever, but maybe starting a business is too much right now.

I can tell you that before I even took a design class, I wanted my own business. I didn't think someone would hire me because I was older. It turns out it was not smart to start my business without some experience because I made big, expensive mistakes. So, I went to work for a small architecture firm and then a much larger one. It turns out that my fear of being older was silly. When I eventually went out on my own, I was ready for it.

Remember, the key to achieving your goals is persistence. Stay focused, stick to your plan, and don't get discouraged if you face obstacles. With determination and hard work, you can achieve your specific goal.

I would love to hear from you. Share your SMART Goal with me by joining the Behind the Design community. Beyond the great resources you will have access to, we have launched a new community board just for interior designers. Feel free to post your SMART goal on the community board. 

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