Happy New Year!
It’s time to wave goodbye to the mince pies (well, once I’ve finishing the last two in the pack), and start setting some freelance goals to make 2017 your best freelancing yet.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Here are the steps I take to set freelance goals and keep to them.
Step 1: Review the last year
Yes, that’s a bit of a drag after the s**tshow that was 2016. But I promise it’s not all bad. Do you have a list of freelance goals you set in January 2016? Or a dream board you created on Pinterest with all your aims? Dig it out. You might be surprised to see how many of those things you have achieved, barely noticing.
Next up, write a list of all your achievements from 2016. Did you land a dream client? Conquer your fear of networking (even if it still means you have to sit in the car before and take a few deep breaths)? How much did you earn? Did you manage to weave some self-care and maybe even a holiday into your freelance life? Note it all down. How does that feel? You’ve done a lot more than you thought this year eh? I feel like I’ve been struggling to get balance with parenting and freelancing, but looking back I’ve achieved more than I thought.
Step 2: Where do you want to be this time next year?
Close your eyes. (Actually, read the next bit, then close your eyes.) Imagine yourself in a year’s time. What have you achieved? Where are you? What are you doing? How happy are you? What steps have you taken to get there? Now open your eyes and scribble it all down. Throw it up on a Pinterest board if that works better for you, or a cut and paste physical dream board. This is the first step in teasing out some freelance goals.
Visualisation is actually a really strong tool I use daily. I imagine how the day will go, and it helps me work out how to organise my day to achieve that visualisation. It doesn’t always go entirely to plan, but it does make me feel more organised and happier.
Step 3: Start creating freelance goals
Ok, so you know what worked for you last year, and you know where you want to be at the end of this year. So, how do we get there? Goal setting. There are a couple of ways you can do this:
- Create a Trello board. This is my preferred method. I brain dump all my ideas in a Trello board note, then start to sort through them and break them down into goals which I assign to each month. I also have board notes for content ideas for my newsletter, blog and podcast which I can slot in to complement those goals each month. So, for example, if my freelance goal was to launch a new product, I’d break it down into all the smaller tasks as a checklist, create content ideas that complement it, and add it to the note for that month. Video coming soon for how I do this! You could also use Evernote to do this, or Asana now they’ve created a new Trello-style board.
- Go old school. Grab a pen and paper and write down all of those goals from your visualisation. Whether it’s gaining a new client each month, earning enough to buy a new car or adding more self-care into your routine. Then break them down into smaller tasks. When you break down a task, I find it useful to estimate how long each smaller task will take, so it’s easier to work out where it might slot in. Then add it into your diary, planner or bullet journal.
Are your goals SMART?
The key to goal setting is to make them SMART. Each goal has to pass the SMART test. Is it:
- Specific. ‘Earn more’ is a bit wishy washy. How much more do you want to earn a month? And how?
- Measurable. This is easier with some goals (like earnings or blog traffic) than it is with others (increase happiness with more self-care), but it is possible. With examples like the latter, measure how you feel now, against how you felt before on a scale of 1-10.
- Achievable. Can you do it? It would lovely to earn that glorified ‘six figures’ but is it possible if you’re only working a day a week on a low fee? Make sure the goal is achieveable. Clue: This is why we break down goals into steps, to make them more achievable.
- Relevant. Does it feed into your main goals? How will this goal improve your life? Sometimes, we create freelance goals based on what we feel we should do, rather than what we want to do or could do. Make sure this is YOUR goal, and that it’s reasonable and realistic.
- Time-based. Set yourself a deadline! The clearer your deadlines are, the more likely you are to achieve a goal.
Step 4: Do you need accountability?
This is a genuine question. Not everyone needs accountability. 2016 was the year that I realised that, as a Questioner on Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies quiz (you can find the link to it here if you want to know what you are), accountability can actually take the wind out of my sales, and sometimes quietly working on a project for a while first can work better. Consider whether getting accountability on a goal will help or hinder you. If you do want accountability, make sure you’re in my Facebook group, which you can join by signing up to the newsletter, where we do an accountability thread every Monday morning.
Step 5: Don’t forget to celebrate the wins
This is incredibly important. How often do you jump from goal to goal, never really celebrating the wins and feeling a bit…meh? Celebrating a win is as important as setting a goal, and brings closure and joy to the task. Here are a few ways you can celebrate:
- An hour or two off work to binge watch Netflix/meet a friend for lunch/read
- Done really well in a meeting? One of my favourite celebration suggestions is Emma-Louise Trotter’s suggestion of taking yourself off to a nice wine bar and ordering a glass of fizz.
- Take a long bath filled with your favourite treats
- If it’s a biggie, treat yourself to that tech you’ve had your eye on. Don’t forget, if it’s for your business, you can add it to your expenses
- Oh hi there pretty dress! Go buy that perfect dress you pinned to your treat list on Pinterest (if you don’t have a treat list on Pinterest, I highly recommend getting on).
- Share it online!
Step 6: Check in with your goals regularly
As part of my Miracle Morning routine, I check my Goals Pinterest board daily and my Trello board to plan out my day. It’s important to check in regularly, whether it’s daily or weekly, to keep you focused and on deadline. It’s particularly important on those days when imposter syndrome kicks in, or when you’ve got low energy. If you’ve broken your goals down into small, bite size tasks, there should be small tasks you can slot in each day, so you’re moving closer to your goals every day.
- The Awesome Marketing Planner (affiliate) is my favourite planner for all my marketing and social media freelance goals.
- If improving your health is one of your goals, Laura at Wholeheartedly Healthy has some great tips (I love her suggestion of swapping the term ‘goal’ for ‘intention’ if the former makes you feel icky).
- If self-care is a priority, I’ve got a post coming up on that! But I really like the Blurt’s Buddy Boxes for reminding me to take time out to look after myself.
- Curious about how to use Trello for your business? Here’s a quick overview of how I use it.
- Want to know more about what drives you? You can catch my free podcast series on Transactional Drivers for freelancers (those mind monkeys that kick in when you’re feeling stressed) and how you can use them to your advantage.
- If learning is your bag, I have a bunch of free e-courses right here for freelancers.
So, those are my top tips for creating and sticking to your freelance goals. Do you have any suggestion to add?