So, you want to be a freelancer.
But– it’s time to get more specific about what you want to do.
When it comes to reaching your goals, part of what influences if you accomplish them is how you go about setting them.
Here are three things not to do when it comes to goals:
- Set it and forget it. Goal setting is not like setting your daily alarm or recording your favorite show on DVR. When you come up with goals and then lose sight of them on a regular basis, you probably won’t reach them.
- Think big without planning the small stuff. You can have big goals (like leaving your 9-5), but you need to have plans for how you get there. We’ll get to that next.
- Create a goal without a deadline. Freelancers are familiar with deadlines. Your goals need them too. Otherwise, you run the risk of putting things off or trying to get to where you want to go too soon. That goal of leaving your 9-5? If you don’t consider, realistically, when you want to make that happen, you might stall and stay longer than you need to, or you may jump ship without a plan.
So what should you do when it comes to setting goals? Here are nine tips to help you reach your goals:
1. Be clear about what you want to accomplish.
It’s important to know what your actual goals are when you’re creating them.
Are you working towards having six paid writing jobs a week? Maybe you’re trying to make a certain amount of money each month through your writing? Or perhaps your goals are related to where you want to be hired to work.
If you’re vague or unclear when it comes to your goals, you probably won’t stick with it very long.
2. Break your long-term goals down into short-term goals.
Your short-term goals are the roadmap to get you to where you want to be: your long-term goals.
If your goal is to leave your 9-5 by June, 2018, then you need to know what you have to accomplish each month to get there.
Perhaps your short-term goals include ideas like setting up an online portfolio, pitching a certain number of sites per week, and building up your network. It’s working towards, and accomplishing, these goals that move you toward your long-term goal.
3. Set daily goals.
It’s not enough to have long-term and short-term goals.
You also need to know what you’re going to do each day to accomplish your goals; these are often considered our daily tasks. The amount of time you have and the other responsibilities going on will influence how many tasks you can do each day to work toward your goals.
You might be working on several goals at a time, and that’s normal.
For example, if you have three articles you’re working on, your daily goals might include an outline for one, an edit of another, and finalizing and submitting the third with an invoice. In addition, you could also be working toward the long-term goal of being a full-time freelancer by spending time updating your online portfolio.
4. Write your goals down.
It’s not enough to simply think about your goals.
Yes, we can still accomplish things if we don’t write them down, but we give ourselves a better chance of accomplishing our goals when we write them down.
Write down your long-term, short-term, and daily goals.
This process also helps you see ahead of time if there are any gaps in how you’ll accomplish your goal.
For example, you may want to have a certain amount of money saved before you leave your full-time job. By mapping out your goals, you may realize you need more time, for example, to save that amount; when you plan in this way you can avoid some of the challenges that can come along while you work toward your goals.
5. Keep your goals front and center.
Once you have your goals are written down (or typed out), make sure you see them.
Tape that sheet to your mirror, or make your phone’s wallpaper your current goal. Set reminders on your phone and add your daily goal to wherever you track your daily tasks.
It’s not enough to just make the plan: you need to keep it front and center.
It’s like when you take a trip: you probably use navigation. But, if you put in the destination and then turn down the volume and ignore the screen, you may not get to where you want to.
6. Expect challenges.
Even with planning ahead and knowing what you need to do to reach your goals, getting there can still be a challenge.
Not only do you have to work toward your goals, and that on its own can be hard, but also, things can get in the way. If your goal is to write a novel in addition to your regular freelance work (and maybe another job), you’ll likely have to make sacrifices with your time, struggle through challenges like writer’s block, and maybe deal with setbacks like getting sick.
You might struggle with your own negative voice or have an influx of work that makes it hard to work on other goals. Know that there will be hard moments as you work toward your goals.
Don’t give up.
7. Hold yourself accountable (get a buddy if you need to).
As a freelancer, you may do a lot of work on your own. It’s important to be able to hold yourself accountable to the goals that you have set.
If you find that you’re not checking off those daily goals or you’re continuing to push deadlines you created, it may be time to get an accountability partner.
Though some people shy away from sharing their goals with others, having someone to help hold you accountable can make it that much more likely you’ll reach your goals.
If you’re in a mastermind group, pair up with someone for daily or weekly check-ins, or team up with a friend for regular accountability checks (this person can be in a completely different industry than you, but it’s helpful if they’re working on some goals too).
Choose someone who will encourage you, help you stay on track, and motivate you during the challenging times.
8. Be willing to adjust.
Sometimes people have a misconception that goals are set in stone once they’re created.
I repeat: they’re not.
Even if you’ve written them down or told people, you can still change or adjust them.
Because goals can be too hard (or sometimes we don’t challenge ourselves enough), and because life happens, it’s important that we’re willing to adjust our goals. If you get behind on a goal, adjust to give yourself more time; if you are struggling with a daily goal, like writing an hour a day, maybe start smaller with 30 minutes.
The worst thing we can do is to simply stop working toward our goals; instead, adjust so that you can keep moving forward.
9. Put in the work at the beginning.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into setting goals.
But here’s the thing, you’re doing the work up front, to help you save yourself time and frustration along the way. Taking the time to set your goals well doesn’t guarantee you’ll get there, but it does give you a better chance when you use these ideas.
It’s time to take action on your goals
Now that you’ve got nine strategies to help you accomplish your goals, what are you waiting for? Set an appointment with yourself to plan out the goal(s) you want to work on and how you’ll get there.
And, when you’ve reached them, don’t forget to share with us so we can post your story on the Wall of Wins!