A New Approach to Setting Goals… Forget the Goals

Posted: January 21st, 2011

Photo by BazaarBizarreSF (Flickr)

Photo by BazaarBizarreSF (Flickr)

Another January rolls around and it’s the same thing over again. Reflect on the previous year, figure out what you accomplished and what you didn’t quite get to yet. Then set some goals and see where those lead to.

Pretty much the same for years on end.

Of course it’s important to have a yearly audit of your own business and find ways to improve. That, however, usually happens without even realizing it. Call this trial and error with a bit of growing up.

Then there comes the list of goals…  somewhat completed by the end of the year. Unless you can say you gave your absolute best effort into trying to achieve every last one of them, though, it would be hard to call it a success. More like somewhat of a success.

But, in my opinion, that translates into somewhat of a successful person, not exactly something to inspire to.

Well, my approach changed. Actually it’s been changed for the last several months and results, which carried over into the new year, have been surprising. So what is it?

Take care of yourself physically. Sounds simple but that requires change which isn’t so easy. But we are looking for change, are we not?

My take is that if you are sitting at your desk behind a computer for numerous hours on end then you need to be alert, motivated and ready for the long haul of a day. You can call it training for a daily freelancing marathon if you will.

One thing I realized is that, no matter how you think your own work is routine, if you are not at your best physically, then there is no way you can accomplish everything you want to in a day. Hence the somewhat success that results.

By no means am I a health expert but ask yourself a few questions.

Are you getting too little rest (or too much)? See what a full 7 – 8 hours of sleep a day has on your productivity. Not a minute more or less. Waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day also cures the oversleeping blues.

Are you getting enough exercise? I don’t need to repeat here anything you haven’t already heard before. Get out… break out that dusty gym card, walk around the neighborhood or bike to the next city. Whatever it takes to break a sweat and make a habit out of it.

Are you eating healthy? OK, I’d be a hypocrite if I said I still followed a completely healthy diet but at least try swapping some of that junk food for fruits and veggies. You’d be surprised how much of an effect unhealthy eating has on your energy levels throughout the day and the positive effect natural foods have on them.

These may all sound simple but it takes some time to really believe in them and make a part of your lifestyle. But if the end result means your productivity goes up and a few more of those New Year’s resolutions get done this year, isn’t it worth it?

I Know It’s Still January, But Have Your Goals Taken A Detour Already?

Posted: January 20th, 2010

Photo by Spiicytuna (Flickr)

Photo by Spiicytuna (Flickr)

I had one of the best starts to the new year I’ve ever had in my life. Of course, I had a list of my goals as a freelancer, but I went further to write out a plan of attack that went flawlessly that first week.

Then week two came by and, as the old saying goes, shit happened (unrelated to work by the way).

Normally some kind of event that distracts you from your work would be an end to your goals. After all, you have to deal with a challenge while trying to get that work done in the meantime. By the time the challenge passes you are already busy catching up to the work and returning to your normal work cycle and you eventually forget those goals.

So it’s time to save them again for next year? Well, not if you plan it right.

I’d love to share the challenge I was having but it strays from the point of this post. Let’s just say it was very distracting. Anyway, I’m still on top of my goals for the year and I’ll share my ways of sticking to them without taking a permanent detour.

View Your Goals Like A Project

Your goals as a freelancer are very important in order to give you a direction and motivate you to grow into the freelancer and even the person you want to be.

Your work and projects are also important to keep the hot ramen noodles coming daily on the dinner table.

If you don’t see your goals as a freelancer as equally as important as your work then you might be content with ramen noodles everyday rather than a nice juicy prime rib to go with those hot ramen noodles.

In other words, working on your goals are a huge project with a one-year deadline.

What could be the financial outcome to you by completing them?

Set Aside an Hour A Day Towards Working On Your Goals

All of us have an hour to spare during the day. OK, maybe it’s harder for freelancers to spare that hour but the truth is we all can somewhere. Sometimes we may even have to work that extra hour on top of all the work we have.

Consider this. If you worked on your goals an hour day, that’s 365 hours a year (I know, math expert). Imagine what you can do or learn in that time. Do you think you’ll be able grow in your freelance career?

If you want to get anywhere in life, not just freelancing, you have to work hard. And not just the typical eight hours a day, five days a week. Sometimes that means burning the candle on both ends. It is hard but I like to refer to a quote that keeps me motivated to work those extra hours:

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.”
- Newt Gingrich

Also, it isn’t always easy to stick to an hour a day routine but you can easily stick to a 7 hours a week one. If that means working weekends, well, take it from Newt and do it.

Realize That You May Not Get To All of Your Goals

Hey, sometimes our list of goals is like a huge plate of hot ramen noodles. We may be hungry as hell but we can’t finish the entire plate.

As far as I know, there are still only 24 hours in a day and there probably won’t be enough time to accomplish everything you set out to achieve.

Dont’ stress it. It happens and is quite normal. This is definitely not a reason to get down on yourself if your goal list isn’t being checked off as fast as you like.

Just as long as you are progressing in your goals, that’s all that matters. Keep to the hour a day rule, though, OK?

Don’t Let A Setback Throw You Off

Sure you may stumble into a roadblock that derails you from working towards you goals.

Sometimes the hour a day rule will have to be broken.

But remember your goals are as important as your work. If any kind of setback occurs, of course, get the work back on track but don’t hesitate in getting back to those goals either. Go even one step further and work the overtime needed to get your goals back on track.

Remember goals=year long project.

* * *

How do you keep to your goals as a freelancer?

Have you had any kind of challenges that interrupted pursuing them and what did you do about it?

What flavor of hot ramen noodles do you like the best?

Leave a comment below. I want to hear your responses!

Freelance In 40 Days [Day 4]: Create Your Business Plan

Posted: August 27th, 2009

Photo by Gurdonark (Flickr)

Photo by Gurdonark (Flickr)

This is Day 4 of the Freelance in 40 Days series where you’ll learn to freelance just by taking it one day and one task at a time. Today’s tutorial will take you through setting goals for your freelance business and forming them into a personal business plan.

Alright, Time For The Business Plan!

You’ve probably noticed so far that we aren’t getting into the meat and potatoes of freelancing just yet. You know, learning how to find freelance work then getting your ass out there and finding it. Don’t worry though. We’ll get to that soon enough. The goal early on is to define your purpose and goals and document them to do two things:

  1. Mentally prepare yourself for the challenge that lies ahead of you.
  2. Create something concrete to look back on to sustain that focus while starting out.

Yesterday in Day 3, you created a USP which is your purpose as a freelancer. So today we’ll define your goals and put them together as a business plan.

If I didn’t scare you off already, we are not going to cover how to create a 100 page, professionally written and printed, with hundreds of neat little charts type of novel. This will be one be your own personal  document which you can refer back to chart the progress of your freelance business.

While not essential for freelancing, it helps immensely to know right from the beginning where you want to be down the road. Plus, it helps to check back periodically to see if you are on your way there.

The Personal Business Plan

Since we are essentially compiling and organizing your goals as a freelancer, creating your own personal business plan isn’t as hard as it sounds. All it takes is setting aside some time to really think hard about how you want your freelance business to be. This can be broken down into four parts:

  • Business Goals: What do you envision for your freelance business? How about growing a certain percentage every three months or designing and developing 15 websites in the next year? Better yet, close your eyes and describe exactly what you see yourself doing as a freelancer a year from now.
  • Business Values: Some examples of business values are honesty and integrity, along with delivering the highest quality work possible and providing unmatched service to your clients. What are values that you will have that will allow you to grow and prosper in your freelance business?
  • Income Goals: What is your ideal income for the year as a freelancer? Don’t get carried away here, but don’t sell yourself short either.
  • Expenses: It is very important, as well, to have expense goals as a freelancer. After all, you don’t want to spend more than you earn. What is your budget for business expenditures or, if your planning on full-time freelancing, what will you budget for expenses each month?

Now don’t get me wrong about this business plan. This is not a do or die mission nor set in concrete. We are simply writing down your goals, expectations and values to use as a starting point so we have something to aim for. You may or may not even reach the goals you set. If you don’t happen to reach them, it doesn’t mean you suck and its the time to call it quits.

Sometimes you will have set a target too high to reach. Say that your target income will not quite reach the number you predicted. All that is needed is simply to adjust your goals to be more achievable. The key to goals is to make them a challenge but within reach and make adjustments when needed so they do not appear unattainable.

Your Homework For Today

Create a business plan outlined above. Write it in pen and paper or use Word and print it out so you have easy access to it later. Don’t skip this task, either (I’m watching). Your commitment to freelancing will reflect in what is contained in this document.

Also, don’t just let it sit there collecting coffee stains and ashes. Take a look at it once in while. Make adjustments and print it out again, if necessary.