A New Approach to Setting Goals… Forget the Goals

Posted: January 21st, 2011

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?

Death By Pixels, PHP and 13 point Georgia

Posted: October 19th, 2010

Photo by Tim Barton (Flickr)

RSS readers watch out. The Freelance Rant is back from a raging vacation. Alright, I mean I have time to write now.

I had an interesting conversation with a colleague and good friend of mine after a while of not seeing each other due to our busy schedules. Typically, our conversations are about the usual… work. I vomit up leftovers of programming drivel and he burps up the latest of the 24 column 960 pixel standard layout standard.

Not that we mean to bore each other or that we are sick of each other. We work a lot. We work hard.

We just may be a little too drunk in our work for our own good though.

It therefore surprised me that my friend didn’t as much mention CSS, pixels or anything related to the digitized world for that matter.

He couldn’t stop talking about his new hobby, Legos.

I was actually quite fascinated by this. I remember having a huge Lego collection as a kid and pondered why I didn’t have any today. They are obviously still around and there is no shame in mature adults toying around with them.

Or in more appropriate words, as my friend put it, “I needed to escape from the pixels.”

After picturing these giant, scary pixel monsters chasing my friend around and having a laugh, reality set in. They chase me around, too, along with the PHP and CSS ghosts. Those bastards! No wonder how some of my precious sleep has been lost to dreaming about work at night.

Hell, I’m not going to cave in to them like Scrooge. I’m making a beeline to the other side, also known as getting my ass up from my desk and doing something else that doesn’t involve rearranging zeros and ones.

Checked the Wikipedia and looks like the word hobby isn’t extinct yet. Strike one against those monsters.

Backtracking a bit, in my own work, I usually find myself enduring periods of what I like to refer as “manic depressive.” In one month, everything clicks, a lot of works get done and I manage to grow my business some. Then in another month, I go through the motions and get the work done caring less about what I do.

You can call it cycles of motivation with burnout here but there seems to be one common element in all this: the computer and the fact I rarely leave it to do anything else.

Hey, I’m passionate about my work but, if ghosts are chasing me around in my sleep, then that can’t be healthy for me. I’m pretty sure, though, that I’m not the only one being chased by the ghosts of web dev hell (or writing hell, graphic design hell… you get the picture).

So see you later. Off to the store now for my own set of Legos.

The One Single Quote That Still Keeps The Focus

Posted: August 13th, 2009

Photo by Johnny (The Freelance Rant)

Photo by Johnny (The Freelance Rant)

Maybe you can relate, but if you had ever worked in a sales position or freelanced, then at some point or another you had selected motivational quotes posted on the walls of your room to keep up the moral. Or worse, you had one of those motivational posters with the eagle and some kind of bullshit words of wisdom below it.

For myself, those motivational quotes tended to lose their luster over time to the point where they might as well have been the actual paint on the wall. I mean there was always the cycle of glancing at the quotes, pepping yourself up a bit then forgetting about them by the time you are working. Seemed logical to not waste my time and bother reading them.

That is until I read a quote several months ago from Newt Gingrich, a U.S. Representative:

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

I don’t know how many times since then I stopped working, thought about that very quote and put in an extra hour or two. Today those extra hours added up and are starting to pay off dividends in personal projects I have in process and other goals I am working towards in my freelance career.

And yet I find it hard to believe that, after all of the quotes I’ve read and liked then gotten bored of, there is actually one that I still follow word for word. Maybe it helped that I didn’t do it the disservice of posting it on my wall but, instead, put it in a file on my computer in case I forgot it. I haven’t yet.

You may or may not find the quote above useful or interesting. It really isn’t the point of this post anyway. Although, after the influence it had on me, I dont’ mind sharing it with everyone. Somewhere out there, like the perfect significant other, there is some saying or quote from an ex-president or Ben Franklin that will hit it home for you.

Just do it justice and keep it in your mind, heart and off the walls of your room.