How Can Freelancers Set Goals That They’ll Actually Accomplish?

As a writer who runs a freelancing business, I rely on goals to get things accomplished.

But not all goals are created equally. Believe it or not, it’s really easy to set wrong or ineffective goals for ourselves.

How Can Freelancers Set Goals That They’ll Actually Accomplish?

How do we tell the difference? How do we know what goals to set for maximum results?

The goals that are most likely to be accomplished are the ones that align with your business as well as your personality.

Not only do they have to make sense to your business or your clients, but they have to match up to who you are as a person.

Believe it or not, it’s really easy to set wrong or ineffective goals for ourselves.

For example, if you know you have no energy to work after 7:00 at night, then logically you aren’t going to schedule any client work after that time because you won’t be at your optimal performance.

Yet, how often have we scheduled ourselves into corners just like that? We make this mistake because we’re not paying enough attention to our habits, lifestyles, moods, or other “real-world self” traits that play big roles in our careers and businesses.

How do you know if you need to restructure your current goal-setting strategy?

  • Do you have trouble keeping track of your goals?
  • Do you end the day without accomplishing everything on your list?
  • Are you easily distracted?
  • Do you feel unfocused, overwhelmed, disillusioned, exhausted, frustrated?
  • Are your goals vague and unclear?
  • Do you want to do things better/faster/easier?
  • Is prioritizing tasks/goals difficult for you?

If you answered “YES” to any of the above questions, then restructuring your current goal-setting system might be right for you.
Let’s dive in further.

At the foundation of any strong goal-setting system are SMART goals.

S – Specific

Goals that are clear, well-defined, and answer most, if not all, of the five “W” questions: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.

  • Who else will be involved?
  • What is the goal?
  • Where will this take place?
  • When will the goal be achieved?
  • Why is this goal important?

M – Measurable

Measurable goals help you track your progress and also can let you know if you need to reassess. For many goals, you can repeat the 5 “W” questions here to figure out if your process is successful. Sometimes we set quality goals, but fail in our efforts to achieve the goal. This is a great place to make sure you are taking effective, actionable steps to fulfill your goal-setting system.

A – Attainable

Your goal needs to be attainable, otherwise it will backfire. Setting something beyond the scope of your ability, resources, time, or knowledge will only lead to frustration. If it’s not attainable, that doesn’t mean you fuhgeddaboudit!

Just back up, set smaller goals that act like stepping stones to this harder-to-reach goal. Once you complete those smaller goals, that once-evasive goal is now yours for the taking.

R – Relevant

A relevant goal is one that makes sense as you develop your system and consider your personality traits, habits, values, and moods. It has to be worthwhile and should connect in some way to at least another goal.

If it’s a stand-alone goal, meaning, if it really has nothing to do with anything else you’re trying to accomplish, then ask yourself how you can make it matter more. If you can’t, then maybe it isn’t the right (relevant) goal for you at this time.

An example of a relevant goal would be to land three new clients this month to help build your clientele list.

An example of a stand-alone goal would be to read 50 books this year because that’s what your sister is doing.

T – Time-Based

Assigning dates and times (deadlines) can allow you to schedule days, weeks, or months in advance. Knowing when certain goals are supposed to be accomplished will also help you in scheduling other goals so you don’t overburden yourself with too many big goals all at one time. Deadlines keep you on task, especially when you have multiple smaller goals to manage simultaneously.

S.M.A.R.T. goals are just the beginning.

Use specific “I” statements with clear-cut cause/effect so that you will respond and act. Modifications will be made from goal to goal depending on what you need to accomplish, how quickly it needs to be accomplished, and why.

5 Tips to Create Goals You’ll Actually Accomplish

1. Positivity

You’ll catch more flies with honey. You’re SO much more likely to work toward a goal when there is a positive spin to it. Sure, getting paid by a client is positive. But there are goals that aren’t dependent on clients, such as promoting your biz or updating your website.

Those goals might need a bit of sweetening to them.

TIP: Reward yourself for accomplishing a goal.

2. Assess Progress Every Day

Long-term goals or especially difficult goals can be easily lost in the busy-ness of Life. When you set yourself reminders or check-ins every day, you can catch yourself in the act of doing well or doing not so well.

This also helps you figure out if you’ve set the bar too high, ultimately giving you a chance to readjust so that you don’t fail meeting the goal altogether.

TIP: Record your progress with a journal or photos. The tangible evidence will keep you honest!

3. Express Your Goals

Colleagues are a built-in accountability squad. They’ll ask how things are going with your goals, if you need help, or if you need to vent.

TIP: Get an accountability partner and hold weekly check-ins.

4. Back-Up Your Goal

Have a plan B. If things fall through on your original goal, you can resort to your back-up plan and still check something off your list.

TIP: Batching social media posts, organizing computer files/folders, updating that website are all great plan B tasks.

5. Daily Steps to a Long-Term Goal

I think we all have huge goals we’d love to see to fruition. Taking one little step every single day is a game-changer. Doesn’t matter what Day One is, just so long as you always take one action step.

TIP: Start a private Pinterest board and collect images related to your Impossible Dream.

Here are my two cents I plop down anytime I offer business advice: Regardless of where you are in your career, be sure that you redesign and re-imagine recommended tools and ideas to fit you and your needs.

Business advice is NOT a one size fits all.

Play with options until you design something that’s ALL YOUR OWN. You’re more likely to stick with goals that are your creation anyway!

Hey there, writer! I’m Kate Johnston — story coach, writing coach, editor, author, and BWR (Backyard Wildlife Rescuer). Why not sign up for my FREE writing workshop, How to Fill Your Creative Well! If you have trouble finding story ideas or you hit writer’s blocks, this amazing workshop will help you learn how to find sources of inspiration so that you’re a better & happier writer.

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