The New Year is traditionally a time to make resolutions and set new life goals.
Personally, I leave my ‘New Year’ review until spring as January and February are months where ‘holding on’ seems to be a major achievement. Whether it’s a post-Christmas downer, the start of another new year in which, no matter how hard I try to resist, I end up analysing all that I HAVEN’T done or the seemingly endless darkness that, in my case, definitely brings on S.A.D, even if I’m on a positive roll, I always find these months tricky. At least I know myself.
However, if you work freelance, whatever the time of year, it is sensible to undertake regular progress reviews to ensure focus (on productive short- and long-term career pursuits) and to avoid drifting or wasting time on activities that sap your energy and lead nowhere.
As freelances, the onus is on us to set our career direction and evaluate if we’re achieving what we want. This is why it’s worth investing time on devising and planning your goals.
To increase your chances of achieving your goals, using the S.M.A.R.T principle will help. Make your goals:
Clearly define each of your goals so that you have specific targets to aim for. This sounds obvious but how many times have you vaguely thought you’d like to do something in your life but never got around to it? “I want to change” is not a goal – think about exactly what you want to achieve and what actions this will take.
Quantifying your goal ensures that you can assess your achievement levels as you go along and know when you’ve achieved that goal. For example, I want to be rich is too vague while I want to earn £50,000 by the end of 2012 can be measured.
Goals need to be within your reach so that you are motivated enough to commit to achieving them while being challenging enough to change your life in the way that you foresee.
While dreams can come true and you should never be discouraged from aiming high, it’s important to be realistic in both what you’re aiming for and the resources you have to achieve this.
Self-belief, confidence and persistence are all marks of successful people but so is the ability to recognise when you’re aiming for the wrong goal and to re-assess and change direction when necessary. You need to be honest with yourself when setting your goals.
Does the same goal keep appearing on your New Year’s resolution list? If so, setting deadlines is a great way to get and stay motivated.
If you don’t achieve your goal by the set deadline, you can either extend it or re-assess the situation asking yourself if you really want to achieve this goal or is it just a pipe dream that’s diverting your attention from something that you could really achieve.
Being pro-active and taking control of what you can is motivating in itself. It also keeps you focused on what you can do rather than what you can’t which helps build positive momentum.
Remember, being motivated to achieve your goals is a consistent effort in which you will be continually evaluating and adapting what you are doing and sometimes what you want to achieve.