Now that you know what well-crafted goals look like, let’s jump into some tips to help make your goal setting effective and ultimately achieve those goals.
Start Setting Goals Right Now
If you haven’t set any goals yet, you should do so right away. Don’t wait until your current project is finished or until the end of the year. It’s fine to only be able to set very short-term goals. You’ll be better off if you set goals as soon as possible.
Build and Maintain Your Habit
You want setting goals to become a habit that you do without thinking. It takes 66 days to make a new habit, so you should start practicing as soon as you can. At first, you’ll have to do it often, even when you don’t think you need a goal.
For example, if you like to answer emails first thing in the morning, tell yourself. Since you would have done it anyway, this helps you think about work in terms of goals. In time, you’ll find yourself making quick mental goals automatically.
Focus on What You Can Control
We are only in charge of ourselves. We can have an effect on other people and events, but we can’t make them happen. Setting goals that need the help of other people is a surefire way to fail. It’s discouraging to fail at your goals often, so it’s better to set goals that are hard but still possible to reach.
For example, let’s say you wanted to promote yourself by being a guest on ten podcasts. In the end, you can’t make a podcast invite you to their show against their will. You can’t do anything about that. But you can choose how many podcasts you contact and offer to be a guest on.
It’s easy to forget your own goals when you work alone. After all, there’s no one to tell you off when you fail or push you along when you’re not making progress. This is a benefit for people who work on a team, but people who work alone have to make it for themselves.
Sharing your goals with a friend can make it more likely that you’ll reach them. This person should ideally be another freelancer who knows what you do. Send each other an email or a shared Google Doc with your goals. Meet every month for a short time to talk about your goals.
Prioritize Your Goals Based on Value
Once you make it a habit to set goals, you’ll find it easy to come up with new ones. You’ll think of them all the time. You’ll probably make so many goals that you won’t have enough time to finish many of them. In situations like this, the best thing to do is to rank your goals by how much they help your business.
For example, finding new clients is directly related to how well you do as a freelancer. Getting more followers on Twitter could also affect how well you do as a freelancer, but not as much as getting new clients. As your career goes on, so does what “value” means to you. When you first start freelancing, the most important thing you can do is find clients.
Make Sure Your Goals are Achievable
We’ve already talked about making goals that you can reach, but this point needs more explanation. Many freelancers with a positive outlook set goals that are good-natured but hard or even impossible to reach. If you do this, you will always fail and lose motivation.
Setting goals is meant to keep you on track and put a little pressure on your progress so that you are always moving forward. But a goal won’t make your day longer or put money in your bank account. You might find it helpful to write down why each goal is important to you.
Try Using Technology/Apps
It’s fine to write down your goals in a Doc or on a piece of paper, but when you’re busy, it’s easy to forget them. An app that helps you set goals is on your phone, so you always have it with you. It keeps you on track and lets you know when you need to do something. They also add game-like elements that can make it fun to work toward your goals.
You should also use a time-tracking app like Timing to help you keep track of how your goals are coming along. This tool will let you know how you spend your time. So, your work will be in line with your goals.
Reward Yourself for Good Performance
It’s not a secret that it’s hard to stay motivated at work if the reward or punishment isn’t close. The deadline for tomorrow is easy to keep in mind, but this year’s sales goal is too vague to be worth your attention. Setting up a reward system for reaching your goals is a simple and effective way to stay on track. Find something you enjoy and give it to yourself as a reward.
Your goals will determine how you give out your rewards. If you reach a big macro-goal, you might decide to give yourself one big reward. You could also give yourself small rewards when you reach each of your small goals. Pick the method that will get you moving the most.
If you want to be a successful freelancer, you need to start thinking about the future right now. Setting goals helps you make plans and move your growth forward. If you don’t have goals, it will be hard to build a business that will last. Use the ideas in this article to make both big and small goals that are SMART.