The year is drawing to a close, so it’s time to check in on our 2017 goals and begin planning for 2018. Freelancers lack the external structure of year-end reviews and third-party evaluations, so it falls to each of us individually to ensure we prioritize our growth and development throughout the year. Setting yearly goals is a necessary start, but we can’t just make these goals and let them go: we must build support systems to help us achieve them and evaluate how we can keep improving in the year to come.
So get out your list of 2017 goals and let’s begin!
Congratulate yourself on what you’ve accomplished
From the beginning, 2017 had no shortage of intense political, social, environmental, and humanitarian news stories and, for many of us, the continual stream of it has taken its toll. No matter how hard we try to keep our work lives separate, what’s happening in the world can seep in. This is in addition to whatever personal plans, struggles, or triumphs you experienced. So remember that every step forward is a positive one, give yourself a high five, and celebrate how hard you worked to achieve those goals.
Review how you achieved your goals
Next, review the goals you completed. How did you achieve them? Did you set milestone goals along the way to achieve a large project at the end? Did you set aside time daily or weekly to focus on a specific task or action? Did you reward yourself with small successes to keep your momentum going? These are all steps I take to work toward each of my yearly goals and each has varying degrees of success depending on what I am trying to accomplish. One of my specific goals was to take classes and improve my skills, which required both milestone goals and weekly time to focus on them. I watched the recording of Adrienne Montgomerie’s Word Macros without Tears class, spent hours of self-study with Paul Beverly’s macros and instructions, and planned time with my mastermind group to deepen my understanding and build macros of my own. What worked for you and kept you on task? Write these observations down, fine-tune any steps you need to, and apply them to next year’s goals.
Evaluate the goals you didn’t achieve
Now look at the goals you didn’t complete and think about why. Was one of the goals something new to you that you avoided out of fear? Did you focus so hard on income-earning goals that personal and professional development goals were overlooked? Or did you find yourself drawn to a new path and your goals shifted from your original expectations and planned direction? Often I’ll set a large number of goals for myself, knowing I likely won’t meet them all and thus leaving a goal uncompleted isn’t a loss or a failure. Rather, it is an opportunity to evaluate where my priorities were that year. Did you focus on goals that were important to your business or ones that seemed less stressful to complete? Did you chase goals that scared and excited you or ones that supported self-care routines? Being completely honest with yourself and determining why a goal was left unmet can be an enlightening self-discovery tool and can inform a better goal-setting direction for the next year.
Look at what you can do differently next year
Consider what you have learned by working toward your goals. Reflect on how achieving your goals (or not) influenced your business success and your work–life balance. Determine if you should make your goals more personal or more about your business, more detailed or less. Consider if you should announce some of your goals beyond your support system to create a larger circle of accountability. Think about new ways to celebrate achieving your goals. Take a closer look at anything you feel needs to change and change it.
Part of the joy of freelancing is the ability and freedom to build the businesses and lives we want, and our goals should put us on the path to achieving this. By reviewing how we achieved what we did and why some goals were left uncompleted, we not only learn more about ourselves and what we want in our lives, but we also learn how to get there more efficiently.
Happy 2017, dear editor friends, and here’s to turning our 2018 goals into our list of accomplishments.