Most of us know we could achieve more with our freelance businesses if we set goals.
But too few of us really know how to set goals.
Let me share an imaginary conversation.
I mention to a friend that I’d like to live in Hawaii one day.
“Is that a goal you have?” he asks.
“Sure it is,” I say. “I’d love that.”
Six months later, he asks me, “Have you made any progress with the move to Hawaii?”
“Not really,” I reply.
In fact, I have done nothing.
How come? Is it because I wouldn’t like to live in Hawaii? Is it because I can’t see myself living there?
It’s because I didn’t have it as a goal. It was simply a desire, a dream, a wish. I thought it was a goal, but it wasn’t.
You could probably tell a similar story from your own life. Maybe there are things you would love to do, or places you would love to be. These are things you would genuinely like. But, none have ever happened.
So, if having a goal makes the difference between just wanting something and actually achieving it, what makes a true goal so different?
Element 1: When you set a goal, you make an absolute commitment to achieve it.
This isn’t about just wanting something, or just hoping for something. Setting a goal will make no difference to your business or your life … unless you commit to it absolutely.
You have to be able to see it clearly in your mind, and know that you will achieve it.
It has to be important to you. You have to believe in it. It also has to be aligned with your personal values.
In a very real sense, you don’t look for a goal, you find your goal.
Finding your goal means exploring a number of different options until you find the one that truly resonates with you, at every level.
To find potential candidates, ask yourself questions:
- What kind of freelance work would I like to be doing a year from now?
- What kinds of products or services would I really like to write about?
- What kinds of clients would I like to be working with?
- What kind of marketing approach feels right for me? Do I want to quietly attract clients, staying in the background? Or, do I want to step into the limelight and, a year from now, be viewed as a public guru in my field?
Ask yourself endless questions, and frame them in such a way that you are always imagining where you will be a year from now, or three years from now.
Keep doing this until you find your goal — something you can get behind and truly commit to. Something about which you feel no doubt. Something that makes you feel you are already there in your mind.
Element 2: Without a clear path of waypoints, every worthwhile goal is unattainable.
If my dream to live in Hawaii were truly a goal, I would have a plan or roadmap in place.
I would list all the things I would need to do in order to make the move. I would also create a timeline, because some of the things on my to-do list would have to follow a particular sequence.
For example, I wouldn’t be ready to buy a house until I had done some research on residency laws. Nor would I book a moving service before knowing the exact day I was moving.
A goal is not something you magically arrive at. It is at the end of a path, or road.
And along that road, there are milestones — like checking those residency laws.
If you want to achieve your goal for this year, or for a few years ahead, you need to know where you are going, and also have a roadmap, with your milestones in place.
But, what if you can’t find or see a viable pathway, or any milestones?
Well, if that happens, you need to review your goal. Because if there is no clear road to achieving the goal, you will more than likely never get there.
Element 3: You have to live and track your goal, every day.
If I were really planning to move to Hawaii, I would have a long to-do list. I would also mark the timeline on a calendar, and check my progress.
If you have a real goal, and you are going to achieve it, you need to do the same.
You need to list all the steps you’ll need to take, and how you will be taking them. And, you’ll be checking this list against your calendar, every day, to ensure that everything is moving ahead, and on time.
Again, if you don’t do this, then you’re really not serious about achieving your goal. Like my talk about Hawaii, it’s just a wish, a desire, a nice idea.
Summing up …
Most goals are never achieved, because freelancers don’t take them seriously. They are like New Year’s Resolutions — here today, and forgotten tomorrow.
If you want to really move forward with your business this year, you need to find your goal, figure out all the waypoints between where you are now and where you plan to get to, and then track your progress day by day.
Do any less and you’ll be like me and Hawaii.
Nice idea. But never going to happen.