New Year’s Resolutions Anonymous
by Jake Poinier
As we approach the end of the year, I’m reminded that I’ve never been a fan of making New Year’s resolutions. In principle, it’s a grand idea to set a mark of losing weight, exercising more, marketing more actively, or kicking bad habits. The reality of running a freelance business, however, is that January is already busy and stressful enough. If your pattern is anything like mine, the first business day of the year is greeted by an ER full of clients with to-do lists that need immediate triage.
Now, don’t misinterpret what I’m saying: Just because I don’t do resolutions in January doesn’t mean they don’t get done. For me, the better time to take stock in my business is during the relatively less busy time in and around late December. By then, the pre-holiday rush has pretty much abated; in addition, the financial figures are pretty well closed on the previous 12 months, and I can see what worked and what didn’t in my freelance business.
I believe it’s important not to overthink things, and give yourself the freedom to dump ideas on a page without judging them. For me, it’s key to get away from the home office and head to a local coffee shop without any of my electronics. All I want is a pen, a blank pad of paper, and a couple of distraction-free hours to brainstorm.
Everyone has their own theory about on how to motivate themselves, but I prefer to keep it simple. I also focus on making this a six-month plan, even if some longer-term items end up on the list:
- What do I want to achieve? How much do I want to make this year? How many new clients should I shoot for? What new industries might be good to market my writing to? What’s the next book topic I want to tackle? I also incorporate regular-life objectives in here, like a vacation I want to take, a skill I want to learn, or a home project I need to complete (like painting the hallway ceiling I re-drywalled after the last monsoon leak).
- What will those achievements look and feel like? I’m a big believer in the power of visualization — if it’s good enough for professional athletes, why not use it in business, too? So for each of those goals, I close my eyes and picture what I feel like once I’ve accomplished it.
With the brainstorm committed to paper, I’ll type up my list and attach it in a prominent place on the wall. That way, I see my goals every time I sit down at the desk; it’s also a reminder to visualize them repeatedly and often, and to establish plans of action to bring specific items to reality. In June, it’ll be time to do another full assessment, and see how close I came to my six-month goals — and, yes, take a few hours to brainstorm the goals to take me through the second half of the year.
Jake “Dr. Freelance” Poinier blogs regularly on freelancing topics at DearDrFreelance.com. He is the author of The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid, available in print and ebook versions on Amazon.