To be a successful freelance writer, you must have clear goals for your writing business and the other important areas of your life.
3 Reasons Why Goals Are Important for Freelance Writers
1. Goals Provide Energy and Motivation
When you know what you want to accomplish, why you want to accomplish it, and how you will accomplish it, you’ll be primed to do what’s necessary to reach your goals as soon as possible. You’ll feel more energetic and your brain will focus directly on what you need to do.
For example, if one of your high-priority goals is to write a high-quality book on a certain subject, finish it by a certain date, and then get it published, you’ll find that your desire to have it completed will give you the fuel and fire you need to get it done.
2. Goals Guide Your Activities
When you have clear goals, you’ll always have good guidelines for what you should do: you’ll know what is the best use of your time at any moment. Your goals guide your minutes and hours, your days and weeks, your months and years.
3. Goals Help You Adjust and Learn
As you pursue your goals, you’ll learn better ways to achieve what you want more quickly, or your goals may shift over time. You’ll also have to accommodate to new information and new circumstances.
Having an initial set of goals and action plans provides you with a blueprint for what you want; you can always adjust both the goals and plans as you move through life.
How Not Having Goals Hurts You
If you aren’t clear on what you want to do, whether with your writing career, your health, or your relationships with family and friends, you will likely choose the easiest and most expedient actions, not the ones you need to do to reach your full potential. You’ll wander from one idea to another, bringing very few to completion. You’ll squander time and energy, make less money, and get less fulfillment from life.
On a very practical level, you need to know where you want to go in life; otherwise you’ll drift aimlessly.
Make SMART Goals for Your Freelance Writing Business and the Rest of Your Life
Most good goals are SMART:
You must clearly state exactly what you want. The more clarity you have in formulating your goals, the more likely you are to reach them.
You must have ways to measure your progress toward attaining your goals. For a freelance writing goal, it can be finishing two articles a week, or contacting ten editors/potential clients a week. If your goal is to lose weight, you must set a specific number of pounds you want to lose.
You want to set challenging goals, but they must also be realistic goals. If you set a goal that you really don’t think you can reach, you will become discouraged and lose motivation, not only for that goal but likely for other goals as well.
For example, if you set a freelance writing income goal of $20,000 per month starting next month, yet you’ve never made more than $2,000 in a month, your brain will rebel and you may find it very difficult to write anything.
But if you currently make $2,000 per month, an attainable goal could be $3,000 per month at the end of 6 months, and $4000 per month at the end of 12 months. At the end of one year you will have doubled your income.
However, what is a realistic goal for one person may not be a realistic goal for another. Only you know what you are truly capable of, and only you know how badly you want a certain goal and the resources you have — time, skills, money, energy — to devote to reaching a given goal.
You must set goals that are relevant for what you truly desire so you will be strongly committed to your goals.
Your goals should inspire you and make you want to get out of bed each day ready to take on life. Setting boring or unimportant goals that don’t challenge you will leave you listless and unmotivated.
You must set specific deadlines for achieving your goals. Break them down into weekly and monthly sub-goals, and if you have an especially big goal, like a college degree, by year also. Setting definite dates when you will reach a goal or an important goal milestone will keep you focused and motivated.
Also Set Good Process Goals
In addition to good SMART goals, you should also set good process goals. Let’s use your freelance writing business as an example.
Process goals encompass important activities that are crucial for your freelance writing success, but aren’t measured in terms of dollars earned, clients landed, or pieces published.
They include learning important things necessary for your business, such as improving your writing skills or learning new marketing techniques. They also include the attitude you take when working, such as one of relaxed confidence, and also physical aspects such as sitting at the computer with proper posture.
Set Goals for All Areas of Your Life
I’ve focused primarily on your freelance writing business in this post, but you also need goals in all areas of your life, including
- Spouse/life partner
- Personal growth
Need Help Setting and Achieving Goals?
Do you set goals for your writing and your life? If so, have you followed the guidelines I discussed here? What’s been your experience with goal setting and goal achievement?