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A key to staying motivated is being able to see and measure your progress toward that goal. Let's take a few minutes to figure out what success is to you because it's not the same for everybody. I prepared a worksheet to help you. It's named Goals in the exercise files. It's broken into two parts. The first is a list of common reasons for freelancing. I gave 12 among them; to make more money, to work fewer hours, to do a bigger variety of work, to be able to work wherever you are, and so forth. I also included a few spaces for you to add your own goals.
Start by ranking at least the top three. My main goal was to be free to travel and to work wherever I was. Having a greater variety of work was also important to me, as was having a flexible schedule. When you're done filling it out according to your goals, the things you'll have ranked are still just dreams--that is, vague wishes about the future. The difference between dreams and goals is that goals are specific. So, now we'll move down to the bottom section of the worksheet to make our progress toward those goals measurable.
First, write down today's date. Then figure out the date six months, a year, and two years from now, and write those down too. My number one goal was to be able to travel, and to work from wherever I was. Well, what's needed for that? First, I'd need clients who didn't require me to be in a specific place. Second, I need equipment to work from the road. For me that's a laptop and mobile Internet. I also had one more requirement; to prove to myself that it would all work as expected both in my city and in two other locations.
Altogether, these seem like achievable goals for the first six months, but they're going to take real action to make happen. I might need to buy a new laptop for example, or sign up for a better phone plan. Then I'll need to test it out under conditions that fit in with my travel goals. These are things you might not actually think to do if you don't write them down. But by doing so, you'll be able to make it happen, and you'll get great satisfaction looking back six months from now. The next steps of course would be to fill in the slots for your next two high-ranking goals.
For example, if money is important to you, specify how much you want to make every month starting six months from now. If you want recognition, give examples that would satisfy you. Once you've finalized your six-month goals, repeat the exercise with higher ambitions for a year later and then for two years. Speaking of which, right after writing down all your goals, go to your calendar, and make notes to check in on those dates. And above all, don't be afraid to dream big or that your answers will somehow be wrong.
It's only for your own guidance, so you'll be sure you're on the right track as your career progresses.
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