Because I work for myself and by myself I don't often see a lot of progress in my business. The hours of work blend into days that turn into weeks that eventually become months of work and I forget what I did last January. I forget that I landed two new clients or that I designed a great logo. And I also don't have any idea what I want to do next. I find myself waiting for the next client email to tell me what's happening this week instead of taking charge of the projects and marking them off as accomplishments. I lose track of the progress being made when actually there have been noticeable advances that I can be proud of. After years of working like this I now realize that as a freelance graphic designer it's critical for me to set goals and focus on making the goals a reality. If I'm not working toward anything then what's the point of working?
Goals help me lay out the needs of my business in small, achievable steps. I don't want to overwhelm myself or my workload by setting unrealistic goals, I just want something to help me see what I've done and what I still want to strive for. At the beginning of each month I take a few minutes to answer these three questions:
1.What were the big accomplishments from last month?
2. What slipped last month that you’d like to either let go of or pick up this month?
3. What are your goals for the month?
Question one helps me reflect on my business and by typing the answers I can physically see what I've done. Things like, maybe I had set out to design one logo for the month and managed to land three logo contracts. Reviewing your accomplishments is a great way to get a positive lift for the day and to help you remember why you do what you do.
In question two it's time to evaluate your business and your practices. Did you lose track of your to-do list last month? If so, then it's time to get your list back on track or maybe you need to consider a new way of managing your tasks. Think about how you can improve your daily life.
And for question three think about what you want to achieve. What are the things that you've been putting aside? Maybe you need to brush up on your Photoshop skills, so set at least one goal to learn four new Photoshop tricks. That's one a week, you can do that! Maybe you want to want to earn more money, set a goal to find a new client.
Copy and paste these three questions wherever you will see them most frequently. I keep them in Basecamp right next to my tasks. I can refer to them often and think about what I still need to work on before the end of the month. By the time a new month comes around you should be able to check off all three goals and write them down as last month's accomplishments. By getting your goals out of your head and out in the open you give yourself something to strive for. Make your list today and start working toward your goals. It feels good!