Use the Power of Goals to Enhance Your Freelance Life
by Chris King

As free agents, independent professionals, and freelancers, we are always searching for new opportunities or being offered a variety of projects. Karen O'Connor (in Lee Silber's fine book Career Management for the Creative Person) writes, "I used to be scattered, taking on any project that sounded fun, but never working toward any real, meaningful goals. I wasted a lot of time on projects that I thought were fun but not very rewarding.

All that changed when I wrote a mission statement. It was the best thing I ever did. Now I make decisions based on my mission. It also reminds me to pay attention to my mental, spiritual, and relationship goals as well as my career." Do you have a mission statement and/or goals? In this article I am going to focus on goals - advantages, techniques, ideas, the how and the why.

Having a specific goal, with a deadline, is the key to success. This has been stated over and over again by top speakers, by top leaders, by those who have achieved amazing feats, happiness, health and almost anything one might desire. And yet, so many of us don't take the time to consider what it is we really want, write it down, and take the action steps to get it. We don't have to be rigid about our goal setting. It is OK to have more than one goal - there are people who have written down more than 100 goals for their lives and have achieved them. And, if you are working toward a specific goal and discover it actually isn't the goal you desire, it is OK to change it. But it is important to have a goal or goals.

You ask, "I understand the importance of setting a goal or goal, but what if I don't know what I want?" This is an excellent question and you are not alone. I have been teaching a popular workshop for years called How to Discover Your Core Passion that is filled with others who are trying to find out what they want. I believe and tell my students that deep down they do know what they want, but subconsciously realize that once they admit it to themselves and actually put it on paper, they will have to do it. And, what keeps us from doing this? FEAR! Fear of failure, fear of criticism, fear of the unknown, fear of loss, fear of change, and a whole host of other fears. My question to you is, "What would you do if you had no limitations and knew that you could not fail?" Take some time to sit down and write a wish list, thinking of all of the changes you would like to have happen in your life and your career.

Why and how do goals work? First of all, a goal must have certain qualities. It must be specific enough that you can visualize it. It is an advantage to set a deadline and a way to measure the outcome. For example, if you decide to lose weight, you would specify the number of pounds and when you would reach your ideal weight, visualizing how you will look and feel. Any goal should offer a challenge, but not be impossible or unreasonable. And, the most important part is that you believe you can reach it. Earl Nightingale shared his greatest secret, "We become what we think about all day long." And that is the power of goal setting, because as we think about our goals, the most amazing circumstances start to take place. We meet the people who can help us. We just happen to hear or learn exactly what we need to know to get to the next step. Life becomes more exciting and interesting. You will wake up in the morning looking forward to the day and filled with anticipation. Sound a bit overwhelming? I suggest setting some short-term goals to focus on, and as you reach those, the bigger goals will seem much more reachable.

You say, "I am generally satisfied with my life, so should I still set goals and what kind of goals?" I hear exactly what you are saying. I love my life. It is busy and filled with the work and play I enjoy. I find, however, that there is always a new risk to take, a new and enriching endeavor to tackle, and a subject or skill to learn. In this fast changing world, there is something new happening everyday. I am not suggesting joining the frenetic pace, but how about trying something you have always wanted to do? I am a storyteller and a couple of years ago decided I wanted to enhance my telling by adding a drum beat to certain stories. I set a goal to learn how to drum and the minute I did, I received a community bulletin offering a continuing education class in African drumming. What fun I had! I am not a professional drummer by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have a Djembe and know enough to use it with pizzazz during certain tales. What I am attempting to stress here is that goals don't have to be heavy and rigid or overwhelming. They can and should add joy and delight to your life.

All right. Goals are powerful. But how can they enhance my freelance life and career? Even if the goals you set are not directly related to your career situation, every goal you reach will strengthen your confidence and self-esteem, both of which add to your presence with clients and when networking. Every goal that forces you to take risks will help you take more risks as a freelancer, therefore giving you a unique and special style of your own. The freelancer with confidence and style is the freelancer who will be hired in today's tough job market. The free agent who takes risks will help clients take risks. And the independent professional who sets goals will accomplish everything he or she desires.

Remember, there is one more important part of goal setting. Goals that are set without taking action on them are the beginning of delusion. Goals with action are the beginning of miracles. So set some goals, get busy, and let me know how you're doing!


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