Self-employed goal setting, in my opinion, is more important than setting goals when you’re an regular ole’ employee. I’m not talking about managers or owners, because obviously they need to create goals, but the peons. Peons isn’t an insult, by the way. That’s just how I thought of myself when I worked outside of my home. Those goal-setting meetings with the bosses were the worst. Seriously, such a waste of time. What are you supposed to say? My goal is to get your job in two years? Or, even better, my goal is to continue doing exactly the same thing I’m already doing every single day because this job requires no creativity. Awesome! But self-employed goal setting is a whole different ball game.
I am obviously self-employed, and if you aren’t aware of what I do, it’s bookkeeping. I have a couple of clients, but not too many or I couldn’t survive working at home with kids, and I don’t intend to grow my business. You might be wondering why I need goals at all in that place, but I’d argue if I didn’t have goals my business would fail entirely – not to mention this blog. Why would I keep doing it? No one’s making me. I answer only to me. Goals help me stay motivated. But, goal setting can be quite the tricky task, so here’s what research has to say about it.
Is Self-Employed Goal Setting Necessary?
Well, the easy answer is yes. That’s pretty obvious, right? The science is in. Back in the 90s, researchers Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham basically ruled goal setting research, and everything since then kind of stems from that. The gist is goal setting can be a motivator and improve performance if the goals are clear and the setter isn’t too rigid about achieving them. They came up with five principles of goal setting: clarity, challenge, commitment, feedback, and task complexity. You can read more about those principles here. So, we’ve got a pretty good idea that goal setting works. Now, how does that pertain to self-employed folks? Bloggers, this means you too, whether you’re making money yet or not.
If you’re reading this, you probably are self-employed, or you’re thinking about it. We all know how hard it is, right? We have to do everything on our own, DIY style, and we often sell ourselves short. This is where goals come in. Whether they’re financial, knowledge-based, or something else, if we have something to work towards, it will help us make up for the fact that we don’t have someone to work for. So, the 80% of you small business owners who don’t monitor your goals, it’s time to jump on the self-employed goal setting bandwagon.
For the Goal Haters
Not on board yet, huh? Look, I get it. Making goals sucks. It’s a hassle, it’s a bummer when you don’t hit them, yada yada yada. You can even use find articlesthat prove goal setting doesn’t work, albeit without any citations, although that doesn’t seem to be an issue in this fake news society. That’s fine. I have my own article about hating schedules, even though everyone and their mother swears they’re necessary if you work from home. But here’s the thing… I do have a schedule. It’s not a minute-by-minute calendar, but I use an automated to-do list, and I absolutely know which ones have deadlines and which ones don’t. And you goal haters, even if you aren’t writing them down or calling them goals, you know you have them too. Everybody wants something, so call it whatever you want and use it to further your business.
How to Be Successful in Goal Setting
First off, actually hitting your goal isn’t necessarily the successful part. Some people even get sad when they complete their goals, so that can make self-employed goal setting even more confusing. What will make you successful is creating actionable goals that turn into action plans – hitting the goal is only icing on the cake. In fact, some studies have shown that having too specific of goals can hurt companies in the long run because they only focus on one thing and ignore everything else. So, here’s the best steps you can take for goal setting.
Write your goals down.
Your goals need to be out there in the world somehow, so you have a way to track them. If you have other employees under you, you might want to share them, but research is mixed on whether or not you need to tell people about them. I don’t personally; since I work alone I don’t see the point. I usually scribble my quarterly goals down and after I’ve had a chance to go over them I’ll put them into my to-do list and toss out my notes. Also, you need to try and find the sweet spot between too vague and too specific – good luck!
Create actions you can do to achieve your goals.
Think of how you can make your new goals happen. What steps do you need to take? Is there something you can work on every day to help you reach that goal? Hopefully there is, because if you can work on something daily you make it into a habit, and habits are more important than goals. Think about it; if you have a blogging goal to get 100 new Twitter followers, and every day you made 8 comments on someone else’s Twitter feed, it’d become a habit, and you’d easily be able to continue long after you met your goal. Then you should keep increasing followers without much effort. That’s a made up goal, by the way. I have no idea if that would work.
Check your progress.
This one’s pretty easy. Remember how I said I put my goals in my to-do list? Those dates are usually arbitrary, but when they pop up it’s an excellent time for me to reevaluate everything I’m doing. Am I making progress? Did I accomplish the whole thing and need to start something new? You don’t necessarily need a hard date to check on things, but you do need to update your action plan every so often to see if those habits are useful or not. I’m obsessed with my to-do list, probably because of all that dopamine, so when it’s time to check the big goals I have the best time crossing off little goals and making new ones.
Accept that you won’t make all your goals.
I put my goals into writing so I can figure out my action plans, but I don’t really care one way or another if I hit specific targets. I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time, so I have to keep guessing what’s possible and what isn’t. Your business is likely more serious mine, though, and I know how crushing it must feel when you miss a lot of goals. But… Eh. There are so many things outside of your control, if you focus on one particular number, you’re going to make yourself crazy. Remember, the important part is the actions. So when you miss another goal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re failing. It might just mean it’s time to try something new.
I could probably write a book about self-employed goal setting, but I’ll refrain for now. Instead, let me know in the comments what works for you and what you do to create actionable goals. We’ll figure this out together!