The Starting Point: Goals

It’s been a while since last time I was here, but I’m excited to be back with you this week at The Writer’s Life.

I’m going to be talking about how budding freelance writers can hone their skills and create more successful careers.

I’m starting with goals because that’s where it all begins. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

Whether or not you believe in the conspiracy of the universe, it’s true that it is much harder to get what you want when you have no idea what that want is.

If you have goals, now would be a good time to review them and make sure that what you say you want is really what you want. If your goals don’t make you want to get up and take action right now, you may have the wrong goals.

In fact, the reason I chose to write on something as basic as goals today is because I’m sensing it’s time for me to update my goals. It’s amazing how fast you can and will achieve your goals once you earnestly commit to them. (To see my story of commitment, check out my article from 2009: The Power of Commitment.)

Fortunately, I hit a lot of my goals recently – six-figure income, new house, new cars, etc. …

I also hit some business goals. And those were important to getting me where I am today.

But now, it’s time to stretch myself again. I’m getting too comfortable.

So, if you don’t have goals, I highly recommend that you take some time today to think about what you want and where you’re going with your freelance career.

As you review your goals or set new goals, think about what you’re really trying to achieve. Set at least one goal that is a huge reach, something that will take a year or more to achieve.

That’s the process I’m going through right now. So here’s my thinking as I look for new bigger goals:

The conventional wisdom is that all of your goals should be realistic, but the truth is, a page full of realistic goals is hard to get excited about. So set one “big” goal, as well as goals that you can meet in relatively short periods of time and moderate goals that may be a bit of stretch but are achievable. One book I read called this big goal your BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

What happens is you create a mix of realistic and fantastic but ultimately reachable goals that will motivate you to keep going. And in my experience, the small goals feed the belief structure needed to reach the BHAG.

Now, if you can’t figure out what you want and how to set goals that excite you, I have a couple of suggestions. These could work as your first goals or for new goals if you already have existing ones. Read my article “Apprentice Yourself as a Copywriter” for a more in-depth explanation, but in short …

If you set no other goals as a copywriter, you should commit to deliberate practice and the studying of other people’s copy (from the masters, of course) every day.

These are ongoing goals, more of a process than an achievement. You can easily measure whether you’re accomplishing them each day because you either did the work or not. The payoff is that doing these two things will build your copywriting skill until you become the successful copywriter you want to be. Feel free to share your goals with me by posting a comment below.

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Published: July 16, 2012

2 Responses to “The Starting Point: Goals”

  1. Hi Sean,

    What a great suggestion! My goal is to be able to quit my 9 to 5 so that I have more time for my family. It does feel out of reach right now. I got this idea to become a freelance writer and found AWAI. I have seen all of the great success stories and am simply amazed. I review all of the wonderful opportunities with writing and get excited about each one of them, therefore, am not quite sure which direction I want to go. I will soon figure it out and look very forward to that.

    Guest (KCallahan)

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