It is commonly accepted that planning is the key to meeting any goal, whether it be related to freelance writing, family, finances or anything else you can think of. Over the decades, experts across a whole spectrum of industries and specialities have used a variety of systems to help them set and meet goals more effectively. For example, just think for a moment about the concept of a SMART goal. This simple acronym (which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely), was formulated in the 1980s and quickly became a fundamental part of education, business and everyday life, giving us a structured way to plan our goals and meet them. Up until now, I’ve never really questioned this method of working. I mean, there’s never been anything to prompt me to doubt it before.

But now I’m beginning to wonder about the letter R in this acronym. It’s asking us to choose a goal that is, subjectively, realistic. And I find that a little vague…

Let me explain… More often than not in our exclusive members group, I see self-doubt. “I worry about pitching for this job in case I’m rejected”, “Freelance writing is my dream but I don’t feel I can get started because it’s too scary”, “My writing portfolio doesn’t look very impressive and I feel like giving up“. You get the drift… And where there’s self-doubt, there’s poor goal planning. Because, if a person doesn’t feel good enough or sets too many limits for themselves, their goals aren’t going to be realistic at all. In fact, their goals will be average and unfulfilling. And there is very little reward in achieving an easy-to-get, mediocre goal.

So today, as part of an exclusive, members-only competition,  I asked members to think of a goal using the SMART criteria. But I asked them to hone in on the ‘realistic’ nature of that goal and take a step outside of their comfort zones. After all, how can they achieve great things in their freelance writing careers if they’re working within limits set by their own self-doubt? By taking an extra step, pushing themselves a little bit further, they will probably find that what’s realistically achievable is far greater than they expected.

So what kind of goals can be set in a freelance writing career that are both SMART and a little bit daring?

Here are some ideas:

1. Double down on your pitching efforts. If you’re currently pitching for 5 jobs per week, set yourself the goal of pitching for 10. 

2. Increase your blogging frequency. Only updating your blog once a month currently? Try once a week instead. In fact, push yourself even further and see if twice-weekly blog posts is achievable. I bet it is.

3. Learn a new skill within a designated time frame. Perhaps you need to spruce up on your Mailchimp knowledge? Give yourself a month to become a Mailchimp pro and add this skill to your portfolio (and incorporate it into your pricing). 

Of course, there are plenty of other goals you can set, both short and long term. What’s important, however, is that you’re not afraid to push yourself a little bit further. This week, I had a workload so large I was convinced it would be IMPOSSIBLE for me to complete. Yet, within a couple of days, I had managed to complete the priority jobs and formulate a tidy schedule for the rest of it. I had underestimated what I was capable of doing and surprised myself with what I managed. So now, when setting future goals, I have a far more realistic view of what I am capable of doing in short spaces of time. No matter how far into our freelance writing careers we are, it is critical to always evaluate how realistic our goals are, and how we can push ourselves further each time we set them.

I’d like to help you to meet your goals. By joining our Freelance Writing Membership Programme in time for May, you can be included in our new goal-setting competition and have me work closely with you throughout May to achieve optimal freelance writing success.