If you are a freelance writer, one of the joys you no doubt are thankful for is that you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself. Long gone are the days of one to ones with your boss or nerve-racking meetings where you are fearful you’ll be told your job is no more.
Saying that, if you don’t take stock from time to time, take a step back and assess your progress, make new goals and create new ambitions then it will be difficult to judge your success, to move forward and to grow.
Since the year is coming to a close, now is, therefore, the perfect time to do just that. Set some time aside to give yourself an end of year review, think about what went well and what didn’t and look forward to the new year ahead, where you can create future objectives and targets and start thinking about what you need to do to achieve them.
So how do you go about conducting your annual review?
If you want to get something useful out of it, then you must take it seriously. Just as you would if you were sitting down with your boss, make time to prepare for your review. Think of interesting questions to ask yourself. Get all your materials together. Find somewhere quiet and comfortable, bring a notepad, turn your phone on silent and block email alerts and any other notifications, grab a cup of coffee and begin.
Start with your goals
Think back to the beginning of the year. What goals and expectations did you have? Which did you meet, or exceed, and why did that happen? Which did you fail at – can you explain why you think you weren’t able to succeed? Were there things you could have done differently? Did you give it your all? Were there obstacles that were out of your control that stopped you? Could you preempt these next time?
Break it down
Breaking your assessment down into different categories is helpful and makes your review more focused. The kinds of things that are useful to evaluate are income, business growth, organization and administration, networking and contacts, social media presence, client satisfaction, reviews, personal achievements and successes, and professional development.
Make sure you have positives
Even if you feel as though you didn’t achieve a great deal this year, it is important to celebrate any success, no matter how ‘minor’ you think these are. You might not have been published, you might not have finished that novel, but if you found time to write at all you should be proud of yourself and use that as a basis to build upon and improve. Of course, you need to think about why perhaps you didn’t achieve what you wanted to, but don’t give yourself too much of a hard time otherwise, it will feel even harder to achieve your goals next year.
Remember that priorities can change
It’s important to understand that your aims and priorities may have changed during the year, and that’s OK. Some projects might have ground to a halt while new ones emerged instead. Reflecting on perhaps why you decided to focus more time on one project over another is always exciting and can be vital in finding what it is you are genuinely passionate about.
Finally, set your goals
Finish your review by setting new, challenging, but achievable goals for 2017. Where possible help yourself by making your goals measurable so next year you can evidence whether you achieved them or not. Don’t make them ridiculously unachievable or open-ended. For example, it’s better to have a goal of sending your manuscript off to ten publishers; then it is to simply ‘get published.’
Throughout the year, monitor your progress. Keep looking back at your goals and see if you are on the right track. Perhaps if they have changed then make a note of that but also explain why so that when you sit down at the end of 2017, you can remind yourself of why your year panned out the way it did and achieve even more in the year to come!