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Establishing Goals and Milestones – Freelancing

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goals and milestones

Establishing Goals and Milestones

All this talk of business-planning documents and SWOT analyses may be making your head spin, and you’re forgiven if you find yourself glossing over them in your rush to make a tangible start on your own business. However, I strongly suggest that you take a moment to write down some simple goals and then define some milestones.

Goal-setting helps filter all of the thousands of thoughts and ideas you have into a list that’s far more manageable. High achievers in every field from sports to business consistently suggest that goal-setting is an invaluable part of the process. Goals can help you define your objectives, help you to understand what’s important to you, motivate you towards achievement, and build your self-confidence.


find goal-setting is most helpful in distinguishing what’s important and what’s irrelevant. This helps me concentrate on what really is crucial to me, and gives me the freedom to spend less time on the rest.

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Many people use the acronym SMART when creating goals, as well as for other project management methods. SMART stands for:

  • Specific: is the description of the goal precise?
  • Measurable: do you explain how you will measure results?
  • Attainable: is it possible to achieve, with some effort?
  • Realistic: do you have the power to control the results?
  • Timely: do you have a deadline for the goal?

The reasoning behind SMART holds that a vague goal is an almost useless goal. As an example, say I needed to win more projects; I could define a goal as, “Get more web site projects.” Sure, this is better than nothing, but how much more inspiring would it be if I changed it to say, “Win five more web site projects this quarter.”

See the difference? I’ve been specific (I want to win more projects); I’ve been measurable (I want five more in the next three months); my goal is attainable (who couldn’t win five projects in three months?); my goal is realistic (I know I can deliver five projects within that time); and it’s timely (it has a three-month deadline).

Setting a great goal should challenge and stimulate you. If I downsized my goal of winning one project in the next two months, I’d be more likely to slack off. It also needs to be realistic, though, so some impossible expectation of getting ten projects in three months would set up almost certain failure. It’s a good idea to limit yourself to just a handful of short-term and medium-term goals writing an exhaustive list of everything you would like to complete prior to your death is a sure way to demotivate yourself.

Now, when we think of milestones, we normally recall a large web project we’ve been involved in. Think of a milestone as a landmark towards your longer-term goals.

A typical milestone is to realize a situation where you’re earning more than your current salary within a year of going solo. There are some smaller milestones you can place along the way to see how you’re shaping up.

The first milestone would be having the ability to pay yourself enough to survive on. Let’s say that’s about half of what you earn today. Set a milestone-based upon how long you believe it should take to reach this point—it may be a month, or perhaps three months, depending on your situation.

Now, let’s consider your return on investment, which is initially to reclaim all of those start-up costs involved in your transition to freelance life. These vary, of course, from person to person, but you should have an idea of how long this would take.

The third milestone is that of bringing home the same salary as you currently earn. Will this take six months, or nine months, or even longer?

Write down your milestones and refer to them over the coming months you’ll be surprised how quickly you reach them, exceed them, and find yourself setting more goals for future success!


This post contains the content of book The Principles of Successful Freelancing By Miles Burke below is a link of the complete book The Principles of Successful Freelancing

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