How to Crush Your Freelance Goals in the New Year

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Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

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It seems like we start every year with high hopes for making huge progress on accomplishing freelancing goals. 

We sign up for new goal setting systems. We read new books and swear to ourselves that this year will be different than every other year so far.

Then around 350 days later we look up and realize we didn’t hit the mark we were hoping to hit when the year first started.

This year of all years was a pretty sucky year for accomplishing goals. There were a lot of things that happened that definitely caught absolutely everyone off guard. BUT, that still doesn’t take away the sting of the fact that we just couldn’t achieve everything we were hoping to achieve in this last season.

How to Actually Accomplish Your Freelancing Goals in the New Year

What if you didn’t have to suffer through the same cycle year after year with your freelancing goals?

What if there were some really practical and simple ways to keep you on track and actually excited when that 350 day mark roles around?

Great news.

There is!

I have a condition when it comes to goal setting. It’s called “Chronic Over-Ambitious Goal Setting that Leaves Me Frustrated.” COAGSLMF for short.

You might have this condition too. Thankfully, I haven’t let all of my failed goals keep me from not making new goals for the future.

I’m actually always on the look out for insightful tips for actually accomplishing your goals. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. I don’t know.

Along the way, I’ve learned a lot of things that have really helped me to actually accomplish my freelancing goals. And, I’m happy to share those tips with you right now!

1. Cut your goals in half

This may sound counter-intuitive. You might be saying, “Chris, I came to you for motivation and now you’re telling me to cut my goals in half!”

Here’s the thing though:

The psychology of goal setting is THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR to actually accomplishing your freelancing goals.

More than your skills or the amount of free time you have. More than how much you paid for a life coach or to be a part of some group.

And, honestly, if you find yourself reading a blog on goal setting it’s likely you fit in the OVER-ACHIEVING category, not the UNDER-ACHIEVING category. So, I’ve got a pretty good guess that you too find yourself setting goals that are way too ambitious only to be left discouraged when you don’t accomplish them.

It will be MUCH MORE difficult to actually accomplish your freelancing goals if you are constantly discouraged by your lack of progress.

On the other hand, you will be MUCH MORE ENCOURAGED to go above and beyond your own goals if you see yourself actually making progress on accomplishing your freelancing goals.

If you can’t cut the goal in half then double the amount of time you’re anticipating it will take you. That way it still takes the pressure off you BUT you can still accomplish the goal you set out to accomplish.

This idea came from Jon Acuff’s book “Finish.” Which I’ve talked about a lot here on SMWD. It’s one of the best books I’ve read about goal setting and finishing ?

2. Plan for Things Not to Go As Planned

When we originally set goals we always imagine that the circumstances for accomplishing those goals will be perfect for our success.

For some reason we never imagine that things are going to happen that will make it much more difficult to actually accomplish our freelancing goals.

And, maybe, more importantly, we never imagine that we might not have the motivation to actually stick to a routine or schedule that enables us actually accomplish those freelancing goals.

I’m the worst at this.

I for some reason always assume that I will some how magically have more self-will and motivation to do things that I haven’t been able to do in the past.

Truthfully, this isn’t something that is special to me. A lot of us overestimate the abilities we’ll have in the future.

That’s why the phrase, “Diet starts Monday,” is so popular.

We trick ourselves into thinking that somehow it will be much easier to say no to our favorite donut on Monday that it is on Sunday.

But, it never is.

So, rather than get discourage by setbacks that are out of your control OR your lack of motivation PLAN FOR IT.

It’s going to happen and it shouldn’t catch you off guard.

Add a little extra time to accomplish freelancing goals for things that happen outside of your control.

Create “when/then” statements for when you lack motivation.

“When/Then” statements are fun and pretty easy to do. It goes something like this.

“When I feel like watching t.v. instead of working on my goals, then I’ll give myself a 5 minute break.”


“When I’d rather be checking email instead of working on my goals, then I’ll text a friend and ask for help to stay motivated.”

The great thing is the “THEN” part of the equation can be simple. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

BUT, one thing is for sure, if you don’t plan for those moments they can derail actually accomplishing freelancing goals.

3. Practice being grateful

Speaking of the psychology of accomplishing freelancing goals another great way to stay motivated is by intentionally being grateful.

Listen, I’m not a lovey-dovey, “let me write that down in my gratitude journal,” kind of guy.

I’ve just come to understand that there is something to being grateful and accomplishing freelancing goals.

Gary V says that, “gratitude is the secret ingredient to happiness, longevity and legacy.”

I tend to agree with him.

It all boils down to perspective.

There are plenty of things to be discouraged about out there. AND, if you don’t make the effort then you will easily find those things dominating your thinking.

On the other hand, there are so many things to be grateful for. No matter where you’ve come from in life OR where you are right now.

And, if you are intentional about looking for those things you will find them popping up more and more all around you.

Being grateful gives us this weird ability to keep going despite setbacks. It gives us this weird ability to be excited about ANY progress we’ve made even if it’s not as much as we would have hoped for.

I’m not in any way saying you shouldn’t stretch yourself or tone down your ambition.

But, I am saying that our default setting as humans is to focus on the discouraging stuff. And, if you don’t continually make an effort to be grateful you will find it very difficult to accomplish freelancing goals over the long haul.

4. Get better sleep

I recently took a master class by Matthew Walker called “The Science of Better Sleep.” The things I learned in that class have changed how I view sleep.

I used to see sleep as a hinderance. It was something I had to do but was keeping me back from really getting things done.

But, through this class I’ve realized that sleep is actually an aid to accomplishing MORE in life.

For instance, it’s estimated that American’s lose around $411 billion every year from sleep loss.

Sleep is actually an aid in learning and remembering things AND gives you the ability to cope with discouragement much more.

In other words, if there was a secret ingredient to help you accomplish freelancing goals this next year it would definitely be getting better sleep.

I know for myself, if I’m struggling through exhaustion it’s pretty likely I won’t have that extra motivation to accomplish my goals.

Here are a few things to consider.

Most of us need any where from 7-9 hours of sleep per night. And, it’s better to have a sleep routine that stays consistent every day of the week.

Contrary to popular belief you can’t gain lost sleep back over the weekend.

So rather that sleep-starve yourself Monday through Friday and sleep-binge yourself Saturday and Sunday try to keep it the same the entire way through.

Not only will it help you accomplish freelancing goals BUT it will keep you healthier for longer.

For more info read Matthew’s book “Why We Sleep.”

5. Make Your Goals Specific and Time-Bound

This is kind of goal setting 101.

But, if you’re going to be successful accomplishing your freelancing goals they need to be specific and have a deadline.

You can’t just say, “I’m going to make more money on freelancing next year.”

Instead, you have to say, “I’m going to earn $3000 more in the first quarter of 2021 than I did in 2020.”

It’s pretty easy to see the difference in those two but let’s go over them real quickly.


The more specific you get the easier it is to know what steps you need to take along the way to getting accomplish your freelancing goals.

In goal setting there are what are called lead measures and what are called lag measures.

The lag measures are what most of us associate with our goals. They are the results. Things like losing 20 pounds or making $10k more next year.

But, if that’s all you have in your goals it will be really difficult to track your progress and know how to pivot or change directions to actually make it to the finish line.

So, you have to have lead measures. Lead measures are the tiny steps along the way to getting to the lag measure.

So, for losing 20 pounds our lead measures would be working out 5 days a week and staying under a certain calorie intake every day.

You can track your lead measures to know just how likely you are to accomplishing your lag measures.

The more specific you are with your goal the easier it is to know what lead measures will help you get there which will make it much more likely for you to accomplish your freelancing goals.


Giving a goal a deadline is another way to make sure you can actually accomplish them. Without that deadline it’s pretty easy to get side-tracked and allow other things to pop-up and take priority.

Saying “yes” to a goal means saying, “no” to a lot of other things. But, without a concrete deadline it makes that “yes” you’ve said to your goal a lot weaker.

As a result, it will be much more difficult to say, “no” to the things you aren’t wanting to focus on right now.

Distractions will inevitably happen. And, they aren’t always bad things. Some of them are really good, honorable even.

And, without a timeline to keep you on track you will have a much more difficult time saying no to those distractions.

Why not, right? There isn’t any kind of pressure to accomplish a freelancing goal that doesn’t have a deadline.

You’ll get to it tomorrow, right?

6. Find Some Accountability

Being a part of a group of people that is also trying to accomplish freelancing goals in the new year is a great way to keep you on track.

We humans are social creatures. We like doing things in groups. It’s a part of our evolutionary make-up and honestly, it’s a lot more fun.

From week to week it’s much more difficult to coast on your goals if you know you have a group of people that are going to be asking about how your doing.

So, find a few folks that are looking to accomplish some freelancing goals and see if they’d be up for doing it together.

If you can’t find anyone in your immediate circle of friends or relationships, this might be a great time to build your network and look for others who share your same ambitions.

There are all sorts of places to find new people. You can try connecting with people on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Reddit.

Or you can try your hand at a mastermind. I’m a part of Pat Flynn’s group called SPI Pro. I love it and can’t recommend it enough.

However you find your accountability crew just make sure you find someone. Even if they don’t provide the accountability you hope for you’ll at least have some new friends to do life with.

7. Bring Your Family on the Journey

For all those folks with families out there you have to make sure that your family is on board with your freelancing goals for the new year.

You can’t accomplish more in one area without accomplishing less in another. That seems pretty simple but it’s funny how much we justify our big goals to our families by assuring them you can do it all without it affecting them.

But, as much as we wish it weren’t true. Your freelancing goals will force you to be less available for things at home.

This may sound counter-cultural but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it might be a good thing.

It all depends on how you do it.

I talked to my wife recently on how we maintain a healthy marriage and a demanding side-hustle.

The key is making sure your family is on board with your goals AND THEN taking them on the journey with you.

If you set goals without running it by your spouse to see if it’s even feasible I can almost guarantee you those goals are just a pipe dream.

You have to have those conversations before you ever think about writing a goal down.

I give my wife 100% veto power. That means if she doesn’t think something is a good idea EVEN IF I’M CONVINCED it’s the best idea ever I won’t do it.

Because, at the end of the day, if I accomplish big freelancing goals and lose my family in the process I haven’t gained anything.

So, be realistic with your spouse about what this goal will take and talk to them about the benefits you’re seeing from accomplishing those freelancing goals.

They might need help seeing the big picture like you see it. So, take some time and explain what you’re thinking.

Once you get the go ahead make sure the goals aren’t just yours. They’re everyone’s goals.

Talk to your spouse about them. Share wins with your kids.

Something we do is have celebrations when we hit mile-markers in our goals. If you promise your kids an ice-cream party if you hit your first-quarter freelancing goal I can guarantee you they will be cheering you on and more understanding if you need to duck out to work for an extra 30 minutes.

8. Keep Going

I say this every week on the Self-Made Web Designer podcast, “If you don’t quit you win.”

I have to be honest with you. I am a HORRIBLE goal setter. Especially when it comes to freelancing goals.

I always aim too high. Get frustrated and end up wanting to quit pretty early on.

But, something that I am good at is sticking with it.

In fact, I think that’s really one of the main reasons I’ve been successful.

I’m not the most talented web designer.

I’m certainly not the smartest.

And, I’m definitely not the youngest ?

But, I do know how to keep going when things don’t work out how I planned them.

Stuff happens. Goals get delayed, postponed or canceled all together.

But, if stick with it you will one day find yourself looking back with amazement at how far you’ve come.

The Truth About Accomplishing Freelancing Goals

Big goals aren’t easy.

They are designed to stretch you and make you a bit uncomfortable so that you can grow and reach levels you didn’t once think possible.

As a result most of us fail at our goals.

And, that’s okay.

This isn’t some “Aim for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars,” cliche.

I’ve learned that setting goals is much more for learning something about yourself and the world around you.

So, it’s okay if you struggle to accomplish freelancing goals like I do.

At least you’re going for it.

And, by doing so you’ll grow in ways you never would if you hadn’t.

White shoes on a red carpet to suggest starting new freelancing goals


Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

Every week, I write an article and release a podcast episode. Sign up if you want to get notified when that happens.



  1. John LeMay says:

    Well written! Motivating me!

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