The Double-Edged Sword of New Year’s Resolutions

Given the time of year, I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions. I posted about how I have mixed feelings about new year’s resolutions on Instagram earlier this week, but wanted to talk more about it here.

Around this time last year, I did a bit of reading up on how to set better goals, and stumbled across the 1-2-3 technique. In a nutshell, you set yourself a numbers-based goals within a 90-day period and then you outline three action steps you need to take to get you there.

It’s what led me to set a goal of making £15,000 in 90 days, which I wrote about in a previous newsletter after those three months were up. As I wrote back then, while I didn’t quite hit the target, I was really proud of my achievement and what I learned through the process was more valuable than the £2,500 I fell short on.

Something I learnt from my good friend and fellow freelancer, Tiffany Phillipou, is that before you can do anything else, you need to figure out your “why”. I think this is holds so true when it comes to goals. In fact, I think it’s the real secret to whether or not you’ll be able stick to your resolutions.

It’s not easy to figure out your why as a freelancer, though. Especially if you’ve come to self-employment after working in a staff job. You might have been used to setting goals back then as part of your annual review, but typically these need to align with the company’s own vision. Without even realising it, you’ve not actually been free to be clear on what you’re really trying to achieve.

To go back to the £15,000 example, for all intents and purposes I “missed my target”. Looking at the end result as the only measure of my goal’s success, that amounts to failing. But when I think about the reasons behind setting that goal in the first place, it really doesn’t.

To my mind, a goal or resolution is all the more rewarding when you treat it as the vehicle to getting somewhere, rather than the end destination itself. Making £15,000 wasn’t about the money itself, but what it represents: financial freedom and the independence to set the trajectory of my own career.

My advice for setting goals this January:

  1. Before you set your goal, ask yourself what is it that you’re really trying to achieve?

  2. Spend some time researching different types of goal-setting methods to find one that actually works for you

  3. Don’t set a goal at the start of the year just for the sake of it.