How to Set and Reach Your Goals in 2011

The New Year is the perfect time to take a step back and examine your business and plan some new goals.

While you should be working on your business throughout the year, nothing is more important than sitting down and taking a good hard look at where you are and where you want to be.

A year ago to the exact date (of when I wrote this article!) I wrote an article about setting goals for your business in 2010. In it, I described both how to set a goal and how to work towards reaching it. I’d now like to talk about what happens after that first year–were the goals met and what to do about them now.

Where Are You Now?

Before you can look at where you want to be, you have to first figure out where you are right now. Take a step back from working and give your business a hard look. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you working with the kinds of projects you really want?
  • The clients of clients you really love?
  • What about the amount of work?
  • The amount of money?

If you planned well the year before, you might be happy with all of the above, but if not, it’s time to put a real plan into action and to make sure you’re happier next New Year’s.

What Happened with Your Goals Last Year?

If you happened to have done some goal-making last year, now’s the time to see if you made it or not. For 2010, I had several goals I wanted to reach:

  • To make $100,000 in my first year of business
  • To work with only design agencies and freelancers
  • To be in the position to accept or decline any project I wanted

The last two goals were something that I could easily reach with a bit of strategic planning, however the first goal seemed impossible to me. It’s good to make goals you know you can reach, but it’s even better to make something you think is impossible (within reason of course). Knowing that I wanted to bring home that much money meant I made sure I took on as many profitable projects as possible. It’s what drove me to make sure I succeeded in my first full year of business.

Of course, goals are useless if you don’t try to fulfill them or examine them one their time’s up (and every goal must have a deadline.). So how did I do? All of my clients are now agencies and freelancers only, and for the past six months, I’ve been able to accept or decline projects without hurting my schedule.

I didn’t make it to $100,000, unfortunately. There’s a couple weeks left in the year and it looks like I’m going to be $15,000 short. However, without that goal, I don’t think I would’ve made half that much!

Where Would You Like to Be Next Year?

If you made it to your goals last year, congrats! But, now it’s time to start some new ones. It’s never a good idea to stay stagnant in your skills or business, no matter how awesome you think you are.

If you didn’t make your goals last year, it’s time to examine the old with the new. Why didn’t you make your goals? Were they too high? Too unreasonable? Or, did you slack off? For this year, I would continue with the goals you didn’t make, but modify them in a way that will allow you to reach them.

For example, I’m still going to try to make it to $100,000 in 2011. I’m now going to have an entire year of charging the rates I do, so with some hard work I think I can make it.

What about the new goals? It can be tough to think of these if you’re already happy with where you are, like I’ve been. I have the clients I want and the projects I want, so what do I have left to make goals of? Off the top of my head, I’d love to:

  • Never work past five or on weekends
  • Take on more mobile projects
  • Get good enough to make my own iPhone apps
  • Get up to a high level of participation.

If you look at my goals, half of them deal with personal projects! You see, I’d eventually love to get to the point where I no longer need clients, but can make a living off the apps, plugins and other items I create! I know this won’t happen for a few years, but I’m already taking steps to make it happen.

So what is it you want to do next year? Where do you want to be?

Ensuring You Make It

You can’t just make a goal and then continue on with your normal routine. You have to take steps everyday in order to reach them. For my $100,000 goal, I knew I’d never make it charging only $30 an hour, so I slowly raised my rates to $100 an hour and charged a flat project fee to make sure I made as much as possibly while being worth it to the client.

For my other two goals, I slowly wedged out my normal clients and replaced them with agencies and freelancers, while declining any project that wasn’t from that source. Making your goals is going to take some adjustments to your business, but these should be welcomed. After all, you’re moving yourself onward towards a better working life!

Your Goals

So what are you goals for 2011? Please share!

Image is Mozilla’s 2010 Goals for Firefox by Phillie Casablanca