writings in a planner
Freelancing,  Productivity,  Updates

How to successfully set goals and plan for 2022

A plan for 2022 is going to start with some goals but it’s important to take stock first of what you have done. We discussed what I managed to achieve last year, last week.

Are there goals, habits or systems that you want to continue with? Have some been achieved so it is time for the next phase or next thing on your list? More importantly, what worked? And why? What didn’t? And why not?

What are the goals you want to set in your plan for 2022?

The next thing to do is to make a list. Goal 1, 2,3…

You need to add goals and actions you want to carry over from the previous year or period of time you set them for. You also need to add habits and systems you want to continue with and keep in mind what does not seem to work for you.

Then you get to add new goals or the next phases of goals you are still working on.

In all this, remember, the main point of all of this is to get some stuff done. You may not get everything done and that’s ok, because you can make progress towards things.

It’s also important to remember that you might be in a phase where you want to try out some things – everything might be a bit exploratory. So you may not hit a goal but you might learn something more about the best way to go about things or what not to do. That is also very useful information.

Sometimes there can be multiple pathways to things. Sometimes it is very useful to explore and work out which way works best for you.

Why do you want these goals? And why do you want them in your plan for 2022?

This is an important question to ask. You are NOT trying to justify whether wanting a goal is valid or not – it’s perfectly fine to want to achieve goals. You are trying to determine why exactly you want to achieve each goal – what is the reason and why is that important to you?

Without doing this, you may not have enough clarity to determine the best path to your goal, the best actions to take or habits to set up and you may not be able to, if things change, find a new way of getting to your goal or knowing if it is something that you find relevant or want to achieve any more.

It’s always important to question why you want things and also if they have a place in your life at this moment right now. Maybe you will find that some goals you will be happy to skip working on this year but you will want to work on them the year after that.

It’s also important to determine which goals are the ones you want rather than the ones you think you should want maybe because others around you have them or lead you to believe that you need them. There may also be goals that you want to achieve because they somehow involve doing something for others in which case it is always important to remember why you work on them because there will be moments where doing the work needed is hard and knowing why you want to achieve these goals can help motivate you to keep going.

One very important thing to ask yourself when you plan things is why do you want to achieve this goal? For you? For someone else? Why? You aren’t asking yourself whether it is justifiably ok or not or valid or not to want to achieve this goal, you are asking yourself what the deep underlying reason is that you want it. You want to know how much you want it.

Goals are great but actions, habits and systems are how you reach them

The next step is to look at your goals and try and work out what counts as an ideal measurement of when you have achieved it and also what then counts as a success in your terms.

What do I mean by this? Well, if one of my goals is to write a book, that’s very vague. What counts as me achieving that goal? When the first draft is done? When it is accepted by a publisher? When it is published? There are lots of steps along the way to getting a book published.

This is where you may have to do a bit of research to work out what all the steps in a process are. For example, in book writing, you have to work out your idea, work out your plot, work out your characters, write a draft, then edit it and rewrite it, get some feedback, get an editor to edit it, make all the changes, format it, submit to agents or publishers, wait for replies, possibly resubmit other places till you get a yes, get some legal help to look over the contract, sign the contract, go through the edits made by the publisher and rewrite them, agree on the cover design, help with marketing when the book is launched and so on.

So when I talk about writing a book for example, I really mean getting to a point where the draft can go out to an editor to go over it. So if I have a completed draft ready to go that would be amazing but even this, given everything else I need to do, is not very realistic.

So then my goal becomes ok, ideally, this would be a completed draft for an editor but realistically, let’s aim for 50,000 words written of a draft and if we get around the 30,000 mark that would be amazing because that’s more than half of it in draft form and done.

So the next thing is to work out what the ideal and realistic measures of success are and then work out what are the actions you need to take to get to those measures.

For the example of writing a book, maybe that means writing for a set amount of time per week or a set target of words per day.

In my case, maybe for 2022, I set a target of 138 words per day or 1000 per week or maybe I say I am going to write as much as I can during a weekly writing livestream for so many hours.

Is the plan for 2022 achievable and realistic? Do they work with the priorities you have in life right now?

This was partly why we discussed the measures, both ideal and what counted as a success above. You can work on any number of goals you want but have you specified what they involve and what you will count as a success if you reach it?

It’s also important to think about how many goals you have versus what areas of your life you have goals for and time for. This is where habits come in.

Habits are very useful things. Habits and systems can be the means by which you automate things for yourself. But habits take work to set up and they also don’t work if you don’t actually value or prioritise the underlying thing you are trying to achieve.

And working out what you genuinely prioritise in your life, at this moment, is important in planning and setting out your goals. Because not every area of your life can be important at once.

And that is ok because once you set up good habits in one area of your life, you can free up energy to go set up good habits in another. Priorities can shift over time as you get better at things.

So work out your priorities and set your goals accordingly. If you can do something very easy to keep things ticking over in the areas you want to prioritise but cannot do so yet.

How many priorities you can take on is up to you as is how many goals. A plan has to be tailored and specific to you.

Schedule, delegate, batch and bootstrap everything

Schedule everything into your paper or digital planner as much as you can before the year or the time period you are planning for starts. That way you can hit the ground running.

You should also schedule in time to plan for the future on a regular basis, perhaps fortnightly, weekly or monthly so that if you need shift things or change things up you can and you have the time to do so.

Then bootstrap what you can – how fancy do things have to be? Can things be simplified? What bits can be automated? Can Google/Siri/Alexa wake you up or remind you to go for walk?

Delegate tasks too. Can someone else do another chore so you have a set amount of time each week to do something else that is related to a goal? Maybe it is worth hiring someone else to do your accounts once a month to free up some time?

Batch things as well. I am batching as many of my blog posts as I can so that I can actually make good on my goal to get some blogging done in 2022.

Review your plan for 2022 as you go

As I have said before, things may change. And that’s ok. Part of your plan may fall apart. That’s also ok. A part of the freelancing game is that there will always be an element of uncertainty. What you can do is be flexible enough to deal with it and to set up systems to cope, manage or mitigate other parts of it.

Even if you weren’t freelancing, I would say any plan that is not set up to be flexible is a plan doomed to fail. Life is full of change. A rigid, set in stone plan will not help you. A plan that allows you to change things as you go is one that allows you to meet goals and scuttle sideways when you need to. Many tell me that they don’t plan because their plans eventually fall apart but I think every plan will, if you don’t allow it to change when it needs to.

Build a plan that will allow you to be flexible enough to change goals and how you want to achieve them as they or the circumstances change. There may be more than one way to get achieve a goal.

Now go execute your plan and tell me how it went.

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