I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, having seen far too many pieces of wishful thinking come and go–10 pounds not lost, bad habits not kicked. For freelancers it’s particularly tough, as hectic January sees clients simultaneously whip out their to-do lists that have languished over the holidays.
But just because I don’t believe in making a resolution in the first month of the year doesn’t mean I embrace a life unexamined. With the post-holiday mayhem tucked away till November, and most of the emergencies taken care of, I turn to February resolutions to set my course for the year.
Someday, I’d love to do this as a luxury corporate retreat, but for the past few years I’ve just headed to a local coffee shop sans laptop or cell phone. Two hours of brainstorming, no distractions allowed, just a blank legal pad and a pen and a couple of cups of black java. There are a million theories on how to set big goals, but I keep it simple:
- What do I want to achieve? These are the specifics: Income target, completion of an ebook, breaking into a new field that’s appealing to me. I also incorporate regular-life things in here, like breaking a personal record in a half-marathon or completing a home project.
- What will it look like and feel like when I have achieved that? For each of those goals, you need to close your eyes and dig down a layer to make it more emotional. (I am not a touchy-feely kind of guy, but this is really important!) Pro athletes, in particular, rely on visualization to improve performance—it has ways of energizing your brain that are pretty astonishing.
Once those thoughts are down on paper, it’s time to type them up neatly and tack them to a bulletin board adjacent to my desk. I can’t walk in and out of my office without seeing them—much harder to ignore than an idle thought that occasionally pops into one’s head.