Illustration by Léo Hamelin

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 goal 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 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 to 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.

News you can use

Send me your money questions: I’m running a special edition of the newsletter this month all about freelancer finances. If you have any money questions, send them over and they’ll get answered by tax experts.

Dolly Vision

Who needs a new year’s resolution when you look this good.

Calls for pitches

LitHub: Senior editor Corinne Segal says she is always accepting pitches

CJR: The media business site is looking for pitches from journalists of colour

Vice: Has l
aunched a fellowship program to mentor US college journalists. The first semester is looking at mental health; you can pitch as an individual or in a team of up to four fellow college journalists

The reading list

I was quoted in this piece about establishing personal boundaries as a freelance journalist online. Read Bella Mackie's refreshing fitness diary. How weightlifting transformed this writer's mental health. Author Jen A. Miller answers your freelancing questions. The best skincare trick is being rich.  The author of Cat Person has a new short story out. 


Lottie Gross: Thanks for all the dog pics and journo inspo (but mainly the dog pics). Here's to an equally excellent 2019!

The Professional Freelancer is written by Anna Codrea-Rado. Illustrations are by Léo Hamelin and production is done by Tara Lepore

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Copyright © 2019 Anna Codrea-Rado, All rights reserved.