How do I set myself good goals?

How to set goals?

Sometimes the new year is the time when we set ourselves new goals. And other times we just want to know for ourselves where we want to go in the future. Here are a few ideas on how you can set yourself good goals for your solo self-employment and for your life.

Do I want to go home at 5 pm on the dot, or would I rather take an occasional night shift
night shift to take the kids to the zoo or read the paper in a café during the day?
read the newspaper in a café? Do I like to work with the laptop on the blanket in the outdoor pool?
Or do I prefer to have a fixed workplace to which I make a pilgrimage every morning,
five days a week, 230 days a year?

Let’s face it: life tries to throw us off course from time to time. But we can only really stay on course if we know where we are going. should go. In order to find the right path for us, the first thing we have to do is to first of all, we have to align our compass – and make a few decisions.

What is success to you?

Before you can measure your success, you have to know what you want to measure. you want to measure. Take a few minutes to think about what you mean by career and success. what you mean by career and success. Success means that you achieve what you want to achieve. Success is therefore a question of goals – and thus something different for each of us. Does making a career for you mean climbing up the hierarchies? Having personnel responsibility to have personnel responsibility? Or to exhibit in the most renowned galleries and filling huge halls with paying audiences? When is your career successful?

“Be clear that your ladder is leaning against the right building.”

— Brené Brown — 

What do you really want to achieve?

You feel like you don’t have enough, you know what you want to do? Business is good and you’re randomly taking all the orders and drowning in work? Below you will find suggestions on how to plan your business and set smart goals. 

But before you get down to the hard facts, you can ask yourself a question
consciously ask yourself:

  • Do you want to have the freedom to take a Friday off work in a year’s time?
  • Friday? 
  • Do you have certain income goals or does your heart beat for a certain dream client?
  • for a certain dream client?
  • What do I really want?
  • Are status symbols important to you – and if so, why?
  • Do you want to impress the neighbour with your sports car, feel superior or prove to yourself that you are valuable?
  • And why do you really want to work for a certain editorial office or law firm?
  • Will you become a better person if you can actually get such a job – or do you simply have intrinsic pleasure in this work?

Our values and preferences are the best indicators to check our goals.

Consider the sub-goals

Whenever you set yourself a goal, you should consider one thing: Are you ready to take the necessary steps to achieve it?

Do you want to prove to yourself, for example, that you have the stamina and the bite
to run a marathon? You have set yourself an ambitious goal.
set for yourself. Now you only have to ask yourself one question: Do you like running at all?
Because if we only want to say that we are marathon finishers, we might overlook what we have to do to get there. After all, a jogging slacker doesn’t just struggle through the 42.19 kilometres during the race, but already the 40 to 70 kilometres required during training each week. Are you really ready to spend a large part of your free time in running shoes? So before you lace up your running shoes, you should consider whether this path is right for you.
Goals should inspire us and spur us on to achieve our best. Good goals should
Good goals should not be castles in the air, but a lighthouse to guide us. They help us to find out what we should pay attention to on the way, who we want to have by our side on the journey and what belongs in our luggage. Think about where you would like to arrive – even before you start.

Smart goals

Have you ever got into a car and just driven off without knowing where you were going? While we usually have a clear destination in mind when driving, this is not always the case in life. Before you enthusiastically quit your job and start your self-employment at full throttle, you may pull over for a moment and put on the handbrake – to think about where you want to go. The management consultant Peter Drucker recommends that we set as concrete goals as possible. Our goals should be smart. By this he does not mean that they need internet access – because smart is a shortcut:

  • S – Specific: The goal is fixed as concretely as possible.
  • M – Measurable: The goal must contain objectively verifiable factors.
  • A – Accepted: All those involved stand behind the goal and do
  • do their part for it.
  • R – Realistic: The goal may be ambitious, but it should remain within the bounds of what is feasible.
  • of what is feasible.
  • T – Timed: A smart goal impresses with its clear deadline.


Example | The smart diet

A non-specific goal is, for example, the desire to lose a little weight. A smart goal, on the other hand, looks like this: I want to lose three kilos (realistically) within the next three months (scheduled) by whipping up a light salad (specifically) for dinner with my husband (accepted) at least three times a week (measurable).S – Specific: The goal is fixed as concretely as possible.


Make success measurable

But before it gets too philosophical, let’s stick to objective facts: It is usually easiest for us to measure success by numbers. For this, you can collect and evaluate the following data. And that brings us to the heart of controlling:

  • How is your business developing?
  • How high are your revenues? 
  • Are there seasonal fluctuations?
  • How are your expenses developing?
  • How big is your liquidity?
  • How many new customers have you won?
  • How have your followers in social media developed?
  • Do you have more or less orders and has their volume changed?
  • Have your prices changed and what impact has this had?
  • Do you need employees or external supporters?
  • With which clients do you make the most turnover?
  • Which orders do you spend the most time on?

The last two points are crucial for controlling, especially for solo self-employed workers. Because sometimes we work most of the time for company A, but receive most of the fees from company B. This usually makes it possible to see quite quickly whether an assignment is financially worthwhile. 

Monitoring and evaluating your objective company goals requires both that you have set such goals and that you record their development. Ideally, you should set annual and quarterly goals and monitor their progress at regular intervals. In addition to clear bookkeeping, this also includes tracking your working hours

Reflect on why you do what you do

When we lost sight of our goal, we redoubled our efforts,” noted writer
efforts,” noted the 19th century writer Mark Twain. And that’s exactly what many self-employed people still seem to do today. So before you start climbing the career ladder, take a good look at the wall you’re leaning against. And if you are thinking about giving up, think about why you started. Because even if you make a living with your self-employment, its success cannot only be measured in numbers.

  • Why did you decide to become self-employed?
  • Have you achieved these goals?
  • Did these goals fail due to reality – or did you simply lose sight of the goal?
  • lost sight of the goal?
  • How is your professional life developing?
  • Have you gained new qualifications in the last few months?
  • What references can you show today?
  • Has your field of activity changed in the last few months?
  • And if so, why?
  • Are you really as free as you wanted to be?
  • What would you have to change to achieve this goal?
  • How would you feel if you achieved it?
  • Are you still willing to take the necessary steps?
  • Are these still the right goals?
  • Is self-employment still the best choice for your current life situation?

Find your comfort zone

Your professional career and your personal development have moved a little closer together through your self-employment. After some time of self-employment, you get an idea of where your comfort zone is:

  • In which situations do you feel particularly confident?
  • What tasks do you do with ease?
  • What bores you so much that you would rather hand it over?
  • What do you get the most praise for?
  • What do you enjoy doing the most?

Create a work-life balance

And then there is another very important area in the reflection: the
balance between work and leisure. Here, too, it is worth taking a closer look, because it is precisely in this area that many self-employed people repeatedly fall into imbalance:

  • What can you really praise yourself for?
  • Who is the boss: you or your clients?
  • Who sets your working hours?
  • When are you particularly good at being creative?
  • Do you really use this time for creative work?
  • What keeps you from living according to your own rhythms?
  • How do you experience the relationship with your clients?
  • What would have to change for you to have the perfect work experience?
  • Why do you currently work the way you do? 
  • How do you feel about the working atmosphere?
  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Do you take time to socialise?
  • Do you find time for sports and a healthy diet?
  • What would have to change for you to be 100% satisfied?

Look ahead

In your reflection you have now thoroughly looked back. On the basis of the knowledge you have gained, you now venture a courageous outlook into your future.

  • In which direction do you want to develop?
  • What references do you want to collect?
  • What training can help you to achieve this?
  • Where do you want your career to go from here?

How solo self-employed people can plan for the new year

Efficient anticipation

Evaluate your financial results:

  • How much money did you earn
  • What were your expenses?
  • What was your total profit, i.e. income minus expenses?
  • What was your profit margin (profit divided by income)?

If you have this data for the previous year, this is a good time to compare these figures with those of this or other previous years. 

In the beginning, estimating the income for the following year is a question for the crystal ball. Only with one or better several years of experience does the estimation become somewhat easier. So don’t think that the estimate has to be right. As a rule, you can still tell the tax office or the artists’ social insurance fund in the current year that you want to change your expected income.

However, if you have already collected some data, you can roughly estimate when there will be lulls, which clients you can count on and whether you might have a continuous order that creates a certain basic financial noise. Of course, you can also actively approach your clients to see if they are counting on your support in the coming year. 

So go through your current clients and think about what income could be realistic for each. 

It will be a little easier if you first estimate your order volume for each month individually. This way you can work out when you’ll be on holiday, when you’ll have fewer gigs and orders, and in which months you might want to work a little less in order to do some training. 

Do you know what the beauty of self-employment is? You are the boss. Accordingly, you can behave with your orders a bit like a child in a sweet shop: a bit of this, a bit of that and next year I’ll finally treat myself to a big bite of that!

Especially in the beginning, this may seem a bit unrealistic, as you first want to earn money and gain a foothold. But little by little, the market learns what it likes about you and at some point you can choose what you want to work for and with. So when you plan your year, you can also think about where you want to go. Here you can just dream. Whether it’s realistic or not is completely irrelevant here. Just look at what you really want and what you would have to do to get there. And until you get there, you can still pay your rent in a very down-to-earth way with what you’re super good at and what sells well.

  • What would you like to do less of?
  • What would you like to stop doing altogether?
  • What would you like to do more of
  • What would you like to start doing?

If you know what you want to do, you need one thing above all: customers.
But this is precisely the biggest challenge when starting out on the market.
Building up a solid customer base can be tricky. Here
not only about finding paying customers, but also about finding the right
but also discovering the right clientele.

The first step is to distinguish between two types of target groups: 

  • the people you are already selling to and
  • the people you are supposed to sell to in the future.

Sometimes these two groups are identical, but sometimes they are worlds apart. For example, if you start your writing career at a local newspaper, you probably see small provincial papers as your target audience because that’s where you collect most of your royalties. But your real audience is the publishers to whom you will soon want to pitch your books, and of course the readers for whom you want to write your books. So, when you are planning your new life and work, also ask yourself: Who do you want to do this for?

The way to find your target group is to ask specific questions:

  • Where do your clients work (e.g. in the press office of a university or in the booking department for a scene location)?
  • And how much do you earn?
  • What do your dream clients do in their free time, i.e. what kind of people are they?
  • What problem can you solve for them?

Since you are planning your future, you should not only consider who you are already working for, but also that your future clients will have a say in the direction of your career. For example, if you want to be a science journalist, working for Bild probably doesn’t make much sense. The same is true if you actually want to work for a school book publisher but spend all your time painting birthday cards for children’s birthdays. Your choice of clients shapes your credentials and your portfolio. The choice of each client is also the choice of your future. Of course, especially in the beginning, you can’t always be as choosy as you might like, but you can always readjust.

Now it’s time for fine-tuning. For each of your answers, think about when you want to achieve this goal and what you need to do to achieve it. For more information, see above on how to set smart goals:

  • What topics do you want to focus on next year?
  • What do you want your professional title to be or become?
  • What services or products do you want to offer?
  • What do you still need to learn?

And since you are not only a worker but also a human being, you may also take time for these questions:

  • How do I want to feel?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • How do I want others to perceive me?
  • What should be the title of the next phase of my life?
  • What do I want to learn?
  • What do I want to do less of?
  • What do I need to let go of something I don’t like?
  • What do I want to stop doing altogether?
  • What do I want to do more of?
  • What do I want to start doing?

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Fotografin: Sarah Dorweiler

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