Contracting Life

How to set and achieve goals as a contractor

Christmas is just around the corner and, beyond that, looms the end of 2019 and the start of 2020. In…

Author Photo by Martin Baxter

Christmas is just around the corner and, beyond that, looms the end of 2019 and the start of 2020. In short, it’s the time of year when we naturally begin to think about the next 12 months and where they’ll take us career-wise – and, as people do, we begin setting goals for ourselves.

For employees, this is a fairly straightforward process involving one-to-ones, reviews, and appraisals, but as a contractor, you’re in charge of your own career development. It’s up to you to set your goals, achieve them, and review your progress as you go along. So, how do you go about this without having to create your own appraisal? We have some tips that we’ve picked up from a variety of contractors along the way.

Make sure your goals are measurable

To be able to track goals, you need to be able to measure them. Examples of quantifiable goals would be:

  • I want to earn £100,000 over the next 12 months
  • I want to work with 10 new clients this year
  • I want to gain a professional qualification in SEO

These are all things that can be tracked and measured either cumulatively over the course of the year or by completing work to gain a certificate.

Realism is key

While goals should be challenging (why set them otherwise?), they do need to be achievable, or else you run the risk of being completely demoralized. So, if you think 10 new clients are unlikely, but seven should be achievable (while still stretching you), then go with seven. If you outstrip yourself and gain 10 new clients, then so much the better.

It can also help to break down your goals into smaller tasks that can be achieved every few weeks or months to keep the momentum going.

Deadlines are crucial

Target dates are the equivalent of the one-to-one meetings you’d have with your line manager if you were an employee. So, while your goal may have a set end date (seven new clients by 31 December 2020, for instance), you may also want some mini-deadlines along the way (for example, two new clients by 29 February, four new clients by 30 June). This will help not only with your sense of achievement but also with measuring how your goals are coming along.

Remember to evaluate how things are now

Before you go setting goals for yourself, it’s important to evaluate how things stand for you at the moment. You could ask yourself:

  • Am I where I want to be in my contracting career?
  • If not, where do I want to be?
  • What do I need to accomplish in order to get there?

This will then give you ideas on what your goals should be.

Of course, smaller goals are useful too. These could be as simple as sorting out your accounts, getting a better filing system, or making sure your contractor insurance is up to date. If you need help with that last one, give us a call on 01242 808 740.

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