3 ways for freelancers to set the stage for a fantastic 2020

Dec 11, 2019

It’s December! I love this time of year. Yes, I love the holidays. Having an enormous twinkling tree in my living room, pulling out my sparkly dresses (see a theme here?), and making merry with friends and family.  But the business coach in me loves this time of year for an entirely different reason; the opportunity to reflect on the past year, think about what I want for the next, and to set the stage for all the good things I desire to flow in. The longer I’m in business, the more this stuff happens year-round, but this time of year feels particularly potent.

I also recognize that this time of year, with its huge expectations of togetherness, general merriness, and setting big hairy goals (oh, and becoming a whole new you come January 1) can feel overwhelming.  So today, I’m going to try to make something that might feel hard (starting the new year on a good footing) as aspirational and actionable as possible. And I’m going to start by sharing 3 steps to clearing, organizing, and setting the stage for a fantastic 2020.

1) Deal with loose ends and get organized

One of the biggest challenges a small business owner faces is feeling overwhelmed (can I hear an Amen?). With SO many hats to wear and things to do, it can be really easy to get stuck in the weeds of busy work, rather than the purpose-driven work you were actually put on this earth to do. Today we’re going to get a bit more granular and talk about how to tame and organize the flow of information and content. Now, this would be an entire post in and of itself if I let it, so I’m just going to share a simple method I recently discovered called the P.A.R.A method by Tiego Forte (look it up, it’s pretty great).  In short, you create a digital filing system that is the same across all platforms (think Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, etc.). Here’s what the P.A.R.A stands for:

Projects: These are active projects that have a defined scope and deadline.

Areas: These are areas of your life where you have a responsibility or interest. What makes them different from projects is that they’re on-going, whereas a project has a defined scope and date. For example, “health” would be an area, while “book acupuncture appointment” would be a project.

Resources: Let’s stick with the health example. A resource might be an article on the Whole 30 diet that you’ve bookmarked and want to read.

Archive: My favorite! This where you put all the stuff you haven’t looked at in 3 months or more.

I would recommend creating sub-folders in each of those main category folders e.g. marketing, finances, clients etc. so you can easily find anything you’re looking for.  The key is to keep the set up consistent across all platforms that you’re using.

Sound daunting? I thought so too, but once I got a bee in my bonnet and decided to do it, it took me just a few hours. And, man, did I feel proud of myself when it was done!

To do: Identify an area where you have loose ends. Perhaps it’s getting a budget and bookkeeping software set up in your business. Or maybe it’s reviewing your client and project list and identifying which ones are ideal and which ones you’d like to let go of so you can create space for better projects to come in.

2) Let go of things that don’t work for you

As humans, we drag a whole lot of unnecessary baggage around with us. Which makes building the business and life of our dreams harder than it needs to be.  I’m a big fan of a visual aid, so let’s take a look at, what I’ve just named (literally, just now!), the Life Wheel and take an inventory of each area. You’ll easily see where you feel strong, confident, and in control and where you feel there’s, ahem, an opportunity for growth.  Perhaps your marriage or primary relationship is in great shape, but you’re struggling financially. Or perhaps money has always come easily to you, but a regular exercise routine feels like an impossible feat.

To do: Grade yourself out of 10 in each area and jot down any thoughts that come to you about why this is a struggle, what it would mean to you to move past it, and who might be able to help you e.g. a therapist, coach, acupuncturist, financial advisor etc.

3) Pick your areas of focus

I believe that one of the reasons traditional goal setting fails is that we choose arbitrary goals that are super-broad and vague (If you’ve ever set a goal to “make more money” or “get healthy” you know what I mean).

Using the same life-wheel visual, choose the 1-3 areas where a positive change will have the most impact in your life and start with the ones that feel most important. For example, if you’ve chosen health, finances, and business, it would probably make sense to focus on health and finances first because they are pretty much the foundation of everything else.

To do: Now, here’s where the rubber meets the road. Get really specific around where you are, where you’d like to be, what the steps to get there are, and who/what you need in terms of support to get you there. Take action on one of those resources. Perhaps it’s hiring a trainer, buying a book, taking a course, or hiring a therapist or coach. We ALL need ideas, structure, and support.

I’ll be joining my mastermind group for another year of support, what about you?  Leave a comment below and share ONE thing you’ll do to set yourself up for the best possible 2020!

Justine Clay

Justine Clay is a speaker and business coach for creative entrepreneurs and freelancers. Sign up for her free guide: How to Find High-Quality Clients and Get Paid What You’re Worth, above.