ICBA Blog

Your Year in Review

How to use the past to harness your potential in 2019

When the year winds down and a new one is about to start, we often make resolutions for the fresh calendar ahead. But before you make that checklist or set goals for what you want to accomplish as an independent contractor in 2019, take a look at where you’ve been this year. What were your plusses and pitfalls? The answers to these questions can serve as a guide map during your planning sessions. Here’s how to dig into your last 12 months to find the right fuel for the future.

Step 1: List your wins for the year.
Perhaps you finally got your rideshare vehicle setup exactly how you want it. Or you secured work with a gig app that lands you great shifts. Maybe you linked up with a new client you really enjoy working with, or you secured a tough project and nailed it. Positive points can include anything—from finding more work-life balance to earning a bit more cash. Your triumphs can be major milestones or simpler feats. All are worth celebrating. Try to list at least eight.

Wins for the year
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Once you’ve compiled them, put a checkmark next to the ones that enhanced your career or made the independent contractor life most worth the effort. Try to narrow it down to five. Now (from your full list) circle the year’s highlights that you’d like to capitalize on in the new year. Again, narrow it down to five. You should have some items that are both circled and checked. These wins that overlap can help you formulate goals for the months ahead.

Step 2: List your pitfalls.

Set your win list aside. Now comes the not-so-fun part. We’re often told to avoid focusing on the negative, but taking a look at our snags can also help us get better at what we do or become more productive. Jot down the things that weren’t so great about your work year. Maybe you had workflow issues or dealt with a difficult client. Or maybe you landed gigs, but they just weren’t something you’re passionate about. Again, list at least eight pitfalls. Now put a checkmark next to the ones that bummed you out most. Aim for five. Now circle at least five from your full list that you absolutely must avoid in the year ahead. The snafus with both circles and checks should be a big focus for your future goals.

Pitfalls for the year
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Step 3: Make new goals for wins and formulate actionable plans.
Think about the wins with the circle and the checkmark. Where would you like to take each accomplishment in the new year? If you’ve read up on goal-setting, you might be familiar with the acronym “SMART.” The SMART goal concept is attributed to consultant George T. Doran, who wrote a paper on the subject. (Here’s a brief history.) The gist of setting SMART goals is that your objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-related.

Start with one of the accomplishments you’d like to capitalize on. If you’ve done the work in step 1 above, you’re already in the process of making a SMART goal. You’ve got a specificarea of work you’d like to continue to improve. (See worksheet example below.)

Now make that item measurable. For example, if you want to earn more cash, designate how much. Or if you’d like to add more regular home healthcare patients to your roster, determine how many.

Your goal should be achievableandactionable.Make a step-by-step plan on how you will pull it off. If you are a rideshare driver who wants to earn more money on the road, maybe you make a commitment to working “rush” periods on certain days, which means you might have to rearrange your schedule for providing other on-demand services.

Make sure your goal is realistic. If you’re considering a goal about selling more product, take a look at the goal you just met. If you increased your average monthly direct marketing sales by 10% percent last year, perhaps you can set a goal to increase your average monthly sales by another 10% this year (or maybe even a little more). You know that’s an attainable goal because you just nailed it previously.

Make your goal time-relatedby setting a date by which you’d like to accomplish it.

Repeat the SMART goal-setting process for any of your big goals for 2019.

Step 4: Tackle goals for avoiding pain points.
You can set goals to hurdle those potential pitfalls too. If one of your issues involved always having a bloated schedule, for example, run through the SMART goal-setting process and work out a solution to make your workday more manageable.

Roadmap for the Year Ahead

Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-related
Goals for capitalizing on the wins
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Goals for avoiding the pitfalls
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