3 Success-Killer Mistakes to Avoid this Year

3 Success-Killer Mistakes to Avoid this Year

When December wrapped itself up, and you began to think about the New Year, you likely did what almost every freelance writer does:

You thought about the coming 12 months, and everything you’d achieve. You dreamed of what you’d do and accomplish. You’re probably still thinking of all that good stuff right now.

You’re full of good intentions. You’re determined! This year, you’re going to work harder. Write more. Get organized. Start that big project, launch that cool idea, and land those new clients.

If you’re like most freelancers, these glorious plans aren’t going to happen.

Six months down the road, you’ll have forgotten about the hopes you had way back in January. That was ages ago. Now you’ve procrastinated too long, got too busy to follow through with your plans, or couldn’t get yourself organized to see them through. You’re now discouraged that you’re so far behind, that your dreams didn’t magically come to life the way you planned.

Instead, everything fell apart. Nothing turned out right. In fact, you don’t even remember that “I’m going to rock it” feeling you once had. All you feel now is poor, tired, worn out and fed up. Your sparkling dreams of yesteryear are just the shattered glass shards of dashed hopes.

That desolate future I just predicted? It could very well be your future this year.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Right now – thankfully – you’re looking ahead to the future. Let this be your crystal ball of what may come to pass… and what you can avoid. Right now, today, you can begin preparing a preventative maintenance plan that shields and protects you from future disaster. Implement the three strategies used by the most successful freelancers and entrepreneurs and add them to your life, and you’ll be in full control, working towards that bright future this year.

Get Smart about Your Money

There’s a reason so many freelance writers often complain they’re poor, struggling to make ends meet or can’t earn a decent salary:

They don’t know a damned thing about managing their money.

Actually, most people are in the same boat. Financial stupidity is more common than you’d think, and it touches everyone from the cash-strapped to the lucratively wealthy.

Stay ignorant of good money management basics, and no matter how much you earn, you’ll always be teetering on the brink of disaster.

Learning about how to manage your money, properly and in a healthy way, is rarely at the top of people’s ‘Fun Things to Do’ list. Some consider it boring, many feel frustrated by it, and most approach it with dread.

But when you embrace the concepts and start applying them to your financial situation, and you can make angels sing.

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Get Smart about Your Action

Ever have one of those friends who always complains? His relationship sucks, his clients suck, his work sucks, his pay rate sucks, his bank balance sucks… you get the picture.

Ever notice this person never does a damned thing to change his situation? At best, he’ll make a vague, halfhearted attempt that’s guaranteed to fail, and then complain when it doesn’t work out. “See, James?! I tried, and nothing happened!”

This year, don’t be that person. Figure out what you have to do to get where you want to be, and take decisive, determined, dogged action to turn things around. Sink your teeth into your situation. Shake it like a rag and rip it to shreds.

Take action. Create change.

You’ll always win. You can’t possibly fail, because action always instigates change – action is change. It gets problems resolved. It gets projects completed. It gets dreams fulfilled. It sweeps away struggles, busts through obstacles and helps you achieve your goals.

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Get Decisive about Your Goals

Let’s say you’re doing okay. Your bank account is pretty good, you’re getting your work done, and you’re generally happy with life. Fast-forward 5 years. Notice anything different?

Probably not.

Most freelancers live this way. They have a goal of being generally happy with what they do, and their life. They work hard at first to get to a point where they’re no longer struggling, and then… they just stay there. They’re not working towards anything else but maintaining status quo.

It’s a good life, sure. But it isn’t better than it was 5 years ago.

This year, choose some goals that actively improve your lifestyle long term and that create tangible, positive change. Work towards making your lifestyle better than it is right now, even if right now is just fine.

For example, what about paying down $400 a month on your $10k line of credit so that you’re debt-free within 5 years? Or completing 3 daily tasks on that new project you’ve been planning, for a period of 3 months? Or focusing solely on marketing activities for your business one hour per day, for 30 days?

It doesn’t take much to achieve freelancing success – it just takes a smart mindset and clear goals with positive outcomes that help you change your life. Just imagine how much you could accomplish this year, if you set your mind to it!

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I’m turning this one over to you. What goals will you work towards this year? What will you decide to set on the back-burner in favor of something better? What will you learn, do, create, or begin? How will you make this year better than the last?

It may just be your best year ever.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. Great points James. Those are some cornerstones of success that most people often miss out on. I have been like that throughout my entrepreneurial journey; however, things have been changing lately, especially when it comes to getting smart about the action and money-management.

    A lot of people overlook money-management when compared to money-making, which is why they usually don’t grow in spite of earning well.

    The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey looks worth-reading. Thanks for the great read!

  2. Every time you publish a post, I get the feeling you live in my head.

    I’m so glad you mentioned money. For some reason, not only do we not want to talk about it but we also don’t want to think about it!

    I’ve been so focused on making money the past couple of years that managing it was an afterthought (living in a tax free country doesn’t help either!).

    This year, I’ve started a simple, two column income and expense record to figure out exactly where my money is going and how much of the money coming in am I wasting. Turns out I’m mismanaging my money.

    A $6 plug-in update here, a $27 ebook there, and hey, I totally need that $10/month online service. This month alone (only 12 days in), I’ve spent $143 on things that I could easily have done without.

    So I need to be careful about where I spend my money.

    Good to have you writing here again, James!

    • Freelance writers are notorious for not being meticulously diligence or careful about bookkeeping – but actually doing it, and creating a budget to stick to, can really change the game and make a big difference in how much more money stays in your pocket.

      And I hear you – it’s SO easy to throw money at the small things. “Hey, only $9? Awesome.” Online purchases seem to be even easier… it’s like playing with Monopoly money and doesn’t quite feel real. Which is why it’s good to be extra careful!

  3. Hi James,
    I loved the headline, especially the phrase: “Success-Killer Mistakes”.
    You are absolutely right – we need to set clear goals and then act decisively.
    In the last week of 2014, I realized that I hadn’t set any goals for 2014.
    Big mistake.
    Now I have set five SMART (and stretch) goals for 2015 – and I have broken them down into weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals.
    I have printed multiple copies so they are right in front of my eyes all the time and I have scheduled a time to review my progress each week.
    So far so good.
    (Btw, I’ve just completed my rapid review of the DFW course. It took much longer than planned, though. I’m so glad I did it first thing this year – great springboard for 2015.)

    • Ha! Yes, break them down WELL, Rohi – I know you, and I know that you tend to get a LOT more done, and more happily too, when your goals are broken down into little bits and steps you can tackle every day!

      I’d be curious to hear what those goals might be – want to share one or two? 😉

      • Hi James,
        Thanks for your encouragement.
        My 2015 goals are:
        1. Publish an article every 5 days = 6 / month = 72 total => consistency => habit.
        2. Focus on publishing guest posts (and not just on my own blog) =>expand comfort zone.
        3. Develop a professional blog
        4. Grow network and email list
        5. Daily exercise, meditation and free-writing.

  4. Taking daily action on your big goals is HUGE! Without it, you’ll get nowhere.

    I keep my big picture To Do List on Wunderlist and sketch out my daily action items in my moleskine and crank away a little bit every day. If it’s a client project, I’ll fire that up into Basecamp and set milestones that we work towards every day and every week.

    But without action you get nowhere and you can’t expect any growth.

    • I think there’s huge value in having a daily action list printed out and beside you on your desk at all times. I never used to print this, but I’ve found that it’s easier to “remember” to take action, quick to pick something and start, and fun to cross off when it’s done. It’s been far more effective for me!

  5. Great post. People tend to ignore the biggest problem on the table – themselves. I love the way Larry Winget state it, “Everything you list on your long list of reason for failure is legit, except you missed one most important item – Yourself.”
    The mental change of acknowledging you are your own biggest obstacle is what makes all the difference between a New Year Resolution and an Practical Action Plan.
    The idea of getting decisive about your goal is so important. I would like to take it even a step farther. List the goals and list what you are willing to sacrifice for each goal. If you are trying to pay off a $1,000 debt, perhaps sacrifice that Netflix subscription of $7.99/month will get you one step closer to the goal.

  6. Paul Back says:

    Hey James

    Its so important to have a goal to work towards – especially as a blogger or freelancer. We have some freedoms and they tend to create problems as often as they solve them.

    There is something that can be said for having a very regimented routine that makes progress day by day. When we work for ourselves we have to create this system on our own, as no one is holding us accountable.

    I feel this is something I really need to work on, my efforts are too sporadic to be truly effective.

    Great to see the blog back and running 😉

    Paul

  7. Excellent artcle. I love that you add special literature on each tip so everyone could deepen their knowledge about it

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