Ep. 3 | Freelance Cake Podcast
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Episode 3|

3 Freelance Goal Setting Questions to Keep Your Business Moving in the Right Direction

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In Episode #3, Austin L. Church shares the goal-setting exercise that helped him and his wife break their overspending habit. He also goes over the 3 questions you need to keep your freelance business on the rails and get the kind of growth you want.

Freelancing is hard work. With all the moving parts in your freelance business, and all the noise and motion, it's easy to get off track.

Austin heard a wise person say, “Discipline is remembering what you want.”

The more clearly you define your freelance goals and motivations, the better your decisions will be. Take this podcast episode as your opportunity to reconnect with what you really want.

Notable Quotes

“In our darker moments when the wave of emotions and the wind of doubt are tossing the boat around, our goals can act as a lighthouse.”

“When you stop worrying about money, when cash flow is no longer your primary limiting constraint, your imagination stands up, shakes out its wings, and takes flight.”

“You’ll find it easier to finish what you start if you focus on what matters most to you.”

The Quote That Helped Me Beat Overspending

For the longest time, my wife Megan and I did not keep a budget. I know that may sound irresponsible or crazy, especially because I’m the guy who supposedly is going to tell you how to go from frustrated freelancer to smooth operator.

But that’s true.

We were not good about making a budget, let alone keeping a budget. I now know the reason. It’s not because we were lazy, irresponsible, or stupid.

We knew what to do but when I really unpacked this incredible difficulty that we had, I realized the reason was we were not clear on what we wanted.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across a quote that helped me diagnose our problem with overspending:

“Discipline is remembering what you want.”

We were not disciplined with our money because we were not clear on what we wanted.

Megan and I finally turned a corner with budgeting when we took turns asking each other questions:

  • What do you want for our family?”
  • What do you want for our kids?”
  • What do you want for me?”
  • What do you want for yourself?”

Identifying Your Goals for Your Freelance Business

I now pose that question to you.

What do you want?

I don’t mean in life or 10 years from now, but right now.

So maybe the better question is what do you want next? What do you want next in your freelance or your consulting business?

Freelancing requires sacrifice. Freelancing can be hard. You may have some early mornings and some late nights as you shift to focus from working harder to working smarter. 

You may spend certain weekends doing your strategic planning rather than just chilling out or watching football or catching up on 90s movies on Netflix.

You’ll be tired sometimes. You won’t get every project you want. You will face disappointment, discouragement, and rejection.

There will come a month when those low bank account balances insist that freelancing wasn’t a good idea after all.

Then there will come a month when you have an experience similar to a coaching client of mine named Kelly. She had this to say in one of our sessions: “I had a $20,000 month and it nearly killed me. I was miserable.”

You will question the path that you chose. You will question the clients that you chose and the work that you chose. You will be tempted to give up. 

Those dark, anxious moments are precisely when you need to recall why you started freelancing in the first place.

“Discipline is remembering what you want.”

3 Questions You Must Ask Yourself To Determine Your Freelance Goals

In our darker moments when the wave of emotions and the wind of doubt are tossing the boat around, our goals can act as a lighthouse.

I encourage you to write down your next or new core desires and motivations. They change over time so even if you have done this before, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to check in with yourself.

Set aside 20-30 minutes to journal about what you want next. Even if you’ve gone through this exercise before, I encourage you to do it again.

  1. What do you want to accomplish with your freelancing or consulting business? You may discover that the target has moved.

    One of my coaching clients, a freelance writer named Amanda had a record year. But what’s the point of all that extra money if she’s too busy to enjoy it? She reached out to me, almost as an act of desperation, like: “Help me! I hit the milestone, I reached the plateau, and it just didn’t feel like what I thought it was gonna feel like.”
  2. What does more money represent for you? Freedom, autonomy, comfort, luxury, safety, status, adventure, impact, you name it.

    Once we move beyond survival, money symbolizes something else we want. Yet it’s pretty easy to get locked into this unquestioned, mindless pursuit of the almighty dollar when that’s not even the end goal.
  3. If you were to double or triple your income, what difference will that make in your life? What would that increase mean for you and your family? Will you pay off your college loans? Will you buy your forever home or an investment property in Charleston? Will you max out your retirement savings? Will you travel to Portugal or to New Zealand?

    Will you give more generously to your church or your favorite non-profit? Will you pay for studio time and finally finish your album or hire an illustrator and finish your children’s book?

    Will you adopt a child? Will your partner quit the job he hates? Will you send your kids to a private school? Will you treat yourself to some bucket-list experience?

Why Setting Your Freelancing Goals Is Important

Your desires can change and when you very intentionally and deliberately build your business, your horizons expand.

You see more possibilities and more options. You dream bigger dreams. You’ll take more risks.

We develop a kind of tunnel vision where we get stuck in our ways and we stop thinking “Well, why not me? Why shouldn’t I be the one to get that dream project?”

We stop reaching out to really cool brands and saying “Hey, let me throw my name in the hat. I’d love to do some work for you. I’d love to do this type of work for you.”

When we stop getting out there and making moves, we just give ourselves fewer opportunities for something really cool to happen.

When you stop worrying about money, when cash flow is no longer your primary limiting constraint, your imagination stands up, shakes out its wings, and takes flight.

We need to intentionally dream so that we can reconnect with why we got into this in the first place.

Because this is just one career path out of many. This is one business model out of many.

You don’t have to keep freelancing. So if you’re going to keep freelancing, just make it doubly clear that you understand your own goals and motivations. 

Maybe you will finish recording an album or writing your novel.

Maybe you will hire an executive assistant and a private chef.

Maybe you will move to Paris for a year.

Go ahead and start dreaming again about how you will spend your freedom because:

  • When your business feels like total chaos and you’re hanging on by your fingernails…
  • When your biggest, most reliable client ends your contract out of the blue…
  • When your kids are home during the summer and driving you crazy because they’re interrupting you every 10 minutes…
  • When you’re on the verge of burnout and you’re thinking about quitting consulting and freelancing or altogether…

You need to pull out your goals and core motivations and read them aloud and reconnect with your reasons why.

Increasing Your Income Opens Up New Opportunities

I’ll share one of my goals with you. It’s going to sound odd at first but here goes:

More dance lessons.

My wife, Megan was and (I guess) is a ballerina. She danced for 14 years. So one of the things that we want for our daughter, Salem, and for our 2 boys is for them to be able to follow their curiosity, sample a bunch of different things, and figure out how they like to express themselves.

When they take an interest in ballet or basketball, theater or piano, filmmaking or coding, we want to be in a financial position where we can say “Yes! Go explore that. Let’s figure out if you like it.”

We also want to travel a bunch with our kids and expose them to other cultures, ways of life, and ways of thinking.

So one of our core motivations for increasing our income is creating opportunities for our kids.

We also want to ramp up our generosity. When friends, family, our church, people in our community, and people around the world come to us with a good cause or with a need, we want to be in a position to say yes.

So please take the time now to write down your next or your new goals and core motivations.

Here are the questions again:

  1. What do you want to accomplish with your freelance or consulting business next?
  2. What does money represent or symbolize for you?
  3. If you were to double or triple your income, what difference will that make in your life? What would that increase mean for you and your family?
  4. (Bonus question) How will you spend your freedom?

On the days when you find it really hard to focus and stay motivated, you can pull out your answers to these questions, read them aloud and remind yourself of why this whole freelance dance is important.

“Discipline is remembering what you want.”

Let me put it another way: You’ll find it easier to finish what you start if you focus on what matters most to you.

Links and Resources from this Episode

Freelance Cake coaching program

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Welcome to the Freelance Cake Podcast. I'm your host, Austin L. Church. The goal of this show is to help full-time, committed freelancers get better leverage.

[00:00:12] As the sworn enemy of busyness and burnout, I have no desire to see you work harder. Instead, I reveal the specific beliefs, principles, and practices you can use right away to make the freelance game more profitable and enjoyable. So chill out and listen in, because the best is yet to come.

[00:00:38] Okay, so let me have a moment of transparency with you. Here goes…

[00:00:43] For the longest time, my wife Megan and I did not keep a budget. Shocker! I know that may sound irresponsible and crazy and all the things, especially because I’m the guy who supposedly is going to tell you how to go from frustrated freelancer to smooth operator.

[00:01:04] But that’s true. We were not good about making a budget, let alone keeping a budget. I now know the reason. It’s not because we were lazy or irresponsible, like I said, or stupid.

[00:01:19] We knew what to do but when I really unpacked this incredible difficulty that we had, I realized the reason was we were not clear on what we wanted.

[00:01:33] A couple of years ago, I stumbled across a quote (I’ve never been able to find who it originally came from) but this quote helped me diagnose our problem with overspending.

[00:01:45] Here’s the quote: “Discipline is remembering what you want.”

[00:01:51] That’s worth repeating slowly. “Discipline is remembering what you want.”

[00:01:58] We were not disciplined with our money because we weren’t clear on what we wanted. Megan and I finally turned a corner with budgeting when we took turns asking each other: “What do you want for our family?” “What do you want for our kids?” “What do you want for me?” “What do you want for yourself?”

[00:02:17] I now pose that question to you. What do you want? 

[00:02:23] I don’t mean in life or 10 years from now, but right now. So maybe the better question is what do you want next? What do you want next in your freelance or your consulting business?

[00:02:38] If you’re listening to this, you’re clearly the kind of person who wants to work on your business, not just in your business.

[00:02:45] You already know that freelancing isn’t going to be a piece of cake always. Ha! See what I did there? Anyway…

[00:02:54] Freelancing requires sacrifice. Freelancing can be hard. You may have some early mornings and some late nights as you shift to focus from working harder to working smarter. 

[00:03:06] You may spend certain weekends doing your strategic planning rather than just chilling out or watching football or catching up on 90s movies on Netflix. You’ll be tired sometimes. You won’t get every project you want. 

[00:03:22] You will face disappointment, discouragement, rejection. There will come a month when those low bank account balances insist that freelancing wasn’t a good idea after all.

[00:03:36] Then there will come a month where you have an experience similar to a coaching client of mine named Kelly. She had this to say in one of our sessions: “I had a $20,000 month and it nearly killed me. I was miserable.”

[00:03:54] You will question the path that you chose and you will question the clients that you chose and the work that you chose. And you will be tempted to give up. 

[00:04:04] Those dark, anxious moments are precisely when you need to recall why you started freelancing in the first place. “Discipline is remembering what you want.”

[00:04:16] In our darker moments when the wave of emotions and the wind of doubt are tossing the boat around, our goals can act like a lighthouse.

[00:04:28] I encourage you to write down your next or new core desires and motivations. They change over time so even if you have done this before, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to check in with yourself.

[00:04:45] These 3 questions are a good place to start. Question number 1, what do you want to accomplish with your freelancing and consulting business? You may discover that the target has moved.

[00:05:00] One of my coaching clients, a freelance writer named Amanda had a record year. But what’s the point of all that extra money if she’s too busy to enjoy it? If she’s not truly available to her family?

[00:05:15] She reached out to me, almost out of an act of desperation, like “Help me!”, like “I hit the milestone, I reached the plateau, and it just didn’t feel like what I thought it was gonna feel like.”

[00:05:29] Question number 2, what does more money represent for you? Freedom, autonomy, comfort, luxury, safety, status, adventure, impact, you name it. Once we move beyond survival, money symbolizes something else we want.

[00:05:51] Yet it’s pretty easy to get locked into this unquestioned, mindless pursuit of the almighty dollar when that’s not even the end goal. “Discipline is remembering what you want.”

[00:06:06] Question number 3, if you were to double or triple your income, what difference will that make in your life? What would that increase mean for you and your family? There are no right or wrong answers here.

[00:06:22] Will you pay off your college loans? Will you buy your forever home or an investment property in Charleston? Will you max out your retirement savings? Will you travel to Portugal or to New Zealand?

[00:06:35] Will you give more generously to your church or your favorite non-profit? Will you pay for studio time and finally finish your album or hire an illustrator and finish your children’s book?

[00:06:46] Will you adopt a child? Will your partner quit the job he hates? Will you send your kids to a private school? Will you treat yourself to some bucket-list experience?

[00:06:58] For the last 5 or 6 years, I have wanted to go to barbecue school. I know it’s dorky, I know. But in December 2022, I’m headed down to Unadilla, Georgia for Myron Mixon’s Barbecue Cooking School and I think it’s hilarious that we include both the barbecue and the cooking. I mean, what else would you do it… I guess it could be a barbecue-eating school, right? But anyway…

[00:07:25] Set aside 20 or 30 minutes to journal about what you want next. Even if you’ve gone through this exercise before, like I said, I encourage you to do it again.

[00:07:40] Your desires can change and when you very intentionally, deliberately build your business, your horizons expand. You see more possibilities, more options. You dream bigger dreams. I’ll also say that you take more risks.

[00:08:00] We develop a kind of tunnel vision where we get stuck in our ways, routine kind of calcifies around us, and we stop thinking “Well, why not me? Why shouldn’t I be the one to get that dream project?”

[00:08:17] We stop reaching out to really cool brands and saying “Hey, let me throw my name in the hat. I’d love to do some work for you. I’d love to do this type of work for you.”

[00:08:28] When we stop getting out there and making moves, we just give ourselves fewer opportunities for something really cool to happen.

[00:08:38] When you stop worrying about money, when cash flow is no longer your primary limiting constraint, your imagination stands up, shakes out its wings, and takes flight. And I know that’s cheesy but you know that this is right.

[00:08:57] You know that we need to intentionally dream so that we can reconnect why we got into this in the first place. Because this is just one career path out of many. This is one business model out of many.

[00:09:12] You don’t have to keep freelancing. So if you’re going to keep freelancing, just make it doubly clear that you understand your own goals and motivations. 

[00:09:23] So maybe you will finish recording an album or writing your novel. Maybe you will hire an executive assistant and a private chef, why not? Maybe you will move to Paris for a year.

[00:09:36] Go ahead and start dreaming again about how you will spend your freedom. Because when your business feels like total chaos and you’re hanging on by your fingernails, when your biggest, most reliable client ends your contract out of the blue, when your kids are home during the summer and driving you crazy because they’re interrupting you every 10 minutes, when you’re on the verge of burnout and you’re thinking about quitting consulting and freelancing or altogether, and that becomes a very, very attractive proposition…

[00:10:11] You need to pull out your goals and core motivations and read them aloud and reconnect with your reasons why.

[00:10:20] I’ll share one of my goals with you. It’s going to sound odd at first. More dance lessons. My wife Megan was and I guess is a ballerina. She danced for 14 years. So one of the things that we want for our daughter, Salem, and for our 2 boys is for them to be able to follow their curiosity, to sample a bunch of different things, to figure out how they like to express themselves.

[00:10:52] When they take an interest in ballet or basketball, theater or piano, filmmaking or coding, we want to be in a financial position where we can say “Yes! Go explore that. Let’s figure out if you like it.”

[00:11:08] We also want to travel a bunch with our kids and expose them to other cultures and ways of life and ways of thinking. So one of our core motivations for increasing our income is creating opportunities for our kids.

[00:11:23] I don’t think that’s unusual. I think a lot of parents think the same way. We also want to ramp up our generosity. When friends, family, our church, and people in our community, people around the world come to us with a good cause, with a need, we want to be in a position to say yes.

[00:11:44] So please take the time now to write down your next or your new goals and core motivations. Here are the questions again. Question number 1, what do you want to accomplish with your freelance or consulting business next?

[00:12:03] Question number 2, what does money represent or symbolize for you? Question number 3, if you were to double or triple your income, what difference will that make in your life? What would that increase mean for you and your family?

[00:12:22] Finally, one last question, how will you spend your freedom? On the days when you find it really hard to focus and stay motivated, you can pull out your answers to these questions. Read them aloud and remind yourself of why this whole freelance dance is important.

[00:12:45] “Discipline is remembering what you want.” Or let me put it another way: You’ll find it easier to finish what you start, if you focus on what matters most to you. Yeah, that’s a good place to end.

[00:13:12] Before you go, a quick reminder. Be sure to check out the Freelance Cake coaching program. The program is for committed, full-time freelancers and it’s designed to help you get better leverage in your business.

[00:13:26] We have group sessions, a private community, and on-demand trainings. And each week, you focus on implementing a specific lever such as your positioning cheat code, juicy offers, or morning marketing habit.

[00:13:41] The same or better income with more free time, fun, and creative challenges - that’s the point, right?

[00:13:49] So go to FreelanceCake.com/coaching. My friends, the best is yet to come. See you in the next episode!

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