As 2018 will be my first full calendar year of self-employment I thought it would be good to lay down some principles or priorities (rather than goals or objectives) so that when I look back at the end of the year I'll be able to measure if I've being successful according to the standards I've set for myself. I don't want to lose sight of WHY I've chosen to work for myself in the first place and get caught up with a whole different set of external success measures.
This is the list I came up with - written as an intended state of being. When I feel I'm being hard on myself and shifting priorities these are good to look back on to help me assess whether I'm making decisions that align with my desired state.
How will I know I'm doing self-employment right for me?
I make time to prioritize my health
My relationship with my husband & family benefits from the flexibility self-employment provides
I am able to spend more time with my family in South Africa than I could with 15 days vacation per year
I spend time “outside” and mobile during the work day
I value the flexibility that working for myself provides on a day-to-day basis (to do the above)
I enjoy the freedom to create my own vision and set business priorities
I spend time with business owners and creatives that inspire me
I am learning, challenged and growing as a business owner
I’m making or on a path to make an equivalent salary as [insert position and year]
I have no desire to go back to corporate employment
Looking at the above, the first 6 priorities are all about lifestyle, with #7-9 more about business ownershop and #10 is the true litmus test! The "lifestyle" priorities are intended to be a reminder to me to safeguard these core intentions if I start to get too sucked in to priority #9. Priority #9 does serve its own important purpose though, it sets a clear goal for me for what I want to earn one day as a business owner. The number I have in mind is not the salary I was on when I exited corporate (I'm willing to forego that if I'm living priorities #1 through 6) but it is symbolic of a decent salary that allowed me to live happily as a single New Yorker. If I'm unable to generate that level of income for myself at some point in future it will be a sign that my business is not viable i.e. the value people derive from the service I'm providing is not sufficient to support me financially. At the end of the day, I want a business not a hobby.
If you're a business owner or thinking of becoming one, I'd love to hear how you define your personal success and whether you have a similar list to keep you in check?
I'll leave you with a quote from Courtney E. Martin's book, The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream, which perfectly sums up how I'm feeling right now: