Whether you’re a freelance health writer or an employed medical writer, you can benefit both personally and professionally by setting career goals.
Your health writing career goals can be financial, lifestyle-orientated or based around the type of client or employer you want to work for.
Your goals can also reflect a personal desire – for example, if you only want to do the type of writing work you love (eg health copywriting, health blogging or academic writing) .
Why do we need goals?
There are many important reasons why setting goals can benefit you both personally and professionally, including clarity on your career vision, increased focus, motivation, accountability, and living – and being – your best, including honing your ability to believe in yourself.
Goals can also be the key determinants that enable your success – as well as your personal and/or professional growth.
However, there’s an increasing amount of literature that argues the best goal is no goal and that wanting to improve (ie goal setting) is not consistent with contentment.
Deciding on whether goal setting is something that’s necessary and relevant for you involves a little soul-searching. What do you want from your medical writing career? Is your career consistent with your core values?
Ultimately, there are no right or wrong answers – it really comes down to what feels right for you.
If you do decide that you want to set some health writing career goals, try starting out with a few SMART goals.
You might already be familiar with the concept of SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
These types of goals are thought to be the most effective because they are designed to be achieved. They aren’t vague or up for interpretation and it’s simple and straightforward to determine whether you have achieved them. SMART goals are often used by organisations and management in objective-setting processes, but I have found that they are very useful for freelancers, too.
There are a few different interpretations of the SMART criteria, depending on which source you reference, but they can be generally explained in the following way:
- Specific – define a measure of success. Instead of “making enough money to feel fulfilled” it should be a specific financial goal – this involves you working out how much money you need to make in order to feel fulfilled
- Measurable – You should be able to measure or count your goal. So adding a time value to it helps you to see how much farther you have to go.
- Attainable – the premise of this concept is that you should dream big but within your means. Don’t push yourself out of your comfort zone.
- Relevant – similarly, ensure that your goals are relevant within the scope of what you can offer. If you can only freelance three days per week it might be unrealistic to assume you can reach a 6-figure income in 6 months’ time, for example.
- Time-bound – include a time element in your goals, whether that’s a deadline or an ongoing time element. This helps you to measure your progress
When you’re thinking of setting goals for your health writing career, it can help to determine what motivates you – considering both extrinsic (external) and intrinsic (internal) motivators. For example:
- EXTERNAL: You’re motivated by money/rewards/praise – so setting a monthly financial target could be a good goal to help you stay focused.
- INTERNAL: You’re motivated by job satisfaction – so goals based around types of work, clients or employers could work well for you.
Examples of career goals
- An example of a FINANCIAL goal could be: I want to be making a minimum of $4000 per month in 12 months’ time
- An example of a CLIENT-BASED goal could be: I want to have 5 regular or retainer clients in 12 months’ time
- An example of a WORK-RELATED goal could be: I want to be working for a certain type of company/magazine/journal OR I want to be working for a company that aligns with my core values before the end of the year
- An example of a LIFESTYLE goal could be: I want to have my weekends free to enjoy my family and I want to have enough spare time to exercise 3 days per week
Brainstorming your health writing career goals
These time-specific questions can help you to brainstorm goals:
- What do you want to achieve in 3 months’ time?
- What do you want to achieve 12 months’ time?
- How much money do you want to make in your first year in business?
- How many clients do you want to have in your first 6 months of business?
- How many days per week do you want to work on your freelance health writing business?
- How could you find work with health-related brands and businesses who have similar values to you?
Questions to determine whether your goals are worthwhile
For each goal you set, ask yourself:
- Is your goal SMART?
- Do you really want this goal?
- What is the purpose of this goal?
- What are the benefits of achieving this goal?
- How will you measure goal achievement?
- What could impact you on reaching your goal (eg financial issues, skill limitations)
- What will the impact be if you don’t achieve your goal?
Do you have goals for your freelance health writing business or in your overall writing career?