My 2024 Reflection & Goal Planning Template

My 2024 Reflection & Goal Planning Template

Embracing the transition from one year to the next fills me with a sense of joy and anticipation. For me, it offers a golden opportunity for introspection. While I recognize that time is ever-flowing and a mere calendar shift doesn’t encapsulate our essence, it serves as a valuable juncture to delve deep and reflect.

It gives us a moment to discern what brought us fulfillment, what left us wanting, and be really thoughtful about what we want in the next year of our lives.

This year, I spent a lot of time crafting a personalized reflection and goal-setting template, experimenting with various iterations until I discovered the process, outline, and structure that resonated most with my journey.

While sharing my process, a number of you expressed your desire to use the same document, so here I am extending an open invitation for you to use this same framework.

Follow the guidelines below, or tailor it to reflect your unique aspirations. Whatever you choose, I’m wishing you success in 2024, whatever that looks like for you.

Notes on how to use this document

  1. Start with reflections
  2. Let those guide you into what you want 2024 to look like at a high level
  3. Outline your 4-5 categories of goals (personal wellness, money, etc.)
  4. Write down your high-level guiding phrase(s) and word
  5. Fill in goals beneath each

*You may need one additional layer to further map out how you’re going to meet those goals.

Examples:

Guide words: abundance, intention, contentment, growth

Guiding phrases: I will build deep, meaningful relationships. I will be more aware of my spending habits in order to grow wealth. I will prioritize my own physical and mental well being above all else.

Follow along with me on social for more goal-setting, business, and wellness tips:

If you’re a google docs user, here’s the link so you can easily copy & start working.

And if you want to see my filled-out version of this doc, my vulnerable reflections and aspirations, they’re all finalized here.

2023 Reflections

(1-2 sentences)

  1. What did you love about 2023?
  2. What made you feel good in 2023?
  3. What did you struggle with in 2023?
  4. Which decisions had positive impacts?
  5. Which decisions steered me off course?
  6. What do I want to take with me from this year?
  7. What am I ready to let go of?

 

2024 High Level

(1-2 sentences)

What do I want the next year of my life to look like?

 

2024 Goals

High-Level Guide Word:

High-Level Guiding Phrase: 

 

Category Example 1: Personal Wellness

Guiding Phrase:

3-5 Goals:

1.

2.

3.

Category Example 2: Relationships

Guiding Phrase:

3-5 Goals:

1.

2.

3.

 

Category Example 3: Money

Guiding Phrase:

3-5 Goals:

1.

2.

3.

Category Example 4: Fun

Guiding Phrase:

3-5 Goals:

1.

2.

3.

 

Accountability

Fill this out, print it and put in your office.

Reflect back bi-weekly or monthly to assess progress.

 

How to Make Your Portfolio Stand Out: Tips and Tricks for Creative Professionals

How to Make Your Portfolio Stand Out: Tips and Tricks for Creative Professionals

This is a guest post contributed by Sophia Bennett.  Sophia is a skilled chronicler of the world of business and real estate. With a sharp eye for detail and a passion for these subjects, she provides valuable insights and inspiration to her readers through her writing. When she’s not working on her craft, Sophia can be found seeking new experiences and adventures, always on the lookout for the next great story to tell.

If you’re a creative in the freelance world, your portfolio is a foot in the door, your business card, and one of your best marketing tools, all rolled into one.

And in order to succeed in creative spheres like graphic design, photography, and fine art, you need to effectively represent your past and present work. With a strong, visually enticing portfolio, you can give potential clients a window into your style and make it easy for interested collaborators to understand who you are and what you do before making contact.

However, creating a portfolio isn’t as simple as just uploading HD images onto a website. If you really want to stand out, it’s important to follow some best practices.

Below, we’ll walk you through the basics of creating a portfolio that wows your audience.

 

7 Ways to Elevate Your Creative Portfolio

Differentiation is key for any creator.  The freelance market is booming, which means competition for gigs can sometimes be fierce. Instead of letting that dissuade you from jumping in, consider it a motivating factor to niche down and refine your creative identity. Stand out. Be bolder with your offerings. And get really clear on who you want to serve. Then let your portfolio tell that story.

From adding personal touches to creating a seamless user experience, here are some simple steps you can take to make your portfolio distinctive and impactful.

1. Establish your unique style.

The first and most important point to remember: Don’t mimic other portfolios you admire.

Of course, there will always be vague similarities, since most of us are using online templates these days. But cultivating an original style, palette, and aesthetic is key to highlighting your portfolio as a frontrunner. Maintaining a fairly cohesive style across your portfolio, social profiles, and website also helps tie your whole brand together neatly and make a strong impression. It adds a level of professionalism that ups your odds of being hired.

2. Select your best work.

You must resist the temptation to upload every single image of every single project you’ve ever created. If you don’t love it, don’t load it. While there’s some value in demonstrating your range, the strongest creative portfolios are typically a small sample of an artist’s or creative’s best work, not a chopped salad of everything.

Make it easy for potential clients to understand who you are and what your work is all about by choosing to display only your most successful and accomplished projects. And be sure to choose the ones that you actually enjoyed working on! If you want to magnetize even more aligned opportunities, highlighting the most fun and rewarding projects will help attract more like them.

If you’re not sure which images of your work are the strongest, consider asking a trusted colleague or friend which works they think best represent your style and capabilities.

3. Make it personal by sharing a bit about yourself.

The best portfolios don’t just showcase a creative professional’s work — they also introduce you to the creator. Giving people a window into who you are helps bring your work to life.

This is crucial because no one else has lived your story — it’s completely, 100% unique to you.

This means it’s also your secret weapon. Use it to network, draw potential clients in, and engage with them on a more emotional level. Reserve a small part of your website or PDF portfolio to share a little bit about your background, inspiration, goals, and personality.

Remember: People choose to work with people, not portfolios. So while your work should lead, it’s you who will seal the deal.

4….But don’t share too much.

Oversharing is a no. It’s also important to remember that too much focus on yourself can be just as unhelpful as too little.

Don’t go deep on your childhood, your role models, and where you see yourself in five years — those are the sorts of questions you can answer if asked directly by an interested client. Instead, focus the bulk of your attention on your work and let the rest speak for itself.

5. Focus on great UX and UI.

If your creative portfolio is on a website as opposed to a PDF, you can make it stand out by creating an excellent User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design.

Nothing sours you on work faster than a hard-to-navigate and slow-to-load portfolio. Clients want to see your work, and they want to see it fast. If necessary, hire a professional designer to build or streamline your portfolio for you. It’s worth it!

6. Update your portfolio regularly.

Constant creative evolution is important.

A good portfolio should be treated as an ongoing project, not just a proposal you send off once and then forget about forever. Just like you, your work is continuously evolving, and your portfolio should reflect that.

Review it every 3-6 months to see if there is anything you can change, update, or improve upon to better match the current you.

7. Promote your portfolio online.

Finally, don’t forget to promote your portfolio and make it easy for people to find online. If clients can’t access your portfolio easily, they’re going to be less likely to get in touch.

Choose your channels based on your niche. If you’re building up your product photography portfolio and want to get more views, LinkedIn is a great place to connect with businesses that might need your services. If you’re a graphic designer focusing on the fashion industry, Instagram can help you to connect with influencers in your niche. Whatever you do, be sure to promote yourself in all the right places.

The Takeaway: Your Portfolio Portrays Your Professionalism

Knowing how to market your work is essential for any creative freelancer.

Your portfolio is how potential clients are introduced to your skills. And putting your best foot forward is the best way to garner consistent, positive attention.

By cultivating a unique style, carefully curating the images you use, focusing on quality UX, and promoting your work in the right places, your portfolio can stand out from the crowd and get you hired.

Why Freelancers Should Care About Branding

Why Freelancers Should Care About Branding

Nowadays, given the competition in nearly every industry, it’s essential for freelancers and companies to put extra effort in to stand out in a crowd. Branding helps you carve a unique identity and perception in the minds of consumers through visual elements, intentional content, and messaging.

This is why companies invest heavily in branding-related efforts. Case in point, many companies rely on brand managers. These professionals provide expertise and guidance to help create a distinct identity and build credibility. Their ability to understand the market, create effective marketing strategies, and maintain a consistent image is essential for long-term success.

But branding is not only limited to larger companies. It’s also helpful for solopreneurs in light of the freelance sector’s growth. To date, there are over 70 million freelancers in the U.S., and this number is expected to exceed 90 million by 2028. While that might sound daunting, investing in a freelance career is sure to reap plenty of benefits. Here are the most important ways branding can help you succeed with your freelance business.

Make your online presence stand out

First and foremost, branding helps you create a unique identity and differentiate yourself from your competition. A consistent and visually appealing brand image makes you easily recognizable and memorable. Plus, it enhances your professionalism and credibility. In today’s freelancing landscape, clients are seeking professionals who can deliver high-quality work consistently, and good branding helps showcase your best and most relevant work.

Moreover, branding helps you communicate your values and humanize yourself. Often, clients aren’t just looking for someone to complete a task — they also want to connect with you as a person. According to a study on consumer shopping habits by Stackla, 83% of consumers consider authenticity in brands they decide to support. By leveraging authentic branding and sharing your story, you can foster a genuine connection with your audience.

Attract your ideal client

Using targeted messaging and niche positioning is a powerful strategy if you’re seeking specific clients. By developing a brand that speaks directly to the needs, interests, and values of a particular niche, you can effectively draw in your target audience.

Tapping into cultural and societal trends helps with this too. That might mean speaking up about social issues that are important to both you and your audience. This is particularly important, as 64% of consumers around the world say that knowing a brand’s stance on current issues helps them decide between buying and boycotting, according to a survey by Edelman.

Justify setting higher rates

Good branding can help you demonstrate a consistent track record of success and satisfied clients, which in turn creates a strong argument for higher rates. When you portray a solid reputation, it enhances your perceived value. You can do this, in part, through careful attention to detail — a well-designed logo, a professional website, and compelling market materials. These all contribute to a cohesive and polished brand image, suggesting professionalism, reliability, and a commitment to quality. With consumers now seeing the value of quality over quantity, according to WGSN’s Future Consumer 2025 report, clients are more likely to be willing to pay a premium for the perceived quality and expertise that a brand represents.

Because pricing can be difficult for many freelancers, reporting by financial analysts can be helpful when developing a brand. Consider factors such as market demand, inflation, and competitor pricing when setting your rates.

Great branding isn’t just about appearances. It’s how you communicate your identity, your values, and your worth. Be sure to put some extra love and attention into yours. You won’t regret it.

 

Office Hours: Marketplaces 101: Navigating Online Job Platforms as a Freelancer

Office Hours: Marketplaces 101: Navigating Online Job Platforms as a Freelancer

Jai Dolwani, founder of The Starters, joined us for an Office Hours session about navigating the confusing world of freelance marketplaces.

We dove deep into how freelancers can leverage marketplaces at different stages in their careers, how to position yourself on a marketplace, making your profile stand out, and more!

Catch up on the session here:

 

Stay in touch with Jai on Twitter and LinkedIn!

 

Office Hours: The Power of Continued Education

Office Hours: The Power of Continued Education

Our pal and founder of Pollen, Hillary Bush, joined us for an Office Hours session about the importance of continued education.

We dove deep into why continued education matters, how you can dip your toes in, and what areas of growth we see freelancers who are serious about making a services business their long-term career focus on.

Catch up on the session here:

 

Stay in touch with Hillary on Twitter and LinkedIn!
And follow along with Pollen on Twitter and LinkedIn!