As I write this, 2020 is almost over. Hooray! And… it’s very likely that you didn’t accomplish all you set out to do this year. If you did meet your goals or even surpass them, you deserve tremendous credit. But if you didn’t, read on. (And join the club.)

Earth in danger

We self-employed professionals like to set goals for ourselves at the beginning of each year. I know I do this every January. You may have chosen at the start of 2020 certain targets you wanted to hit – like a dollar amount earned, number of clients acquired, or number of hours booked.

You may also have planned out projects, like updating your website, expanding your mailing list, or launching a blog. On top of that, there may have been tasks you swore you’d get better at performing this year, like keeping your bookkeeping current or clearing your desk at the end of the day. And then, 2020 happened, and everything but the most urgent items on your to-do list fell by the wayside.

If any of this rings true for you, cut yourself some slack. This year brought a global pandemic, economic hardship, social unrest, fire and flood disasters, and in many areas, contentious elections. Someone in your family may have lost a job or your business income may have plummeted. You may have had to unexpectedly home school your kids. People you care about may have gotten ill or even died. If there were ever a time when you had an excuse or two not to follow through with your plans, this is it.

Even if you met none of your goals for the year, this doesn’t mean you didn’t have a successful 2020. Because as a self-employed business owner, you get to define what success is. You also get to redefine it. As needed.

Set aside what you thought was important last January. Those plans were made in a different universe. What does success look like right now, today?

It may be as basic as keeping your family healthy, a roof over your heads, and food on the table.

Success might look like keeping your business operating at any level despite everything that happened this year.

Or it might look like completely reinventing what you do to match current conditions.

It could even be simply that you got out of bed today and turned on the computer, regardless of how you felt.

Psychologists say that the source of most stress, discontent, and feelings of inadequacy is holding expectations that don’t match the reality of your situation. Wouldn’t you agree that any expectations you set for yourself at the beginning of 2020 are unlikely to match the reality of how your year is ending?

Whatever you were able to accomplish for your business this year, celebrate it! This is one time that you can take credit simply for showing up. Any achievements beyond that deserve a row of gold stars.

Success can look like whatever you want it to. The happiest way for you to end 2020 will be to declare yourself successful.

C.J. Hayden, MCC, CPCC, is the author of the bestseller Get Clients Now!: A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches, Since 1992, she's been helping self-employed professionals survive and thrive. C.J. is the author of five other business how-to-books, and has taught marketing at Mills College and John F. Kennedy University. Find out more about C.J.'s books and courses or attend one of her upcoming programs.

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