The Twelve Month Success Challenge – UK Edition

by WordChazer

In January 2013, I accepted the suggestion to take the Twelve Month Success Challenge and see how I measured up.

It all started with my writing colleague Joni Rose, who thought it would be interesting if a few of us took a twelve month goal-setting challenge, similar to that set out in The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and incorporate some of the tools and exercises that Joni herself uses with her clients as a career coach.

Firstly, I had to decide which goals I wanted to achieve this year and agree to log how I managed to meet them, or not. I had to agree to be accountable and report in at least monthly, providing an update in the form of an article as soon as possible after the start of each new month. I should log my progress against my stated goals each month and see how I'd progressed since the last update. Yes, one of those accountability exercises. But fun, with no pressure attached.

The photo is from Geograph and is a mosaic celebrating the achievement of triple jumper Jonathan Edwards. Produced by artists Shannon Ridd and Jonathan Rodney-Jones, working with the people of Ilfracombe, the mosaic depicts Edwards' world record breaking jump, with a footprint within each mosaic circle indicating the points of take-off and landing. Edwards lived in Ilfracombe from 1976 to 1987.

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Having said these goals as an 'unofficial' New Year's Resolution last year, I felt I was ready to take this to the next level after a year spent exploring my options.

Step one is to agree to the challenge, and the requirements laid down in reporting it.

Steps two and three are to choose four indicators of success from the original list that complete the phrase ‘I feel successful when I have...’ and customise them to my own situation.

So, here goes. My four indicators are:


1. achieved a level of income

I will consider that I am successful as an editor/proofreader when I can match the income I used to earn in my part-time retail work.


4. obtained certain material possessions

I will consider that I am successful as an editor/proofreader when I can afford to pay for certain very necessary interior improvements to the house my husband and I own.


12. achieved independence or freedom

I will consider that I am successful as an editor/proofreader when I can afford to save money, no matter how little, every month.


13. achieved a level of security or commitment from a partner or employer

I will consider that I am successful as an editor/proofreader when I have regular work in the field.

Walk Another Step – Assign a Timeframe to the Indicators

Step four is to assign an indicator to each quarter of the year. That should be fairly easy, as I think they will naturally follow one on from the other, so 1 will be the first one to be achieved, as once I have achieved a steady level of income I can then look towards getting the improvement works done on the house, which will therefore mean that I have achieved that level of independence and can save or spend money knowing that I will be able to command a similar income next month. Thus, I am hoping that within two years I will have been able to act on the words a former colleague said when she advised me in April 2011 to look at editing as a better way to earn a second income than the retail which was such a trial. I wrangle words much better than I deal with people, she told me – and she’s so right. I can deal with people in person, but I prefer to deal with their words on the end of an email, if I’m honest.


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Step Five – The Revenue Recognition Rule

Step five is to determine my guiding principles for each quarter’s achievement, using something like what my current boss refers to as ‘the revenue recognition rule’. She means that I need to prioritise my action depending on how much money is at stake for the company. 

Starting with quarter one, that would mean that my guiding principles will have to explain how I am going to achieve the same level of income as I did in my retail work. As far as I see it, this is best achieved by bidding only for those one-off editing projects which will pay me enough to match this figure. Alternatively I could make a more cautious start by ensuring that I have enough ongoing and regular work to get me off the ground and bid for the medium size projects which will pay enough to put me closer to the goal, but which may be easier to aim for given that I’m starting out in this and still establishing a track record in some areas.

Taking the wording in the original article:

1. I can achieve an income of the same level as my retail work, for more or less the same number of hours a month and significantly less stress.

2. My editing skills are worth at least half the industry hourly average pay, even without a considerable track record.

3. I have editing contacts within my circle at the University and my personal friends outside of this. I should talk to them, use their advice to build my brand.

4. I should bid for the more expensive projects as long as I think I have time to complete them to the client’s timeframe and standards.

5. I must not abandon the lower-paying regular work unless I have to – it is where I learn my trade and get the widest variety of work to read and learn from, even if it is at cents/100 words.

6. I must remember to invoice regularly and in a timely manner! 

As instructed, I will continue to share my journey in the coming months. One thing I am hopeful of – that neither my husband nor I will ever need to return to part-time retail work. My clients so far have given me a huge confidence boost in that direction, hopefully the work I have done for them is as beneficial as the trust they put in me.

This article originally appeared on on 28 December 2012. It was removed at the writer's request in February 2013, and appears here with slight revision and additional photographs.

Updated: 12/25/2013, WordChazer
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WordChazer on 06/04/2014

Thanks...I have shelved the rest of the series for now, mainly because the freelancing took on its own life a year ago. If my dayjob boss gets his will and kicks me out of the department for some R&R disguised as TOIL when the deadline is past later this month, I shall spend the time finishing off these series I am half way through.

WordChazer on 12/13/2013

I need to write the rest of the series yet! I've managed to write up to August and not posted the last few. Mayabe around the Christmas decorations and cards this weekend?

AbbyFitz on 12/12/2013

I have pretty much let resolutions go by the wayside. I always forget them or lose interest not even a quarter of the way into the year. I do have goals that I set for myself if I want to achieve something specific, say steps to take to achieve a career change.

WordChazer on 03/19/2013

That's good to hear, seeing as it's a link in the article, Joni. Will make the changes to the words though, just to be sure I'm reflecting accurately. Do you have an active link to your original article still?

JoHarrington on 03/16/2013

Good luck with all of your goals! I'm watching, reading and cheer-leading from the sidelines here.

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