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  • Writer's pictureSebastian Brown

New Year, New…something?

My rules for starting the year right.

Going into the new year is always an important time, we feel refreshed and regenerated after an indulgent Christmas break, we set goals to help ourselves feel motivated and excited for what the new year can bring, and we often put into action the pieces of our lives / businesses / careers that we put on hold in December because...well because it just feels weird starting new things in December.

But, if your anything like me, then you've noticed this year that your social media, in fact much of the world around you, seems to be obsessed with the idea of marking the goals from last year, counting your achievements on very comparative lists, setting the bar high for the year ahead, and announcing your achievements to the world so that everyone can see how well you're doing.

Of course its important to celebrate the wins, and if you run an individual creative based business that actually earns you a living in todays economy, then as far as I'm concerned, you should be celebrating. But that doesn't mean that this is necessarily a healthy way to start your year. And I know for a fact that some of my vo colleagues aren't feeling quite so positive as they compare their businesses to others.

So here is a quick rundown of some essential ideas, and how I am deciding to treat myself going into 2023.

1. There's more to your business than goals...

Is it just me or have we all gone goal crazy? Now of course, having goals and driving your business forward is important, but the very nature of a goal creates an end game.

What happens once you've achieved that goal? Do you make another one? Do you have goals behind your goals to back up your goals? I think something that I've been trying to teach myself, is that goals don't provide value, they provide self esteem and achievement, but value provides value.

So this year, I've decided to reframe my goals and work within the idea of steps, helping to alleviate some of the unnecessary pressure that I put on myself.

For example, I'd like to move towards increasing my commercial work, so some of the steps I'm going to take are :

  • creating a new commercial reel that targets the work I want to pursue.

  • marketing my new commercial reel to commercial production companies.

  • actively auditioning for more commercial projects.

  • connecting with appropriate enterprises via social media.

So instead of putting pressure on yourself to have a huge list of end goals, why not reframe things, and think of them as steps.

2. Measuring Success

Now we all seem to have this idea that we have to measure our sucess in order to evaluate how our business is doing, because exponential growth is the only option right? Right? More more more! But of course once you have measured something, the only way to evaluate it is to compare it, either to yourself, or to someone else.


The success of your business, and by extension, the value you attach to yourself as a creative, cannot be measured or evaluated by comparing your work to that of someone else's. Read that again, and again, and then once more to make sure you understand it.

One of my pet peeves (and there are several well known VO's who do this) is people who have job counters. So at the end of the week the can say I did 12 / 23 / 500 voiceover jobs. Or however many they need to validate themselves. But sucess is not based on quantity, and neither should your life be.

So, how am I measuring my success going into 2023?

- Did I provide my client, new or old, with exactly what they asked for?

- Did I work within a sector that I am passionate about?

- Did I do work that I am proud of and excited to share?

- Did I hold true to my business practises and maintain professional rates?

- Did I enjoy the job?

If I can answer yes to one or more of these, then I am going to consider it to be a success.

Of course finances are important, but I think its also important to remember that just because last month you earned less than the month before, doesn't mean it wasn't a success.

Freelance life is up and down, so try to measure your success in multiple ways to keep your mindset on top form.

3. Time Blocking

How are you dividing your time going into the new year?

One of the things that I started doing last year far more frequently was blocking my time. Instead of sporadically moving from one task to another, or stopping in the middle of things to go and quickly do something else (which inevitably turned into a much bigger task), I focused my time more specifically.

Some say 'control your schedule, or it'll control you?' And while I do believe that you have to find a way that works for you, time blocking helped me to focus on the task at hand, not deviate, and get more focused work done during the day.

As you can see from the graph above, time blocking focuses your time more directly. So when I set one or two hours aside for marketing, I turn my phone over, I switch off my emails, and I focus on that task. And I also tend to work in 2-3 hour blocks before taking a 15 minute break, to try and keep my focus as much as possible.

If you haven't given time blocking a try, then why not see how it could affect your schedule going into the year ahead.

4. What if no one had ever told you you couldn't...?

This is something that I heard towards the end of last year, and I decided to bring forward into my 2023 plan. I asked myself this question several times before its meaning really hit me.

What if I had no doubts about my ability? No concerns about the quality of what I could produce?

And the truth one has ever told me that I couldn't, apart from myself that is. And luckily I am in control of me!

So moving forward into 2023 I would urge you to not only be careful about your goals, measure your success within reason, and start time blocking; but I'd also remember that you're the only one telling yourself you can't.

Happy voicing folks.

Singing out, SBVO

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