Big Ideas

The curse of the GPS for freelance copywriters

By 12/10/2013August 12th, 202218 Comments

copywriting roadtrip

A few weeks ago I did a major road trip of about 1,400 miles without a GPS.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a GPS with me, but I didn’t even use it.

Instead, before I left, I wrote down the directions from my driveway in Verona, Wisconsin, to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Then on to stops in Birmingham, Nashville, Evansville, and Chicago.

And you know what? I didn’t get lost once. I was more engaged in the whole process, and I felt like I was in complete control of where I was going. I wasn’t getting “pulled along” by an automated system.

I was on a mission with clear directions already pre-set in my mind. I went after it with gusto, at just the right speed to keep me hitting my estimated arrival times without attracting unwanted police attention.

It’s the same way with our goals.

I’m convinced that if you don’t write out your goals ahead of time in great detail, and keep those notes with you every step of the way, you’ll get sucked into the “curse of the GPS.” That’s where you follow someone else’s plan like a GPS telling you where to go, versus you driving the car with a purpose.

Sure, it seems easier to have someone else give you directions of exactly how to get from point A to point B. You’ve seen “blueprints” and “road maps” to six figures, right?

But how many times do someone else’s directions not work out as planned? Why is that?

I think it’s because it’s a passive experience that happens to us. Whereas writing out our directions (our detailed goals and plans), internalizing those directions, then “driving them out,” is a much more active, engaged process.

Are you open to putting it to the test? Instead of just saying, “I want to make $100,000 as a freelance copywriter in 2014,” or “I want to increase my copywriting income by 15%,” take a couple days off here in December to plan out your year. Map out exactly what you need to do to hit it.

Put some deep thinking into this, and write out five things in great detail:

1. Your income goal for the year.

2. What that will look in terms of your daily, weekly, and monthly activity.

3. Your “slight edge,” or the one thing you’re going to do different.

4. Your “emotional purpose” (a topic I’ll go into greater detail on in an upcoming blog post).

5. Your reward for hitting your goal.

Map out 2014 now, instead of getting pulled along mindlessly by the curse of the GPS.

Press on.


Steve Roller

Author Steve Roller

I'm a business coach, author, copywriter, world traveler (33 countries on five continents so far), and professional speaker. In addition to helping companies get more customers and make more money, I help other writers create profitable businesses. I offer one-on-one coaching, professional copy critiques, and live, in-person business-building workshops. When I'm not writing, coaching, or speaking, I enjoy nothing more than hanging out with my wife and four kids and planning my next adventure.

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Join the discussion 18 Comments

  • This is a great piece, Steve. I love the device of the GPS as one of the many things that puts us on autopilot and can make us lazy, either as drivers or aspirationally.

  • Alan says:

    Thanks Steve, now I know what GPS stands for… Goals, Purpuse, & Specificity!

  • I don’t use a GPS at all (not even in my recent trip to LA). Hopefully this means I’m fully aware of where I’m going, as a driver and a freelancer!

  • Great post, Steve. Thanks for sharing! I worry that younger drivers will never learn to navigate because of their dependence on their GPSs. Good point that, as writers, we need to learn to navigate, too.

    • Steve Roller says:

      I’m convinced that ten years from now no one will be able to read a road map, or do anything without their iPhone, or drive a stick, or … surely it’s all a sign of the end times.

  • Love this post…I also dislike GPS. Took me smack into the middle of DC once when I was a trip north. I never used it again. I do not use calculators either….getting older and have to keep my mind sharp. As a writer I jot my daily goals on an index card. I love checking them off. When I complete them I reward myself….works for me!

  • Sean McCool says:

    One thing to keep in mind is that your goals need not be linear. In other words, if your goal is $100k in 2014, you are not likely to hit $8,333.33 in January. And if that’s what you expect, then you are likely to be disappointed in the first 30 days of the one year goal.

    the fact is, growth doesn’t happen in a linear fashion. It happens organically. It’s much more likely that you’l hit $15-$20k your last few months after plugging along at $3-5K for much of the year.

    Plan your goals. Plan your yearly $ target. But track your activity – not the dollars, at least not in the beginning.

    • Steve Roller says:

      You’re absolutely right, Sean. Thanks for pointing this out. My income is up and down every month (something I’m trying to work on smoothing out), so it’s better for me to focus on the activity. I know that over time it’s a law of averages.

  • Alex says:

    Who is this “someone else” who has magical powers and get us to follow his plan?

    • Steve Roller says:

      I was referring to authors of books and programs that have the steps all laid out, Alan. I’ve bought many of these types of things, and many are good. I just think we need to craft our own detailed plan from scratch sometimes.

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