Create a plan and implement.
Essentially, that’s all there is to making 2019 a better year than 2018 (and any year you were in business before that).
Well that was easy … article finished, time to grab a cuppa!
Ha, if only.
If it was that easy, we’d all be swanning around in our flashy cars, planning our next exotic trip, working part-time hours for more money, whilst picking and choosing the clients we want to work with!
So how can you make each year better than the last?
By working through these five steps:
- Reflect on the last year and note what worked, didn’t work
- Figure out what it is you want – your vision for the future
- Then ask yourself why you want it
- Next, figure out the steps to take action toward that vision
- And finally, implement
This was a real eye-opener for me.
You see, before that, I was working out what I wanted from the year ahead without any real context. Of course, we all want to increase our income year-on-year, so I’d plan to make an additional 10%, decide how I’d do it and just get on with it without thinking if the road I’d started down was still where I wanted to be.
So this style of planning was new to me.
Whereas before I’d look at the two obvious ways of achieving my ‘plan’:
- Increase my rates
- Gain a new client or more
So I’d plan to do that and in the new year, take action to achieve my goal, without any real thought.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is merit with that approach. Certainly if it works for you and you’re content in your professional life, then keep going.
But for me, it wasn’t making me happy. And I realised – through many self-improvement books, webinars, podcasts and soul searching – that it was because I didn’t have a clear vision for me.
I was being pulled along by society. By the success of other VA’s. By friends and family.
Ultimately thinking that I had to continually build my business to make more money, doing the same thing over and over and over again.
What I discovered though, through my soul search for the ‘perfect‘ life, was that my current life wasn’t for me anymore.
And that’s where taking a more holistic approach to planning or goal setting, helps.
But don’t worry, this style of planning won’t mean you’ll start down a new path too, unless you want to! All it’s aimed to do is give you a clearer vision for the road ahead.
And if you’re content with what you do and business is going well, this five-step approach can still be beneficial in making your next year even better than the last.
Here’s what it looks like:
What was 2018 like for you?
Did you achieve the income you desired? Are you working on projects that excite and interest you? Do you like the clients you support? Do you feel relatively secure? Are you getting enough of a work / life balance? Were there any disappointments?
Now write down your answers.
Spend time on this exercise, you may be surprised at what jumps out at your over the last year. If it helps, take a look at the tasks you ticked off or emails with clients.
The aim is to have completed a thorough analysis to help formulate a plan for the year ahead.
Then finally, listen to how this has made you feel.
Perhaps you’re feeling proud at having achieved so much over 12 months. Or frustrated that you’re not quite where you want to be.
Whatever feelings arise, listen to them. They’re the only way to learn and improve.
You can’t move forward without having a good idea of what you want for your future. However big or small. So next it’s time to look at all areas of your life and decide how you want each one to be.
Here are six key life categories you could focus on first:
- Health and fitness
- Personal / spiritual
What do you see for each of those?
Personally, I like to use a vision board for this exercise, but you may prefer to write your thoughts down. Either way, I’d suggest doing something physical to help make it more tangible, rather than just another of a million random thoughts swirling around in your mind.
Then ask yourself, is what you’re doing right now or the way you’re working, helping you achieve each one of those categories?
Because one doesn’t happen without the other. For example, your career could be really taking off at the detriment of your health and fitness goals.
Or your finances could be looking great, but your relationships are drifting because you’re spending so much time working or being frugal.
Each tie in with the other, so get aligned with your true vision across all areas of your life to plan for the best year yet.
Can you articulate why you want what you want?
Trust me, it sounds easier than it is!
Because it’s not really about that initial ‘financial freedom’ or ‘to feel strong and healthy’, those are niceties.
The real why, will be something deeper than that.
For example, it could be that the reason you want to be financially free is because of how much your parents worked until late in life just to make ends meet and then were of too poor-health to enjoy retirement. Or the reason why you want to stay strong and healthy is to have the ability to be active with your grandkids in later life.
It’s so important to uncover the real reason behind your life vision in order to stay focused and to continue ploughing ahead, despite the little knocks that will inevitably happen.
So how are you going to get there?
By taking action.
And taking action means creating steps from where you are now, to that end vision.
The most common way of creating these steps, or mini-goals, is by using the SMART method.
Ideally you want to cover each of these for every goal you set.
Here’s two examples of a non-SMART and a SMART goal…
- Double my annual income
- Make £2,500 per month, after tax, within 6 months.
I’m sure you can see that outlining a specific goal which can be measured, is attainable and has a timescale attached, will make it so much easier for you to remain focused and achieve.
Okay, so you’ve …
- Reflected on the last year so you know what do’s and don’ts to replicate
- Got a clear vision of your future in mind
- Understand why you’re working toward that vision
- Created achievable steps to help you reach it
All that comes next is implementation.
I say ‘all’ as if it’s a walk in the park, when we all know this is when it gets hard. And it’s easy to revert to our default when things get hard, we procrastinate. But whatever you do, ignore it. Because that default ‘procrastination’ is simply fear getting in the way.
Fear of failure.
Fear of the unknown.
And even, fear of success, and what that leaves you aiming for.
Don’t let it win.
You’ve already got your mini-goals lined up, so pop them in a task scheduler, add deadlines and get to work.
Yes, it’ll take hard work and discipline – no one said making 2019 your best year to date was going to be easy – but if you’ve got a clear vision and outlined each step to get there, you will make it work.
And on that note, I’ll leave you with the words of the great Henry Ford:
“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”