It seems appropriate as the year ends, before a new one begins, that we reflect on what we’ve achieved over the last 12 months.
However personally, I don’t like to dwell on that too much.
Yes, there are definite lessons that can be learnt from reflection, both professionally and personally, but for me the greatest benefit at this time of year is by looking forward.
Where do you want your Virtual Assistant business to be this time next year?
Granted, it’s a pretty big question.
Or at least it seems like it is. At first.
Which is part of the problem with this exercise!
Of course it is worthy of some careful consideration, but let me give you one major pointer when it comes to this question.
Don’t set goals.
Yes and I’ll tell you why – goals almost never get met.
So when it gets to the end of the year and we look back, we’re disappointed. We feel like we haven’t achieved anything.
Even though, of course, we have.
With that in mind, how can you set out a plan that’s obtainable? How can you set ‘goals’ (although I’ll be changing that word a little later) that are achievable?
Well I’ll tell you how I do it.
I keep things simple.
And I’d advise you to do the same.
Follow these easy steps and I’m fairly certain that in 365 days you’ll be reflecting back with a smile on your face, before setting out a similar path for the following 12 months, and so on.
1. Don’t set goals.
I know I’ve said it already, but this really is the most important point.
Setting goals makes us think BIG. Probably much bigger than we would ordinarily, because we think it needs to be life-altering.
Financial. Professional. Physical. Social. Mental.
The pressure of it all, often means they’re too out of reach to be met.
So forget them.
Take the year off!
And try my alternative route instead.
2. Focus on projects.
Projects are smaller, generally. They’re achievable, almost always.
Think about creating projects. Then when you start that project, focus on it alone. It may take several weeks to actually complete the ‘project’, but you will be able to complete it and then move on to the next.
It’s a project.
It’s on your task list.
So it’ll get done.
For example, you realise the copy on your website isn’t hard-hitting enough. You create a project to give your website copy an overhaul. You give yourself a timescale. You schedule it in to your project diary, and this could initially be for just one hour per week. Then you get it done.
Or perhaps you want to master HTML. Schedule self-learning in to your project plan. Or join a course where you’re held more accountable so are more likely to commit. Then the time you’ve scheduled won’t slip by.
Or perhaps you haven’t done any new-business touting for a while. Your client list is a bit stale. You’re keen to work on some new projects. Schedule it in.
You get the picture.
What’s this really doing? Shifting your perspective a little.
From goals – too big, too stressful, too scary.
To projects – actionable, obtainable, successful.
3. Give yourself a purpose.
For each project you put in place, what is it’s purpose?
To improve your skillset, gain new clients, for some self-fulfilling reasons, or something else.
It doesn’t matter, just as long as you have one. And it means something to you.
Then when you’ve ticked another project off the list, you’ve also given yourself a reward. The reward of that new skillset, client or good feeling.
4. Understand the how.
How are you going to increase your skillset by learning HTML code?
Sign up to an online course. Exchange skills with someone qualified – offer them your VA services in return for their coaching.
How are you going to get those new clients?
Improve your website copy. Add a signup form to capture emails by offering a downloadable free guide in return. Create an autoresponder series.
How are you going to practice mindfulness?
Switch off all devices or go somewhere peaceful for five minutes every day to do nothing. Appreciate the sounds around you. Listen to the world. Live in the moment.
You get the idea.
Know the how, and the project will become so much easier to do.
For me, one of my projects for 2014 was to become a qualified copywriter.
The purpose: to be less of a slave to my laptop from 9 until 5 in order to have the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere in the world.
The how: join a couple of targeted copywriter networks, complete an online writing course and invest in a mentor programme.
I managed to run my business successfully for four months in Costa Rica during the summer, and I’m now looking forward to my SE Asia relocation in the New Year.
My VA clients have miraculously stuck by me – apparently they like me! And my copywriting clients are increasing, slowly but nevertheless, in the right direction.
My service offering is becoming more niche thanks to my fantastic mentor, and 2015 will be the year I smash this year’s income.
Oops, sorry that sounds like a goal.
Believe me though, it’s not.
It’s a certainty.
Without any of the goal-setting stress or scariness, because it’s my project for 2015.
So who’s with me?
Will it be a goal-setting start to 2015, or projects all the way?