How I Planned for 2018
Set Better Goals
People often ask me about the kinds of tools that I use in my business for planning. First of all, we just wrote the Big Plan for the Creative Mind book where we interviewed a lot of experts in the ‘goal setting and productivity’ realm. There are really cool tools out there to use. Actually, I use a lot of them! I also get a lot of questions from people asking me how I can possibly use all of these tools and use them effectively. You know what? That’s fair enough. Often I don’t use all of them to their fullest potential. However, I wanted to share with you why I choose the tools that I do, how I use them and how I feel like I get a return on each of the investments that I make.
Tools that I use
I use different tools like PowerSheets, the Fresh Start Workbook by Amber McCue, the Planathon, Lisa Jacob’s Your Best Year planner and more! I also have planning tools. For example, inkWELL Press’ Weekly Kickstart (which I’ve talked about before) and their liveWELL planner. The one I use is actually the academic year calendar!
So, how the heck does one person use all of these tools?! It’s kind of mind-boggling, right? Let me break it down for you.
At the end of each year—around quarter four or October/November—I start to think about what I want to do at the end of this year.
- What do I want to achieve by the end of 2017?
- What are my hopes and goals for the next year?
I start to compile a list of things, think about them, download them onto my journaling and morning activities, and write them in my morning pages (sometimes I write three pages in my journal just free flowing). Reflection is a key part of how I process information.
One of the things that I do to make sure everything is moving forward is looking at my tallies of what I loved doing this year and what I want to be doing more of. It starts to become more of a solidified thing. What I don’t do but people expect me to is to sit down, do some planning and then be done with it. My process actually takes a couple of months. Let’s say I’d start around the beginning of October—my planning wouldn’t finish until about mid-December. It takes time to process and marinate on an idea then a plan.
The process that I take requires a lot of reflection. There is a lot of thinking about what happened during the year, what I want to get out of the following year and so on. It requires me to spend some time each day or each week digesting what I’ve done and what I want to be doing.
So, I use the tools like the PowerSheets, like Fresh Start, like Your Best Year in order to navigate what is happening. If I pick up PowerSheets and work through the reflection section, I might be in one place. Then, I take that information and go process it again in the Fresh Start Workbook through more of a business lens. Finally, I take that information and reflect it again in the Your Best Year workbook. One thing I don’t do at this stage is complete the workbooks. I don’t try to fill in everything or else that would be overwhelming.
After all of that, I’ve really fine-tuned and processed and gotten more clarity on each of those things. In that process I might be coaching with people, my own coaches or my mentors to say, “Okay, what can I be refining\?” I might be having conversations with my mastermind about what goals should I be taking on for next year. It’s the reason why I use multiple systems. Because sitting down and just doing it once, doesn’t cut it for me. I have to process, reprocess and regurgitate so that if I missed something the first time, it might get caught in the second or third round.
It’s not a perfect system by any means! But this is how I typically like to do it. If this is the kind of planning system that you also like—or maybe you’ve been missing out on—I’d say that you don’t need to rush out and buy all of the tools. But I would give yourself plenty of time to think about the things that you really loved this year, what didn’t work and what you hope for next year.
How I do my planning
I reflect on what went well. What didn’t go well. I look at the CEO Report. How did this year feel?
My very first step in my planning process is to reflect on what went well. A tip that I have for myself that I use in my business—and a tip for you—is to do a CEO Card. You’re probably thinking, what the heck is a CEO Card? Right?
Well, I have a TypeForm where I created a survey for myself. It’s on my calendar at 3pm on Fridays to complete every single week. So by the end of December, I have 52 entries where I document what happened that week, what I accomplished, how I was feeling, what went well, who I was encouraged by. I have data. I have a lot of information about the trends of the year, how much money I was making, a roundup of all the things I was thinking in my head and whether I felt like I was able to stick to my intentions. I also document what things went well in my business, what I accomplished and what were the frustrations, challenges, and pain-points that I was feeling that week.
I also do a life check-in. Whether it’s family, meals, cleaning my house, marriage, my health. Checking in on all of that is really important to me! As well as everything else, I host the Heart Centered Biz Bosses group and so I want to make sure that the prompts I did went really well. I look at the data and analytics there too.
My last question is, “Your word of the year is ‘Purposeful Focus’—are you living that out?” You can have a reminder to ask yourself that. You don’t want to just set a word for the year and forget about it (hey, no judgement)! It’s a way for you to intentionally check in on it every single week.
Look at my numbers. This reinforces #1.
The second step in the process is looking at my numbers. Looking at numbers reinforces step number one—what went well, what didn’t and so on. When I talk about looking at numbers, that means looking at profit and loss statements.
- How much revenue are you making?
- How much money did you not make?
- How much did you think you were going to make but did/didn’t?
It’s important to look at all of that and see if you met your projections or if you didn’t. If you use Google Analytics, it’s important to review that data as well. Or maybe if you tracked marketing metrics, take a look at those numbers.
- How much did my Instagram grow?
- Did my newsletter gain more readers?
- How many opt-ins did we get for lead magnets that we have up?
- Did we get more people into the Heart Centered Biz Bosses group?
This is all really important data! These are things that I keep track of in my business and are the numbers that reinforce what went well and what didn’t.
Another number—not really one that I track, but I still look at the end of the year—is how sick I got. How stressed did I feel? It’s not really a number but it’s still something to keep an eye on in the CEO Report Card. I’d definitely encourage you to think about that one too! If you can assign yourself a number from 1-10 of how stressed you felt or how great you felt, what number would it be? You can look at that afterwards and see the trend at the end of the year.
How much do I want to make next year? I do a budget projection. First the foundations. Then the Easter Egg Hunt for Money.
My third question is, “How much do I want to make next year?” I have to do a bunch of projections and it’s the way I decide how much hustle I have to bring to my business! And if I’m not willing to do that hustle, how much can I outsource?
So, looking at my business—how much do I want to be making this year? When I look at my budget projection, I usually have a minimum standard of how many clients I need to make my baseline target. And then if I make more than that, from launching or speaking at conferences—whatever it might be—then I can sprinkle that in and make sure that they’re goals too.
It becomes an Easter Egg Hunt for making money in your business. You have a solid foundation and build up from there. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, then let’s say you need 2 clients each month. And if you have 2 clients per month at $3,000 then how much does that mean at the end of the year? You just need to focus on getting those 2 clients each month. Knowing that your baseline is a little bit more than that number means that you need to have an extra project here and there throughout the year. Or maybe you’ll do a cash injection to make sure you’re making those goals at different intervals!
You know how there’s some seasons where you don’t want to work as much? Maybe during the summer while your kids are home. Or maybe during the holiday season when you’re like “Nope, checked out, don’t want to work!” Maybe in the Spring or right before the Summer? Whenever it is, those are great times when you can do some cash injections into your business and find opportunities for budget expansion. I would definitely do an Easter Egg Hunt for money. We’ve created a set of awesome templates that I use in Reina + Co and use with my clients. If you use these, you can be pretty confident that you’ll make more money in your business next year.
Find my focus: Selling. Developing the brand. Growing me.
Finding your focus is figuring out what things you’re going to focus on for the next year. Here are some things that you might think about:
- What do you want to be selling?
- How do you want to be developing yourself?
- How do you want to be developing your brand?
I usually think about Vision, Strategy and Tactics—in that order! If you were to think about the vision that you have for your business, what things would you be selling? What things in you would you be growing? What things would you be growing in your brand? Those are things that I want you to think about so you can find your focus.
This is an opportunity for you to think strategically so you’re not looking around at your competition and thinking “Ummm, I want to be doing exactly what she’s doing because that looks super cool!” It’s really an opportunity for you to think more proactively rather than reactively. So, find your focus!
I typically set 3-4 big picture goals. It seems like a lot, but it’s not. It really allows me to focus on those things. Maybe it’s one per quarter or simultaneously two at a time. It creates a lens that I can look through to make sure that I’m focused on those things and those things only.
So, how do I even get to the point of finding my focus? I go back to #1. I look at the Power Sheets that I used and the Fresh Start workbook that I used and the Your Best Year planner—and then I pull out the pieces that I’m finding.
- What did I want to do more of?
- Where can I make a little bit more money?
- How can I serve my clients a little bit better?
- How can I serve a new group of people better?
I find the solutions from there. Do not start from the tactics of wanting more visibility because I want you to think about where do you even want visibility in the first place? Where do you want to be stretching your marketing time?
Block out times of the year for down time
Before you put anything down on paper—in terms of calendars—I want you to block out times of the year where you want down time. Maybe you want to take a really great summer vacation? Maybe you want to take a sabbatical? Maybe you know that February and March are really hard times in your business because your 9-5 job has a really busy season and you have to work a lot of long hours at that time. Whatever it is, I want you to think about when your down time is where you want to slow down your business.
This is for scaling up other parts of your life or summer time when you want to be scaling up on your luxury time—stuff like that. I want you to slow down and figure out what those times are.
Pick anchors + launch dates (for each quarter)
What I mean by anchor is the amount of products or dollars that you need to be selling in order for you to meet your baseline goal. If you’ve been in business for a couple of years, then this is a great place to start. You already have your LY (Last Year) numbers so look at those and figure out what you need to do accordingly.
For example, in 2016, I had 12 clients. I reduced that number by almost half in 2017 but I also raised my prices and included a different service. So, what is that going to look like? If you did the second point well where you looked at your numbers, this one is going to be pretty simple for you. So, pick your anchors.
Using the same example from above, if you’re a graphic designer with 2 clients per month over the course of 11 months—because you want to take one month off—then you have 22 clients that you want to serve throughout 2018. That’s your anchor. Then, maybe you’re launching a program twice in 2018. What are those launch dates? Maybe it’s going to be March 18th or September 20th? Whatever it is, I want you to decide either a specific date or at least a specific month and what each quarter is going to necessitate.
Leave room for flexibility and fun extras
Yes, I plan a goal for each quarter—and I know what I’m doing in each one. But I also leave a lot of room for fun extras. I leave room for collaborations, impromptu vacations, pop-up services, random inspiration that might come along that I can use to develop my brand better! So, leave room for those fun things in order for you to not feel stifled. This way you can continue to be creative and engaged in the way that you love to build your brand.
I hope this is helpful and I can’t wait to hear how you use the tools that you use and how you’re going to be going about developing your business. I have a tool for you that includes the CEO Report Card and includes the planning templates that I use in my business—so you can start planning 2018 and make it the most impactful year yet.
Use these 7 Templates in your business to make more money, know what to focus on, and figure out what you need to be doing next year!