A brand new year is here! It’s a clean slate and a fresh beginning. What you do with it is completely up to you.
If you’re the planning type, you probably know exactly what you’re going to accomplish in 2016. But if you’re the kind of person who has a million ideas in your head, you might not know how to get it all done.
Either way, I challenge you to actually step away from the goals or ideas and consider an often forgotten, and important part of the success equation:
What does your life to look like when your business goals are achieved?
A different take on goal setting.
Moving through life, it’s easy to get the constant societal messages that the only way to success is through a constant hustle (suffering), keeping busy, always striving for the next best thing. We often fail to celebrate what is, miss the moments that are really worth cherishing and life pass us by. It’s my guess that this competitive, cut-throat, tireless mentality is not working for you.
You left the corporate world or became a creative entrepreneur because you wanted something different. You dance to the beat of your own drum and I’m hoping that this post will help you to embrace that rhythm that drove you to desire something better, more fulfilling for yourself.
Setting goals without a clear vision of the “big picture” is like is like picking coordinates for your vacation without knowing the ultimate destination. You might want to drive to San Francisco from New York but without a GPS, you might be driving to Texas instead. Envisioning the life you want with a general idea of how to achieve it is crucial in feeling fulfilled while you’re on the path. Without it, you’re treading water with no shore in sight. Not understanding where you want to go, what life you want to live, or knowing your non-negotiables are what lead you to burnout . Spoiler alert: we want to avoid that!
Be critical of your goals.
Go back to that original list of goals (if you had one) and look at it with a new set of eyes.
I want to shoot 10 summer weddings.
I want to have 100 sales in my Etsy shop by Q2.
I want to make $100,000 in my business in 2016.
Do any of these goals sound familiar to you? If so, read on…
If you feel like you’ve been on a hamster wheel for the past year, you must be critical of your 2016 goals. Even though money is important, it isn’t always enough to maintain motivation or satisfaction. .
If you’re a chaser of perfection, this is even more true for you. Be critical of the goal you’re trying to achieve. Why are you setting out to achieve that goal? What are your intentions? Will you feel accomplished when you achieve your goal?
I’m not here to tell you that your goals are invalid, that they are wrong or that you’re setting your sights on things that aren’t important. My point is that you must paint a “big picture” in order to take the small steps that start you on the right path. You can’t set out to do something if you don’t know where you’re going. Gobs of money won’t buy you true wealth; even though it’ll cover the utility bill. The true wealth comes from genuine satisfaction and fulfillment. You can make your life look perfect on Instagram or you can do the work and actually live in your “big picture.”
Like so many entrepreneurs, I wanted to achieve this mythical “success” in my first year of business. I had a general idea of what it looked like. I looked up and noticed that I had a full client roster, I had fantastic and consistent revenue and I was working until 10pm during the week and was checking instagram until almost midnight. It’s tough to step away sometimes because work is something we LOVE to do but after a while, it starts to drain you. Slowly, the 14 hour work days started to feel like they were taking over my life – I was canceling lunch dates, turning down fun opportunities because I felt like I couldn’t get away. I knew I had to make a change to stop the hamster wheel!
There’s a better way!
Set aside some time to daydream about your life. How does life feel when you are really happy? Who is around you when you feel truly accomplished? What things are you doing when you feel a sense of fulfillment? Think about your goals through this lens!
Some intentional quiet time (or a chat with a personal cheerleader) could spark some crazy sounding ideas about what you want out of life. Do you want to live in Paris for 6 months out of the year? Maybe you’d volunteer to do photography each month in the oncology unit at a local hospital. Perhaps you want to retire your husband from his awful, soul-sucking job so he can be happy. You might want to learn how to speak another language and hire a tutor to hold you accountable. Or you’ll finally plant that garden that you’ve been talking about for the past five years. Maybe you plan to pay off your student loans completely this year. Wild, right? And completely possible, if it’s what you want.
Your business supports these personal and lifestyle goals. Getting clear about what you want makes it easier to make changes in business or in your life to get you one step closer to that goal.
Deep Inquiries for Intentional Goal setting
Here are some questions that can help you in getting clear about your goals!
-If I was able to earn the money I need and desire for my life, how would I like to to earn it?
-If I were to achieve success, what would be present in my life?
-What would I need/want to learn in order to achieve what I want?
-Who do I need in my life in order to feel supported? (If it’s not an actual “who,” ask yourself what kind of people/what qualities in people would you need?)
-How will my accomplishments impact my life and the lives of others?
-What can you eliminate in order to get closer to your ideal life?
-Why is this goal important to me?
-How will this goal make me better in serving my clients?
Motivation & Accountability
What I know about many creatives is that it’s exciting and fun to dream up these projects. It’s fun to think of your name in lights but you get drained by the actual work it’ll take to get you there.
- Have a Project Goal: When it’s all said and done, what does it look like? This will guide your daily decisions. Did you ask yourself the questions (from the Deep Inquiries section above)?
- Break it down: Here’s the kicker. If it’s not small enough for you to be able to do it in 20 minutes – 1 hour, it’s TOO BIG. Break that sucker down. You’ll get a ton of satisfaction from checking off smaller items.
- Find an accountability buddy: Find somebody who really gets your work, your business, your goals.This person supports you, motivates you and gives you a little (or a lot) of tough love when you are feeling unmotivated. This accountability buddy can help you brainstorm with when you are feeling stuck!
- Put things into your calendar: Actually schedule time into your planner. That’s going to look different for everybody. It might work for you to put a project plan in Asana and schedule a meeting with yourself every first Monday of the month. Another way you can do it is to schedule time every week to manage your goals and see where the pieces you broke down in step 2 will fit during the course of the week. Find what works best for you and actually stick to it!
- Adjust your plan: By February 1, you might look at your goals and roll your eyes. Maybe it makes no sense for you to pursue the goal you wrote down. If that’s the case, don’t fret – your year isn’t ruined! Just figure out what part of that goal still holds true for you. If you went through the questions above, you’ll have a pretty clear sense of what still matters. You can meet up with your accountability buddy to talk through what’s changed and how you can change the goal and how you will plan to pursue it!
- Be kind to yourself: Nothing is etched in stone. If you need to scrap a plan, do it and set a new one. If you’re having a bad day and feel like a failure, promise to start fresh the next day. Make sure to maintain your intentions and cut yourself some slack.
I want to cheer you on as you claim these goals. What are your big goals for 2016?