Friend: “What are your goals for the new year?”
Me: *panic settles in as I realize that I haven’t created the space to think about my goals or what I want my new year to look like, thus setting me behind everyone else and painting me a schmuck*
Me: “Uh, I don’t know yet!”
Setting Goals Can Be Difficult
I’m not sure about you, but setting goals can be a challenge for me. When I’m tasked with setting goals my brain instantly starts to think, “What should my goals be as a female 22-year-old marketing professional?
It’s difficult to remove myself from the should of goal setting, or even know where to begin. Not to mention when I finally do settle on goals, they stay at the forefront of my mind for 2 months tops and then dwindle away. And I’m guessing for you and your business, you face similar challenges.
This is why for the past two years my approach to the new year has looked a little different. Rather than spending copious amounts of time thinking forward, I spend more time looking back, reflecting and thinking about how the past year has brought me to where I am now. I then channel that reflection into a few high-level areas of focus that direct my smaller goals throughout the rest of the year.
So, that being said, here are Lizzie’s 6 steps for New Year reflection:
- Think chronologically about the past year and in doing so, note all of the new things you learned and people you met. This can be as BIG or as SMALL as you want it to be. Did you finish a new certification? Did someone give you a key piece of business advice that you carried with you? Why was it significant to you?
- Consider all of the serendipitous moments from your previous year. What wouldn’t have fallen into place if other things hadn’t happened to set it up that way? What DIDN’T fall into place that, in hindsight, was ultimately good?
- What were your lows? Is there any commonality between them? For example, if all of the moments you had in your year where you felt stuck or uninspired had to do with the same concept or idea, make note of that.
- What were your highs? Was there any commonality between them? For example, if all of the moments from your previous year that brought you the most success were times when you were playing to a specific strength, make note of that.
- What do you need to release? We don’t have control over everything, and sometimes you need to know when to walk away. What could be left behind in the previous year?
- What remained consistent throughout the year? Who was always ready to show up for you? What positive metrics were unwavering and what was the cause?
Narrow Your New Year Focus
Now that you’ve reflected, what do you do with all of that? So glad you asked! Let that reflection guide your forward-thinking. At the start of the year, set thematic areas of focus. In the book, Atomic Habits, James Clear writes:
“Eventually, I began to realize that my results had very little to do with the goals I set and nearly everything to do with the systems I followed.”
Reflecting and setting focus helps you improve the system as a whole.
Let’s say that you had gotten positive feedback last year after a really great member event. People were really happy that space was created where members could convene and connect. You could look at that success and say “Well, let’s hold that event again!” Or, you could leverage that success to identify the fundamental enjoyment of face-to-face connection, and find new ways to provide that for members. That new year focus could be “Create more tangible spaces for members to feel connected.”
High-level areas of focus don’t have starts and ends. You can’t finish doing them, check them off your list, and remove them from your brain. Once I set my areas of focus, I keep them posted in my office, and they become a means of calibration for me. Reflection is absolutely pivotal for learning and growing. How much time have you taken to reflect on the past year of business and learn from your wins and losses? If you have, did you just make note of it, or do you have a plan to carry those things forward?
When you are in a reflective mindset, new year’s ambitions become much less checklist-like. Rather than chasing goals that provide a fleeting sense of accomplishment, you’re left with lasting aspirations that lead to more business growth and vitality, and often result in those smaller more measurable successes.
Struggling to hone in on your focus and how your business will continue to grow? Let’s reflect together.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Søren Kierkegaard