Here are the steps that, in my experience, are ESSENTIAL to a successful new year in business.
Step 1. Rest, recharge and reset
You need time to completely switch off from work (for me, that means going somewhere far away from my home city for a minimum of a week!). No work, no emails, and preferably, no social media. During this time you may think about work or you may not, and either way, that is perfectly ok.
When you get back, your first job is to work on your mindset and goals. Where are you now… where do you want to go? What type of thoughts about yourself, your work, and life in general do you need to get there? (Hint: thoughts that make you feel good about all these things are the ones that will give you the space and energy to come up with THE MOVES you need to succeed.)
- Do whatever it takes to get a complete break from your business and normal surroundings. You NEED space to breathe in order for brilliant ideas and energy to surface for the new year ahead!
- Schedule your social media during your holiday and then FORGET it. Unless you are highly controversial, you should be able to last at least a few days without checking that no-one is tearing down your business via nasty posts on Facebook! If you’re concerned, get someone else to keep an eye on things.
- Set an email auto-responder. Respect your break time and you will find that your customers respect it too.
- Do a massive cleanout – your computer, your office, your home, your wardrobe, your shed – better yet, rearrange your office furniture. It literally creates space in your brain and gives you a new perspective.
Step 2. Plan it
Nine times out of ten, if you fail to plan then you plan to fail. I truly believe that getting clear on your goals and the steps to get there, then focusing on why it CAN work, is the BEST way to get to where you want to go, fast. But it takes a lot of discipline – and this is why most people with plans still fail! Life gets in the way, and our plans get shoved to one side for a few days, then a few weeks, then it’s months… you get the picture.
For me, this year it was important to simplify my steps to reach my goals, so that I wasn’t overwhelmed with how much there was to do, before I’d even begun. I know I have a much better chance of succeeding with ease if I focus on one or two goals, and do only what’s most important to get there.
I recently created a killer marketing plan and schedule – a joint effort with a friend who also runs her own business. Putting our heads together, we picked out the best of each of our previous methods and created something clear, simple but thorough. I’m actually excited using it each week to stay on track with my marketing!
- Schedule at least 2 hours’ uninterrupted time at a peaceful location (I choose the beach) to brainstorm your goals and values. Get clear on your priorities.
- Seek resources – ideas, templates – from other clever business people to help organise your plans and ideas.
- Create a simple, do-able schedule to make sure you are addressing your top priorities every week.
Step 3. Just DO IT.
Those Nike ad people are very very wise. This is about getting up every day and doing what you’ve planned to do, no excuses. It’s about focusing on ONLY that and being in the moment, not worrying about the other stuff on your list until you’re done with the task at hand. Simple, but NOT EASY. I think (and I’m still working on this!) it’s about routine – it’s easier when you don’t even think about it, you just do it.
One of my routines that I am trying to stick to is spending 20 minutes sitting in nature and reading inspirational literature each morning. Sounds kooky but it’s so easy to do, and it means I have a calm and positive approach to each day. The days I fail to do this, I inevitably feel the day is a little less in my control!
- Get a coach, do a course, listen to motivational speakers online, read inspirational books, exercise, get in nature… do whatever works for you to get in the right headspace on a daily basis to get your goal steps DONE.
- Use lists and tick things off as you do them. Prioritise, keep it a realistic length, then just tick them off one by one.
- Start with the tough stuff – before the day gets busy and runs the risk of being hijacked by other people and events!
Step 4. Look back and celebrate
This is perhaps the toughest for me and for many business people I know – we are constantly asking, ‘What’s next?’ instead of pausing a moment to look back at what we’ve achieved.
A technique I’ve found useful is to set aside half an hour of ‘celebration time’ on a Friday afternoon around 4:30pm: just a short amount of time to be on my own before the weekend begins, to look back at what I’ve achieved and what I want to work on next (I like to do this with a glass of sauvignon blanc or if I’m on a health kick, a jasmine tea!). I physically write down what I did in a sort of ‘job well done’ list, then write down what I’ll focus on next week. It means I finish the week feeling good, and start the next one feeling organised and ready to roll.
- Use a gratitude journal to thank YOURSELF for the things you achieved this week. Feeling good about your work is a huge motivator to do even better.
- Reward yourself with a little treat at the end of the week 😉
- Take time to celebrate successes with others (my business mastermind group goes out for a fancy lunch at the end of each year to congratulate ourselves for being awesome women in business!)
It may seem obvious!
I know you’ll be reading this, thinking: ‘There’s nothing new here’, but I feel it’s worth reminding ourselves of these ‘obvious’ things that we rarely do superbly well. In fact, it’s been motivating writing it all down, solidifying my purpose for structuring my work the way I do.
Sometimes the toughest bit is finding ways to translate these principles into tools that work to make your life easier – like the marketing plan I co-created with my friend. I encourage you to make time to share ideas with other business people – it’s amazing how a small suggestion can change things. (If you want a more structured approach, part of my work with my clients is working through the steps of building and maintaining their personal and business brands, through my e-books, workshops and consulting. If you’d like to work together, I’d love to hear from you.)