I don’t think any of us could’ve imagined what lay ahead of us when the clock struck midnight on 31st December last year!
It’s been a bumpy road for sure but thankfully we’ve made it through this far AND there is light at the end of the tunnel.
I’m guessing that changes of some sort will be on your agenda for next year in part because it’s become clear that you need to do things differently.
I know there are 101 things to do at this time of year but a little time spent thinking about your business NOW is time you won’t regret… which is more than can be said for all those mince pies!
When I say ‘thinking’ about your business, I don’t mean planning – I mean getting yourself ready to plan. There’s a distinct difference between the two!
I’m bang in the middle of what’s best described as my regular, ‘end of year reflections’ which requires a LOT of thinking about my business, along with a fair bit of dreaming, evaluating and THEN (and this is the good bit!) capturing all the useful bits in a simple, useable Year in Review* format. (*There’s a download link at the end of this blog if you’d like a copy!)
The whole process is a matter of gentle questioning:
How satisfied am I with the way things are going? What could I have done better? Do I feel on track and on purpose? What lessons can be learned? How do I best respond to what’s now calling me?
All of which combine to form one all-encompassing question:
What needs to change?
Because something always needs to change! I’ve never reached this place and thought, ‘well everything’s trucking along tickety-boo, so let’s just keep everything the same....’ Have you? No, I thought not – and there’s a very good reason for this.
WE are constantly evolving and changing
…..and because our business is a direct reflection of who we are, when WE change, it makes perfect sense for our business to do the same…. after all, as solo business owners, we ARE our brand!
Being in alignment is key
So I like to think of this reflective time of year as a natural opportunity to move both my self and my business back into alignment. But of course, to be able to do that, I’ve got to first identify exactly which bits are OUT OF of alignment – which bits no longer ‘fit’ and which bits have become pinch-points and which bits I need to let go of to make space for something new that DOES fit!
To actually get this information, I work through a process I refer to as the 3 R’s: Reflect, Review and Realign. (Catchy eh?) Having worked through this process for a few years now, I can honestly say that it works for me every time.
The ABC principle
The 3 R’s process is based on the ABC principle – Awareness Before Change. I’m not one to dwell on the past but if we don’t look back, how do we move forward? There’s an ENORMOUS amount to be learned from looking back over the last year, to help me get a real feel for what’s IN and OUT of alignment, so that I can make meaningful adjustments rather than blindly carrying on in situations that just aren’t working for me.
There are two parts to this awareness – heart awareness and head awareness.
I’m with Michael Gerber all the way when he says,
“Traditional, head-centred, static business plans don’t work. A plan that starts in the head, with logic and reason and thoughts, lacks passion and excitement and purpose.”
I’m with you all the way on this one Michael!
The best way to reconnect with our all-important ‘passion, excitement and purpose’ is by doing some internal groundwork first… by going ‘within’ and tapping into what’s calling and THEN get ready to respond to what excites and inspires.
I’m talking here about feelings. The feelings that tell you things have somehow moved out of sync. The feelings encouraging you to make a change in direction…. the feelings urging you to step up and create something completely new.
Never underestimate the power of your feelings!
Your feelings are precious indicators that can help inform your decisions about the way forward for you and your business.
It makes absolute sense to start with your feelings, with the emotional connections you have to your business because these are the things that connect you to your natural energy and to the brilliant vision you are trying to build.
It’s about taking some time to acknowledge the things you are grateful for and to focus on the abundance that is already present but often overlooked in your life and business – the things you enjoyed, the times when you where totally in flow and effortlessly in your element.
- What went well?
- What lit you up?
- What felt easy and light?
- Which activities felt most aligned with WHO you are?
And yes, you know already know what comes next…. it is just as important (if not even MORE important) to examine the outcomes that did NOT meet your expectations, so you can learn from them and help you make decisions on what needs to change
- What caused you to feel most disappointed? Why?
- What felt like an uphill struggle? Why?
- What was it, specifically, that made it difficult?
- Where did you feel you were just not ‘in sync’?
- What no longer feels authentic?
The mindset piece….
I guess this is the bit that straddles BOTH heart awareness and head awareness and as we all know, often to our cost, the stuff that goes on INSIDE our head has an enormous effect on…. well, just about EVERYTHING!
Your thoughts and beliefs are incredibly powerful. They can take you to a place of positivity and empowerment or a place of devastating negativity and powerlessness. So no review could ever be complete without taking an objective look at what’s been going on inside your head and what effect that’s had on your actions (….or more likely, LACK of actions!)
- Where have you become tangled in the ‘mindset weeds’?
- How have fear, procrastination, self-doubt and perfectionism impacted on you?
- What behaviours have tripped you up in the past year? How?
- What techniques have helped you to quiet the voice of your inner critic?
Facts are feedback
The phrase ‘there is no failure, only feedback’ is one of those much quoted gems worth remembering here because the facts – good or not so good – will put you in a position of power. These facts, when combined with your intuition, will help you create strong, aligned decisions and solutions.
It’s time next to turn your attention to the tangible, evidence-based bits of your business and the measurements which are significant to your business growth – the audiences built, clients served, programmes run and the revenue generated from each of your services and products.
Amplify. Eliminate. Create.
One of the simplest, quickest and most useful exercises I know for getting a clear sense of what’s in and out of alignment is by reviewing the key areas of your business in turn, and running them through the ‘amplify, eliminate, create test’.
Take some time to work through the key areas of your business
- Audience building/Client attraction
- Adding value/Being of service
- Marketing, visibility and promotions
- Sales conversations
- Programmes and services
- Personal development
…..and for each area ask yourself:
- What was satisfying and enjoyable in this area? What felt easy?
AMPLIFY: Do more of them or improve them
- What’s draining me in this area? What’s sapping my time and energy? What feels hard and is causing resentment and doubt?
ELIMINATE: Let it go, outsource or do less of them
- What’s missing here? Is there something I’m excited by, keen to make, do or try? What feels as if it has real potential?
CREATE: Start doing these.
So, for example:
- Maybe that opt-in you’ve been using is no longer resonating with your audience and it’s time to introduce a more aligned, more enticing resource.
- Maybe your heart is no longer in running your Facebook Group and it’s sapping your time and energy so you decide to let it go.
- Maybe you’ve been ‘hiding’ behind your laptop too much and it’s time to get visible by creating monthly videos for your community.
- Maybe you realise how much you absolutely love group work and perhaps decide to introduce a Mastermind element to your services.
Having concluded my personal 3 R’s process, the biggest take-aways for me are these:
- If it feels hard, feels misaligned, feels like a should rather than a want to, it’s probably not right for you
- Business planning and strategy is really important but it’s not the place to start
- Start with your feelings, your desires, your vision
- Listen to the guide within first and foremost and follow your heart
- Respond to what’s calling you
- If what you’re doing doesn’t actually align with who you are, your results are likely to be short lived
- Letting go of ways of being and doing that no longer serve you, opens up a space for something new
I feel a whole lot more in balance now that I’ve completed my 3 R’s and having reflected, reviewed and realigned, I know exactly where I most need to focus next year. Now I know the most important actions I want to take…. so planning is going to be a doddle!
Fancy trying this approach for yourself?
If you do, I guarantee it will be time well spent. A good place to start is by using the questions in this blog as journaling prompts – journaling is one of the BEST ways of having a deep and meaningful internal dialogue with yourself!
Then, when you’re ready, download ‘2020 A Year in Review’ and use the sheets to capture the essence of your thoughts in a format that’s easy to ‘see’ and access – I find using bullet points works really well. Et voila, you will then have a simple, useful big-picture overview of your past year – a vantage point from which you’ll be well-placed to make informed decisions for the year ahead.
And as always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!