It's that time of year, friends. Everyone is wrapping up any loose ends from 2023 and ready to start goal planning for 2024. But there is more than one way to set yourself up for success when it comes to setting new goals for your design business (or any business, for that matter).
So Many Goals; So Little Time.
I'm a list girl. I LOVE a good list. Which is why my lists tend to grow...fast. It's not intentional; it just sort of happens because I'm also a dreamer. I get excited about the prospects of a new year full of new goals, and it feeds my soul with motivation. But, it can also have the opposite effect - list paralysis.
Have you ever created a list so big you feel immediately overwhelmed by it before you even start? Me too, friend. Me too. List paralysis. I've been there (many times). Even when I was able to start crossing things off the list and accomplishing goals, I found myself unable to celebrate those accomplishments because all I could focus on was the rest of the list. "Is this thing growing? It seems longer than it did yesterday..."
The other problem? Goals change. So, lists change with them, and that calls for a pivot in how we tackle executing the list of goals we've created. This can bring up different feelings for us as entrepreneurs. Frustration and overwhelm or inspiration and clarity. I'm choosing inspiration and clarity. A few years ago, I discovered something that worked for me, and maybe it will work for you, too.
The Goal Planning Strategy That Changed Everything
Now, I haven't totally altered my entire way of thinking. I'm still an Enneagram 3, type A, list-loving girl, and I'm also a stubborn Scorpio... so, long story short, I'm still me, and I'm not about to pretend to be anyone else. I still make my list, but it's much shorter these days.
I figured out the key (for me) was to set quarterly goals. Why? For a few reasons - starting with the fact that I'm a visual person. As designers, I'm sure we can all relate. Shorter lists (3-5 small goals - or whatever feels the most comfortable for you) seem so much more manageable, and knowing I have a shorter amount of time to accomplish them drives me to stay focused on the tasks at hand rather than thinking "I'll work on that next month. I have all year."
I still make my "big list," but I put it somewhere safe that's out of sight and out of mind. This way, I've unloaded my brain full of ideas without making myself feel completely overwhelmed.
Each quarter, I schedule a day in my calendar to re-evaluate my goals. What have I accomplished this quarter? What have I learned that may have changed my goals? Do I have new goals to add for next quarter? This is when I pull out the big list because now that I've spent 3 months learning, working on my small list of goals, and re-evaluating where I'm at and where I'm going, that list may not look the same way anymore.
The Most Important Part of the Strategy
Take a breath and read this one slowly. At the end of the quarter, when you have your scheduled evaluation day, remember this: it's okay if you didn't meet your goals for the quarter. Seriously. This strategy only works with a healthy dose of GRACE for yourself. Life happens. Kids happen. Illness, financial changes, and family obligations all happen. This is why setting quarterly goals and scheduled evaluation days is so important. It gives you an opportunity to revisit those goals, pivot as needed, and come up with a strategy to accomplish them that fits where you are NOW. Grace. Give yourself lots and lots of grace. Setting goals is a wonderful source of motivation, but they are not a matter of life, limb, or eyesight. So, set them and work on them, but don't let your list steal your joy, my friend. Life is too short, and tomorrow is not a promise. Focus on what you DID accomplish, then make like Elsa and "let it go!".
When I started doing this a few years ago, I found it so much easier to stay focused. Now, it's become a system that has helped me grow my business and find new direction and inspiration along the way.
For example, some quarters, I will set small lists like:
Join a 30-day social media challenge to gain more consistency
Make a new connection with an industry pro
Take a new class
Finish that digital product you've been meaning to launch
Other quarters are devoted to a single goal that I know will take more time and effort (especially if I am in a busy season of multiple projects), like growing my email list or setting up a new passive income stream. This is more involved and takes time to set up ways to grow and nurture with automation, lead generators, etc. Lots of front-end work, but benefits I can then continue to watch grow over time.
If you want to do these things but executing them isn't on your priority list or in your skillset, consider outsourcing them so you can focus on making intentional goals for yourself that are going to help you grow! There are tons of virtual assistants, like myself, who can help you elevate your business without pulling you away from the things you want to focus on this year. Learn more about virtual assistants and how we can help you here.
There's no wrong way to do it, and YOUR goals can be whatever you want them to be. Just remember to keep it simple. You WILL see results, and it's going to feel SO good when you start realizing you're accomplishing so much more with the focus and clarity you need to keep the momentum going!
You've Got This!
If you've been around for a bit, you already know - I'm a hype girl. I will build you up and push your booty to the top of the mountain if you need me to, and I'll do it while reminding you of your utter awesomeness because you showed up today, and sometimes that's the hardest part. You CAN meet your goals, crush them even. I know it, you know it, and it's time you take the steps to do it YOUR way.
Photo Credit: Michelle Lineka Photography
I'll be here cheering you on as you crush your 2024 goals list - ONE goal at a time. And if it takes you from now until December 31, 2024, to crush just one goal? I'm SO proud of you!
Until next time.