Many people like to make resolutions on New Year's Day. I tend to think of a Word of the Year and focus on making that my goal. This year's word of the year, thirsty, has to do with me starting a new chapter in my life: author.
Earlier this year I mentioned that I worked with a business coach to help me fine-tune my goals for 2016. While I've always been very self-motivated, I felt that I needed an outside perspective to help me identify opportunities where I didn't necessarily see them anymore and figure out what I needed to set aside to make room for new opportunities.
Fast forward to almost the end of the year and I'm proud to say this was, by far, my most successful business year. Why? Because I focused.
Each year that I've worked, either for a corporation or running my own business, I've developed a business plan for myself. I cannot sit still. I feel like there is so much to do, see, and experience, that I want to go see, do and experience. I want to learn new things, challenge myself, and meet new people. I want to tinker with problems, brainstorm solutions, and figure out ways to make things better or get the word out about something neat or important. My problem wasn't that I wasn't good at what I was doing, it was that I wanted to do too much in a short amount of time.
Andrea King Collier, my coach and friend, is a great listener and was able to hone in on this issue almost immediately. When I showed her my "goal" list in December, I'm pretty sure she thought I was nuts. We talked through each and every one of those goals and she reminded me that I didn't need to complete everything in one year and to choose my top five.
TOP 5 GOALS
Once we determined my top 5 goals for 2016, and shelve the rest for 2017 or 2018, it feels like my plate was empty. How could I only focus on 5, I thought? I'd get so bored and quickly! But Andrea persisted. By just focusing on those 5, I'd be able to actually complete them and hit it out of the park.
So whenever an opportunity for a new writing assignment came my way, or a new client wanted to work with me on marketing, communications or PR work, I went back to my 5 goals. Did this opportunity fit with any of those goals? If not, I declined the opportunity.
And, that, my friends, is how I ended up making this my best business year ever: by declining opportunities. Or, more accurately, the wrong opportunities.
I'm currently working on my goals for 2017 and while they're not quite yet finalized, my big goal for next year is to work on a book. It's been on my Goals List for years and I think I'm at a point in my life that I'm ready to embrace the project and process and see where it takes me. I'm going to be working with someone to help me through this process (because I strongly believe in surrounding myself with the best in the business and learn from them) and we begin in earnest the first week of January. Perfect.
As I look toward the last month of the year and wrapping up some client projects and writing assignments, I can't help but take a moment to think about all of the people who played a part in helping me get where I am today. I plan to reach out to them in December to thank them.
Sometimes this year feels like a blur because it went so fast, but it still felt great.
Did you meet the goals you set for yourself and your work this year? What do you feel you did well and what do you plan to do to improve in 2017?
It's the beginning of another week and I'm feeling on fire. Ever feel like the groundwork you've been laying over several years are finally starting to come to fruition?
Being a writer sometimes feels like a no-sum game. Except it isn't. And when things happen, we're tempted to say it's luck. Except it isn't. It's weeks, months, years of solid work and commitment.
I often get asked by aspiring writers how to break it into this business. I'm honest with them and sometimes that's not what they want to hear.
Like any creative field, writing is hard. It's emotionally draining at times, often demanding and sometimes fruitless. But like any creative field, or anything we put our minds to, the more one practices her craft, the better she'll become.
For some of us, writing is something we gain immense pleasure. I love reporting. I love writing about people and their stories, some of whom have never told their story to a writer. That's exciting and I'm humbled by how open some people are when I interview them.
This morning I filed a story with one of my "bucket-list" media outlets. Initial feedback from my editor was solid and she commented on my reporting work. That makes me happy because I worked hard on this piece and the reporting wasn't easy.