One of the things I committed myself to doing this year was to focus on my five “top goals”. We all talk about things we want to accomplish in addition to our regular commitments, whether it’s work with our clients, regular assignments from our editors or our involvement with the community. The reality is that we’re already busy so how do we gain the bandwidth to add yet another things to our already-overloaded “to do” list? We can’t – unless we plan for it and make time for it.
Last year was such a professionally and personally-rewarding year for me. I stretched, reached and proved to myself that I had what it took to make things happen. Things that I’d be working on for years finally seemed to fall into place. I don’t believe in luck. I believe that things happen when you plan for them. Maybe not immediately but eventually, when you work at it, they do.
In December, I decided to hire a business coach to help me synthesize and focus my goals for 2016. She helped me realize that I don’t need to do everything in 12 months. Rather than 9 goals, we pulled them back to 5 goals. The others would be pushed to the following year. Notice I didn’t abandon them – we just put them on the backburner (she calls it the parking lot) so we could focus on just 5 for this year.
Then she pushed me further and asked me to put together a timeline with action steps for each goal. What would I do this week, she asked, to push along each of my goals to fruition? Did I need to reach out to someone for more information? Did I need to read a media outlet in greater detail because I wanted to secure a byline in that outlet? Who might be able to help me achieve my goal? Did I need to attend a new conference to meet people who might be helpful in meeting my goal?
None of her ideas or prompts is revolutionary but having that out-of-my-circle feedback has been invaluable. My coach and I don’t have a professional or personal relationship outside of a network of female writers. I reached out to her because she’s planning a conference I’m seriously considering attending and she mentioned that if I needed help with my goals, she offers coaching services. I knew her work and respected her as a professional writer and I wanted to talk to someone who I admired and didn’t have any agenda outside of helping me hone my focus.
Since I don’t work in a traditional office, I have to find ways to grow outside of getting just receiving general feedback from clients or editors. I invest in myself through classes and professional conferences. A friend and I started a monthly writers accountability group. I’m very active in professional associations.
Through it all, though, I still wanted to talk to someone who didn’t know me or my work well and could be objective. Am I insane to think I could crack into any of my 13 “bucket list” publications? What do I need to think about and to my book proposal so it can shine and find the right publisher?
The Benefits of Outside Perspective
One of my goals for this year was to formalize my own marketing services. In addition to my now wildly-popular 52-Week Marketing Monday Checklist for Independent Retailers Subscription, I’m offering one-on-one coaching to small businesses interested in incorporating a robust marketing plan to their business plan.
The idea behind this goal came about after several retailers asked me to help them craft their own marketing plan because it wasn’t financially feasible for them to hire a marketing and PR consultant like me.
Having an outside perspective isn’t just smart, it makes good business sense. Rather than constantly being “busy” doing things we feel we should be doing, working with someone outside of your daily grind helps them see what’s blocking you from moving ahead and also gives you a different perspective as well as ideas on what we can done better.
Now, every Sunday evening, I open my Passion Planner, review my week ahead and PLAN FOR IT with my goals in mind. I also schedule time on my planner to specifically work on my goals. I don’t work on all of my goals every day or even every week, but they follow me week by week so I can be reminded of them and I schedule things I can do to help push my goals in the forward direction.
How do you focus and commit to the goals you want to meet this year?