So, it’s December again. (I know, eek!)
2014 is on wind-down – though, for those of us in handmade business, wind-down is still a few weeks away yet. It’s the busy season – Christmas orders are flying thick and fast (I hope!) and the busiest social season of the year is here.
In all the busyness, it can be so incredibly easy to just focus on ‘keeping up’ – and let any planning and thinking work slide by until things calm down.
However, now is actually a really great time to start thinking about 2015. If you wait until 2015 actually starts, you risk starting the year off on the backfoot – feeling like you’re just constantly struggling to keep up or make progress, without an overarching plan or idea of why you’re doing what you’re doing, what your big goal/s are, and where you’re going.
Here are a few ways you can plan for 2015 without taking a whole lot of time away from all the other work you’ve got going on.
Reflect on Your Current Situation
Spend just a few minutes a day – maybe while you’re working, or, at the end of the day – reflecting on how things are currently going. This is always a good habit to cultivate, but it’s especially important during the busy season.
What’s going right? What’s gone wrong – and how can you fix/avoid that in future?
Maybe you didn’t make enough stock/order enough materials. Maybe you didn’t realise how busy you would be. (Should you have set earlier Christmas order cut-off dates? Or later ones? You DID set cut-off dates, right?) Maybe you’re just not making the sales you thought you’d be making. I’ve experienced all of these things!
If you have any profound ideas or insights, write them down. Otherwise, chances are you will forget, and end up making the same mistakes over and over again.
We only grow by learning from our experiences.
Get a Wall Planner and Coloured Pens
I suspect that many of you are stationery addicts. I wouldn’t class myself in that category… but I am pretty darn fond of my yearly and weekly planners. I get a yearly whiteboard planner each and every year, and it is where I track all the important events for my business and life. Sitting down with this every December has become a bit of a ritual for me.
I find looking at that whole, clean, bright and shiny year laid out before me simultaneously exciting and daunting. Exciting, because – all the potential! Daunting because – really so few days to get everything I want done!
Coloured whiteboard markers turn planning out the year into a fun creative project. Don’t get too serious about it for now – just take 1/2 an hour or so to dream about what events, launches, collections, etc. you’d love to do/participate in in 2015, and write them in. Come up with a Big Gorgeous Goal (my version of the BHAG, because hairy, really?) – maybe financial, or not – and write it on your planner so you can stare at it every day.
Remember – these things can be moved and changed (that’s why it’s a whiteboard!) but getting it out in rough form really helps you to feel calmer and more in control of what the next year will be about.
You got this.
Are you Telling the Right Story?
Do you feel like the business story you’re projecting into the world is in alignment with reality?
Does your branding, marketing materials – heck, even your products – line up with you and what you want your business to be going forward?
The beginning of the year is a great time for overhauling. Maybe there’s something about your biz you want to change. Maybe something hasn’t been sitting right. Or perhaps you want to try something new – go in a different direction.
That’s great! Isn’t it great that this is YOUR business, and you can do as you damn well please?
If you’ve been hesitating to make changes to your story, now is a good time to consider how you want to kick off 2015.
You might even want to take a break from making for a few weeks in January, and spend that time doing some overhauling of your biz (or, you know, just take a holiday…).
What Will Life Look Like in 2015?
Now, we all know that New Years Resolutions usually don’t work. Why? Because we’re trying to make a stack of habit changes all at once, and our poor little brains really can’t handle that. It really is best to just aim to change one habit/routine at a time.
However – that doesn’t mean that you can’t plan to change a whole lot of things about your life and work in 2015. You just need to be strategic about it.
For now, I just want you to dream. I want you to think about yourself in one year’s time, sitting down and reflecting on the 2015 that has been.
What was different – and better – about it than 2014? How will you be feeling? What will your life look like? Where will your business be?
You can do this just in your head, but it’s way more effective if you write it down. Imagine you are Future You, writing a journal entry or a blog post about the highlights and lessons learnt in 2015. Do this either at the beginning or the end of the day, while the world is quiet, and you’ve got time to just dream.
This exercise will help you to get clear on what really matters to you.
Have you grown your business? Do you feel more calm because you’ve been meditating regularly? Have you had more free time to spend with friends and family because you’ve been smarter with your social media and marketing use? You get the picture.
Once you’ve done this, look back through what you’ve written and pull out the things that are different from 2014. Then – work out what you need to change to make this dream journal entry come true!
If you discover you need to make big – or small – changes to your habits, don’t go trying to do everything at once starting Jan 1st. You’ll just set yourself up for frustration and failure.
Instead, make a plan. Prioritise changes in order of importance, and aim to make one change per month. That’s it!
By this time next year, you could have made 11-12 habit changes.
Now – go do one of these things, or do them all. Or, do something else that works for you.
The key is to do something so that you start the new year from a place of knowledge and power, rather than a place of exhaustion and burnout.
Good luck! I’d love to hear what you learn about yourself and your biz in the comments below if you’d like to share.
- If branding and story-telling is something you want to work on, be sure to check out Megan Auman’s upcoming CreativeLive class on December 4-5, Brand Your Creative Business (This site/resource is no longer available) – it’s free to watch when it’s live!
- You might also like to check out my friend Karen Gunton’s BizPlanTastic Workbook (aff). (This site/resource is no longer available)
Image source: Death to the Stock Photo