Every year about this time entrepreneurs start thinking about what they’re going to do to make the next year better than any year that’s come before. Or at least that’s what we say we’re thinking about and hopefully it’s true for you.
There are literally hundreds of exercises I use to lead clients to the business analytics and self-awareness necessary to make their own lists of goals and intentions. Some are daily habits, some are quick “aha generators,” and some are processes that can take a half day retreat to work through. I’ve been doing several of them this month and this is my list so far. Maybe there are a few things here that will resonate with you too.
#1 – Be Diligent About Who Can Access My Time, My Energy, and My Mind
There’s a reason this one comes first, if I nail this one but fail to do anything else on this list I’ll still change my life, my business, and in some small way, the world.
It’s easy to focus on how we’re going to invest money in our selves and our businesses, but money is not our most valuable resource, not by a long measure. You’ve probably heard that time is the most important resource we’re given because you cannot get it back and no one knows how much of it we have. But have you ever found yourself “wasting” time because you just didn’t have the energy to do what you really needed to do? Or found that important tasks and decisions took longer or did not go well because you were just too tired to get it right? I find that if I invest my energy wisely I make better use of my time.
But my mind is by far my greatest resource. It is the source of my ideas, my art, my vision, and my future. And it is my connection to source. Most people think that guarding access to the mind means not giving away knowledge or creative output unwisely. But while failing to guard the “output” of my mind might have a small opportunity cost (giving something away that I could sold instead) I know that my power and profit are most diminished when I do not guard what comes in to my mind. When I allow input from toxic people, hate and fear mongers, gossipers, or shit-stirrers to contribute to my thoughts and beliefs I take on bits and pieces of their programming as part of my own.
#2 – Be a Better Boss
As an entrepreneur I am my own boss. And sometimes I hate me. Seriously, if I treated an employee the way I sometimes treat myself I’m sure that employee would quit and maybe put Jello in the toilets before they left. It’s ironic, considering that leadership, team relationships, and culture are things that I’ve been teaching, coaching, and writing and speaking about for two decades. So this year I am going to put my own wisdom to the test – starting with me.
#3 – Do it MY Way or Don’t Do it at All
I remember when internet marketing was the new thing. When guys like Dan Kennedy, Joe Polish, and Alex Mandossian were teaching us how to reach prospects without cold calls or postage stamps. I even remember when I was teaching how to use this new thing called “social media” to build connections and reach new markets.
Then came the teleseminars and the webinars and the funnels and the program launches. Everyone has an “I’m going to teach you everything you need to know in 90 minutes or less” event that leads to a pitch and in that pitch they’ll all tell you that their way is the only way unless they’re an affiliate for another program and then they’ll tell you that that way is the only way.
I also remember when I was doing “personal development” because no one had heard of “coaching” as a profession. And the key to personal development (or coaching) was that it was personal. Back then it was understood that that was the basis of the transformation that happened for the client — the personal part. Now everyone who is an expert, a guru, a master, a teacher, or an internet marketing wanna be is a “coach” and the rallying cry is “never do one-on-one coaching again.
That’s all fine and good and valuable for some folks, and some of the programs are wonderful and some of the coaches are AMAZING (I’ve worked with some who were and some who weren’t) but the way they succeed isn’t the way I succeed. I don’t want to get away from one-on-one coaching, it’s the most joyful thing I get to do in my business. (Writing comes in a close second.) I don’t want to get away from attracting clients based on personal connection. Coaching success is partly about chemistry, and some of my most precious client relationships came because we just “clicked.” And I am not going to base my business on programs when my success with the client has always been about the flexibility of being totally with them and knowing what is going to create the greatest shift at any given time.
#4 – Set More Meaningful Goals
Another thing that I know, not just intellectually but deep in my soul, is that if I don’t want it I won’t achieve it. And by “want it” I don’t mean kind of think it would be cool, or impressive, or fun. I mean I have to desire it, I have to burn for it, I have to demand it of myself and of that “source” that is beyond myself. There’s a whole lot more on setting goals that matter here, so I won’t give you all the down-low on my thoughts and process. But this year I am going to allow myself to acknowledge that a lot of what other people want and work for just doesn’t inspire me, and I’m going to set my goals according to what delights my soul, not what impresses my fans.
#5 – Refine My Bullseye
I think of the “bullseye” as that sweet spot in your target market that you aim for in everything you say, everything you do, and everything you are as a person and a brand. You won’t always hit the bullseye. In fact, some of business that comes to you from hitting the outer rings on the target might be both fulfilling and profitable, but it’s that bullseye that keeps you fired up and focused.
My bullseye criteria is still being refined, but I start with three columns; one for include, one for exclude, and one for non-negotiables which are characteristics I won’t allow anywhere on the target. For instance, this year I realized that I really miss working with teams. So my bullseye will include larger businesses who want to invest in their leadership and shift their culture. I’m excluding solopreneur startups unless they have successfully built other businesses because I’ve spent a lot of time helping new small ventures get off the ground, but that doesn’t scale and it doesn’t excite me so it may be somewhere on the target, but it isn’t in my bullseye.
I also realized that I cannot work with people who do not share my basic truths about the inherent value of all people, about equality and diversity, and about ethical treatment and kindness toward all, so that goes on my list of non-negotiables.
#6 – Take Control of My Online Brand and My Content
Social media is great and a fun and profitable place to play, and writing for big media sites is also great and a boost to the bottom line and credibility, but I don’t own or control any of those spaces. Plus I’ve neglected my own sites, especially when it comes to SEO. This is one area where I’m going to let the experts tell me how it’s done, and I’m rethinking and restructuring almost everything about my sites, my email lists, and my online brand.
#7 – Focus on Mindset and Culture and Let the Money Flow
This almost goes back to the point about doing things my way. Because every time in my 20 plus years as an entrepreneur that I made a lot of money this is exactly what I did. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have strategy, or tactics, or that I didn’t do a ton of practical work in the material world. But my focus was on what was going on in my mind, the culture I was creating or immersing myself in, and everything I did to create income came out of that. They say “do what works until it doesn’t.” When something has worked for you every single time it’s worth returning to, every single time. This is what has worked for me, and this is what I’m doing. As of right now.
#8 – Return to What I Love the Most
This is also related to doing things my way. Because what I love most is personal transformation. Whether it’s individuals or interdependent teams, seeing people do things they didn’t think were possible and knowing that I was an integral part of that magic? That fires me up like nothing else. So every offering I have will be focused in some way on that.
There are a couple of “subcategories” under transformation. One is writing and helping others use writing for personal evolution and brand exposure. Because I’ve been a writer since I picked up a pencil and that isn’t going to let go of me, probably not in this lifetime and maybe not in the next. The other is soul work, because when I am honest it is my own inner work that has brought me this far and it’s time to share that with those I serve.
#9 – Build a Dream Team
I like to remind myself that “we are never given more than we can handle, just sometimes more than we can handle alone.” When I started making this list and getting clear on what matters and what I really want, it not only became obvious that I’m going to need to clear some people and activities out of my life, it also became obvious that I’m going to surround myself with a different group of people – both personal connections and paid service providers.
#10 – Put Me First
After two years of battling severe mold toxicity, which cost me physical and mental functionality and could have cost me a great deal more, I’ve promised myself that I will spend my resources (money, energy, time, and mind) on what I know keeps me healthy and in this world. Self-care is a buzzword that gets shouted about a lot, but it’s more than a spa day once a month or a walk in the park every week. For me it’s staying in connection with both my soul and the physical world – it’s meditation, writing, dreaming, walking, sitting, staring at a cloud, and watching a bird on a wire. It’s swinging a kettlebell and getting my hands in the dirt and taking time to lovingly prepare and really taste the food that keeps body and soul together.
This care of self is what it takes to be in business. Because if I am not 100 percent my best and highest self, then what I offer to my business and what my business offers to my clients will not equal the full value of what I am in this world to deliver.
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