Episode 1- Reflecting on the Past and Planning for a New Year
During December I did a lot of reflecting on the year behind me. It’s an exercise that I take all of my clients through – my one-on-one clients, my group coaching clients – I even talk to my friends about it. It’s something I’ve done for a really long time.
But a lot of business owners don’t really take the time to reflect on what happened this past year. They don’t take time to focus on the lessons learned, the things that did and didn’t go right, or the things that were just plain awesome! A lot of times we just want to jump right back into business, asking ourselves “OK what are we doing next?” We just want to look forwards and leave what has already happened behind us.
I learned to reflect on the year behind me when I was still in corporate America as a director of marketing, and once I left and became an entrepreneur I continued the practice.
Even when I started my business 10 years ago (when I started my retail stores with my business partner), just taking time to reflect on some of the lessons that we’d learned, noting the things that didn’t go right and also the things that went amazing, allowed new ideas to flow. Whether you have a team or you’re a solopreneur, it’s essential to take some time to look back and reflect on these things because when we do, so many ideas and things that we may have missed throughout the year can come into our minds. We find ourselves having ideas for new and creative things that we do want to do in the following year. We really free up our minds to focus on what is ahead of us and what we can achieve once we’ve looked back and fully appreciated what is behind us.
And we can learn from those things. We can learn from the things that didn’t go so well AND from the things that were amazing.
I learned a LOT in 2018. There were lots of things that happened, things I needed to let go of and things I needed to change in my business. All of these things have helped me grow and will continue to help me grow throughout 2019 (and probably beyond too)
If you’re just starting out, your business is not going to look the same today as it will in six months. I’m a different person to when I first started my business, things look different, my understanding of business, what works, and what doesn’t work are all different too. I’ve learned so much through all the trial and error and mistakes and disappointments and perceived failures that have happened to me along the way.
I’ve spoken to a lot of people, and 2018 was definitely a year of growth and transformation for a lot of business owners. Some have described it as a giant beta test – testing out new ideas, concepts they were learning and even to test out their new self and the person that they were becoming.
2018 was certainly a growth year for me and my business. It was definitely a year filled with lessons, and really understanding what it means to not look at a ‘failure’ as a failure but to look at it as a learning opportunity and to really look for the lesson in that experience.
So I wanted to share with you three lessons that I’ve learned.
- Do What Your Love and Stick to Your Strengths
The first one is to do what you love and stick to your strengths. This was a BIG one for me. When I first started this business, I would say yes to absolutely anything and everything. My experience in corporate America and throughout my entire career I’ve learned how to do many different things in marketing, branding, organizational development and leadership development. This meant that, for the longest time, I was all over the place and doing anything and everything that people asked of me.
And one of the big lessons that I learned in 2018 was to really focus on the things that I love to do. Throughout those years in corporate America, I was all over the place and not focusing on my strengths. Even though I knew how to do all of those tasks that I was doing for other people, I didn’t love doing them – I just did them because I knew how to and I said ‘yes’ when someone asked me. They weren’t things that really filled my soul with happiness and joy.
So really focusing on doing what I love and sticking to my strengths was a big thing for me in 2018.
As well as really looking at the work I was doing, I also took time to look at the people that I was working with. There were people who didn’t really want to step up into a leadership role and really take ownership and responsibility of their businesses and progress. I had to make some hard decisions about the work that I was doing for them and about the relationships that I had with them.
I had to make a lot of difficult decisions which wasn’t the most fun thing to do! But having to make those difficult decisions really helped me to get even clearer on what my purpose is and the things that I really love to do. It also opened up space for me to help more people who really needed it and who really wanted to learn how to take their business to the next level.
That was something that I really needed to learn because for so long I knew I wanted to help people and I knew I could help people but really focusing on my strengths helped me to get clearer on my purpose as well as helping me to grow my business and reach more people.
- Trust Yourself
The second lesson that I learned, which kind of links into that, is to really trust yourself.
I learned to really trust myself because I know what’s best for me. I don’t need validation from anybody else out there.
I know that the experiences I’ve had, insights I’ve gained and lessons I’ve learned have all happened for a reason. And I know that I can take all of those things and use them to really help other people and their businesses.
So often, as entrepreneurs, we get stuck in a land of learning where all we do is learn new things but never implement those lessons in reality. And I was one of those people for the longest time! But even when I started to implement and execute what I had learnt, there was still something missing – the piece that was missing was that I needed to trust myself and really stay true to the vision that I had for my business. I need to stop doing things just because other people were saying it was the right thing to do – trying to listen to everyone out there was making me confused.
I needed to take all of the things I was learning and everything that my mentors were telling me and put it all together. But ultimately the decision of how to move forward was my decision. I needed to use what I was learning to make the right decisions for my business but I also needed to learn how to trust myself to make the right decision and go with my gut. I needed to understand that I already had everything I needed inside of me.
As entrepreneurs, we sometimes think that, in order to succeed, we need to learn something new, or we need to do something else, or we need to find a different solution…we get so lost in all of the options available to us when all we need to actually do is trust in ourselves. We just need to get our stuff out there and believe..
- Keep Showing Up
The third lesson that I learned was that we need to keep showing up even when we can’t control what’s happening.
As type-A personalities, business owners and creatives, we always want to be able to put as much work and effort and time and passion into everything that we’re doing and we want to be able to control the outcome. But the truth is that we can’t always do that.
The best thing that we can do, and the thing that I learned the most is that you need to just keep showing up. You need to keep showing up and keep creating and keep leading and keep going even though you have no control over what the outcome is going to be.
You need to really believe in what you’re doing and create things not just in the sake of creating, but create things that matter. Create things that will help people to learn something new, to help them shift their perspective, to do something that is going to make a difference in this world, to do something that can help other people do what they’re passionate about.
And one of the things that I learned to do, is to ask myself a lot of questions. Every day I would get up and ask myself, “what can I create that will make a difference in the lives of my customers? What can I create or what can I put out there that can maybe help someone who is struggling with the same things that I have?”
A lot of times when things aren’t going right, we get frustrated and we feel like a failure and often, this makes people want to give up. But you can’t. You have to keep showing up every day. You have to keep writing your blog posts. I’ve been doing search engine optimization for over twenty years and I always knew the importance of it and what you needed to do with it.But it takes time for something to stick and for people to find it and it can get frustrating.
I know a lot of people that I’ve worked with want to give up because it’s not instantaneous. But the more you can just keep showing up and keep putting yourself out there and keep writing and keep creating and keep fighting for your dream…Guess what? It will work. It will happen. And that content that you’re creating will live on way past the date that you create it. So we just need to keep showing up even when we can’t control the outcome.
So, there you have it – those are the lessons that I’ve learned. There are so many more but those were the three big lessons that I learned in 2018.
What am I doing for 2019?
Well, the biggest thing I’m doing in 2019 is dreaming big. I’m taking all of the reflections and lessons learned and asking myself, “OK what are the big things here that can help me plan for 2019?” and, “What would a successful 2019 look like? What would it feel like? What would I do differently? What would I let go of?” All based on my reflection of 2018.
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