Happy end-of-2016. As some of you may remember from past years, I love this time of year. It's the time of year where I'm often surrounded by notebooks, planners, sheets of paper, markers, and pens for long stretches of time, as I reflect on lessons from the past year and look closely at what matters most for the year ahead.
While the essence of my process typically remains consistent from year to year (a look back and a look ahead), the details evolve over time. This year has been my most thorough reflection and planning process to date. I've found that as my business has expanded, my reflection and planning process naturally has, too.
Here's the process I'm using this year and some of the highlights of what I've uncovered. I'd love to hear from you about how your process is going, and what you're uncovering along the way.
Part One: Reflection on 2016
1. Joy and Impact Assessment
This was the first part of my 2016 reflection and 2017 planning process, and it started several months ago, as I was working through some tough decisions around what to say "yes" to and what to say "no" to for the year ahead. My process:
- Listed out every major project/client partnership/initiative of 2016
- Rank ordered each by the amount of JOY it brought me
- Rank ordered each by the amount of IMPACT I felt I had
- Looked for trends
For me, I found that my highest-ranked projects had: undeniable positive ripples (for example, a train-the-trainer project I did, where the ripples reach many people, many cities, and many lives through the group of incredible trainers I worked with), "all-in" commitment from my client and partners, and the opportunity to show up and create magic with a group of people who were interested in doing the same.
I then used my findings as one of the main guidelines for the decisions I was making for the year ahead.
Inspired by this post from Danielle LaPorte, I added a three minute "highlight round" to my reflection this year. The process? In three minutes, list out the highlights of the year. Some of mine:
- The train-the-trainer project mentioned above, which, as a surprise, took me to Oregon and Hawaii to work with the most incredible, heart-centered teams of individuals who are doing work that is changing the world. As a bonus, Jake got to join me for part of the trip - and we spent a couple days at the end visiting my friend Annie's restaurant, running on Alii drive, and playing in the ocean.
- Snowshoeing! This new endeavor made winter in Wisconsin much more bearable, and dare I say...enjoyable?
- Saying "yes" to a project that stretched me in a number of new ways, and allowed me to work with some incredible individuals from around the world.
- Fat biking! The most thrilling way to ride a bicycle, I've discovered.
- Taking July and August off from working in the business, in order to work on the business and create some space for thinking and creativity. Hands down the best decision I made in 2016.
- Ironman! Not because of the race itself (I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with triathlon), but because I signed up in order to force myself to carve out a few hours per week of doing something other than my work. The problem with loving my work so much is that it's easy for me to work nonstop. And, as we know, too much of any one thing is no longer a good thing. Creating a bit of time each week for training reminded me that I actually do my best work when I can alternate between periods of high intensity and periods of spaciousness.
- My ongoing initiative to simplify, minimize, practice essentialism, and have less stuff. It's a work in progress. And, it's impactful.
- Time with friends, family, and people I love. Impromptu lunch meet-ups with mom and dad, impromptu pizza with friends around the dining room table.
3. What Worked?
In addition to the highlights, what worked well in the past year? What flowed? What felt aligned? For me:
- My coaching clients - in short, they kick ass, and they inspire me every single time we meet.
- Working in "sprints" - working in intense bursts followed by a bit of spaciousness. (Note to self: need to make sure the spaciousness part actually happens)
- Home base back in Madison - a city where my energy, creativity, and vibes seem to flow really, really well.
- Corporate partnerships with awesome clients - partnering with companies and organizations that are doing important, meaningful work.
- Teaching - workshops, courses, retreats, and events. I've loved teaching since I was 4 years old and forced my brother to play school in the basement. To this day, it's something that brings me great joy.
- Asking "what would this look like if it were simple?" - a helpful question for someone who occasionally tries to overcomplicate things.
- Asking "is this beautiful?" and "is this useful?" for every item in my home, and if the answer isn't "yes" to at least one of the questions, tossing the item in the "donate" bin.
- Morning coffee, reflection, and planning - every morning. My favorite and most productive time of day.
- Continuing to do work I love, with clients who inspire me. Much expansion, evolution, and gratitude.
- Getting back into the kitchen. Cooking, chopping, and preparing colorful meals makes me incredibly happy and relaxed.
4. What Didn't?
What didn't work so well? What didn't feel aligned?
- Still a bit too much running around - literally and figuratively.
- Keeping a few projects that no longer felt aligned (even though they had in the past).
- Still a bit too much time spent on stuff that isn't in my zone of genius.
- "Day Trips" for delivering workshops that led me to drive 8 hours in a day, on top of leading a course.
- Days when I didn't schedule any breaks, spaciousness, or movement into the day. By about 8 pm things didn't look so pretty.
5. What Did I Notice? What Shifts Do I Want to Make as a Result?
Based on what worked and what didn't work, what do I want to create in 2017? What shifts do I want to make for the year ahead?
- "Yes" to projects that feel 100% aligned. "No" to any that don't (even if they once did).
- No more 8 hour "day trips."
- Scheduled spaciousness into the day. At least a little bit every single day.
- More of a grounded home base (new office!!).
Part Two: Planning for 2017
1. Core Desired Feelings
As some of you know, I'm a big fan of Danielle LaPorte. To me, she embodies super conscious, authentic, soulful business that is 100% aligned with who she is and what she believes. She created what she calls Core Desired Feelings. The idea: determine how you want to feel first, and then create goals second. I've been using her planner for several years, and after much reflection, I've landed on my 5 core desired feelings of:
- Conscious Connection
- Abundance and Generosity
2. Key Intentions
Thinking about these Core Desired Feelings, along with the positive impact I want to create in the upcoming year and lessons and learning from the past year, I identified 3 key intentions for 2017. For me, they are:
- Focus and Finishing - fewer things, fabulous things, and things that are just as much fun to finish as they are to start.
- Scheduled Spaciousness - each day, each week, and throughout the year, in service of creativity and increased positive impact.
- Is it Beautiful? Is it Useful? - key questions I'm asking as I continue to simplify, minimize, and create more spaciousness in my physical world to open up more energy and possibility for the stuff that matters most.
3. Game Plan
Finally, after deep reflection and lots of visioning, I move to the "business planning" part. The first question I ask is:
- What are the 3-5 Most Important Priorities for my business in 2017?
As research and many productivity gurus have told us over and over again, if we have more than 3-5, the probability of getting any of them done goes down.
This year, I have only two - two key priorities that are at the center of the impact I want to have in the world, my core desired feelings, and my intentions for the year ahead. Two key priorities that have tentacles in every aspect of my business and everything I plan to do in 2017.
The second thing I look at is:
- What do I want the different parts of my business to look like in 2017?
- How do I want the year to flow?
And then, based on alllll of the above, I map everything out for the year ahead - inserting what is known at this point, and creating space for what will be created - and as a final step, I translate everything to a somewhat official-looking, living and breathing spreadsheet with numbers and formulas and fancy (to me) automation.
And there you have it! My 2016 Year in Review and My 2017 Year in the Making.
Happy New Year!