As the end of the year draws near, it’s a time for egg nog, too much holiday partying, and New Year Resolutions.
For many solopreneurs, it’s also a time for solidifying their annual plans for the new year – or if you’re a procrastinator, setting them up in the first place.
I often encourage my clients to look at their business in terms of quarters (three months at a time). Studies have shown that 90 days is long enough to build momentum, and short enough to sustain attention and enthusiasm for a project.
But how do you know if the goals you’re setting in your business are setting you up for long-term success, and not, as one client put it, “destined to keep you slogging and hustling forever?”
Ever wonder why you can work hard all year and still not achieve your goals? Every creative entrepreneur has blind spots that prevent them from moving forward despite their best-laid plans. The degree each blind spot affects you depends on your creative type. When you’re aware of those blind spots, you can build your plans to accommodate them. Here are the three blind spots to look out for when setting up your business plans for the next 12 months and beyond.
3 Hidden Problems In Your Annual Planning
#1: No Room For Surprises
It’s rare for anyone to make a plan for the unexpected, but in the words of financial guru Dave Ramsey, it’s not a question of if they’ll happen, but when. Sometimes those unexpected surprises are painful – like losing a long-term client, but they can also be joyful – landing a “big fish” client, for example. As a solopreneur, your business is an extension of who you are in the world, so creating a buffer in your calendar is an imperative. Linear Creatives tend to struggle with this issue the most, because they are keenly result-focused. Driving to a deadline? No problem. Just keep hustling until it’s complete. But if someone gets sick, well, then everything goes off the rails.
Instead, look for planning tools that help you see the bigger picture for the entire year, and then break those annual goals into Quarterly milestones. Prioritize your milestones before the start of the year so that, if things start to go off the rails, or goals start competing for attention (hey, it happens!), you’ll already know which one is the top priority. Plus, by creating white space in your calendar, you’re more likely to have the bandwidth to deal with emergencies and surprises when the do finally show up.
#2: Failure To Right-Size Your Goals
By all means, dream big dreams, and support those dreams with reasonable action steps. Tony Robbins said that most people over-estimate what they can accomplish in a year, and underestimate what they can accomplish in ten years. It takes a lot of action to go from four figures to six figures in a single year, and while it’s possible, most people simply can’t or won’t do the work needed to accomplish a goal that big in such a short period. Chaotic creatives have a tendency to vision big and forget about the steps (or people) it takes to achieve a vision at that scale. Right-sizing your goals is about making sure that what you want to achieve is actually doable for you, based on your circumstances.
In that case, you’ll want a planning tool that helps you get granular, check things off your list, and keep you focused on next steps. Big picture visioning is easy for you, staying attentive to the minutiae is more challenging, and can sometimes feel frustrating or even boring if you’re not seeing the progress you desire. By breaking your annual vision into bite-sized, quarterly milestones, you’ll be more attentive to what needs to happen now to bring your dreams within reach during the next 12 months.
#3: Forgetting To Have A Life
While I don’t recommend it, most solopreneurs create separate plans for their life and their business. Fusion creatives, however, tend to forget themselves altogether. Because they’re good at a lot of things, they pour themselves into their projects and forget that work-life balance includes having a life outside of their work. In my Dreamblazing process, we define success in five key areas: Faith, Family, Fitness, Fortune, and Freedom. Then, we set goals in each area to help maintain a balanced approach to life and work. Fusions move back and forth between the big picture and the granular with relative ease. The hard part is pulling themselves away from their work so that their family and friends remember what they look like.
If that’s an issue for you, you’ll want a planning tool that helps hold you accountable to what really matters to you. Shiny object syndrome and perfectionism can take you down a rabbit hole that keeps you from completing projects. Accountability – with periodic check-ins and evaluation reports – keep a Fusion creative focused on “shipping” as Seth Godin calls it, rather than getting busy doing much of nothing.
It’s not hard to set a goal or make a plan, but…
We’ve all set goals. We’ve all made plans. That’s not the hard part. The problem often comes in the execution. A lack of accountability, a lack of clear vision, or a lack of bandwidth are often the biggest culprits that hinder your creative success. Make this the year that you take control of your calendar, right-size your expectations, and create a life (and work) that you love.
Lisa Robbin Young is the founder of Ark Entertainment Media, a business incubator for creative entrepreneurs. She’s also an award-winning speaker, best-selling author, and performing artist with three albums to her credit. A true Fusion creative, Lisa believes that the best way to be truly successful in life and business is to be yourself – warts, sparkles, and all – so you can own your dreams without selling your soul. Discover your creative entrepreneur type with Lisa’s free quiz at lisarobbinyoung.com/quiz