The creative’s guide to new year planning

How do you feel about new year resolutions?

Wherever you look, you’re called to “make this your best year yet” or worse, create a whole “new you”.  Whether it’s losing weight, finding the man or woman of your dreams, or seriously upgrading your lifestyle, the pressure is ON folks!

While I strongly recommend NOT making resolutions, I DO believe in reflecting on the year that passed, dreaming about the year to come, and making a plan to get there.

tips for setting goals for creative freelancers

I’m not talking drawn-out Business Plan kind of planning, but rather creating a framework to help you be intentional about where you focus your time, measure where you are at any given time, and adjust as needed.

If that sounds like a liberating idea (goodbye overwhelm and confusion!) here’s how you can get your 2017 off on the right foot:

Step 1 – Reflect

We creative entrepreneurs are notoriously hard on ourselves.  We’re quick enough to point out all the things we didn’t do, while blowing right by the things we DID achieve. Getting up every day and doing what you do required immense amounts of creativity, motivation and stick-with-it-ness, so it’s crucial that you reward the brain by celebrating the wins along the way.

To do:

Answer the following questions.

What were:

  • Your three biggest wins of 2016. What worked and why?
  • The biggest lessons you learned
  • Three things you could do better if you applied these lessons

Step 2 – Refine

It’s only natural that our goals will morph over time. That might be because you achieved your goal already (hurray!), or the goal, for whatever reason, no longer resonates.  I’ve found the most effective way to set goals is to focus on:

  • the big picture (what would I like to be, do or have before I die)
  • the interim picture (3 years out)
  • the upcoming year
  • the next 90 days

Here’s why; it allows me to dream big, then break it down into manageable and actionable steps.

To do:

Grab a cup of coffee, find a quiet space and, start mapping your goals using the image below.

Quick caveat: We want to dream big, but also make it feel realistic, so in the lifetime goals section blue-sky your ideas.  Don’t hold back. For the 3 year and 1 year goals, make them realistic, but a bit of a stretch.  We’ll get to the 90-day goal in a second.

In each of the 3 sections, circle one item that you feel would have the biggest impact on your business and career.

Now choose ONE thing to focus on as your 90-day goal.  Make it something that’s big enough to sink your teeth into (and scare you little). Write down all the steps you would need to take for it to happen, and give those steps a deadline.

how to set goals for the new yearStep 3 – Adjust

You’ve already made a HUGE step towards reaching your goals.  Now you’re in action mode and checking things off your list, that reward center in your brain will give you the mojo you need to keep going.

Now here’s the final step so many of us skip – adjusting (or even ditching) things that aren’t working.  As you put your ideas out into the world, inevitably, some things will work, while others miss the mark.  Everyone I admire, from Seth Godin to James Altucher talk opening about the enormously high proportion of business ideas they threw out because they just weren’t good enough.  Learning how (and when) to quit a bad idea, is just as important as the grit and determination we’re so often told we need.

What do you think? Will you do this?

As always, I’m here for you. I will continue to create content, programs and packages that will help you communicate your value, land better clients and make a greater impact in the world.

In the meantime, if you’d like to work with me, one-on-one for 90-minutes and build YOUR plan for the upcoming year, I’d like to extend a new year gift to you. I am offering my readers a 90-minute laser coaching session for the discounted investment of $197 (regularly $297).  Email me at with “YES, I’m ready!” In the subject line and we’ll get you in the calendar. This offer is for those of you who are ready to take action NOW and will go away on Friday, January 6th.

I can’t wait to help you achieve your goals.

Happy New Year!

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