Plan now for an amazing 2018, part 2.
Set aside at least an hour with a journal, large Post-It easel paper, or the free planning workbook available at the bottom of the page. Brew your tea. Turn off your phone. Just like with the 2017 reflection, planning is best done with limited distractions so you can really tune in to yourself and identify what you most want to create in the next year.
Crafting goals for the year is a process of equal parts thinking big and thinking real. It's great to have a big goal- to put your dreams out there and not be afraid to let yourself want, whether you want to have more impact, more influence, more income, or all of this and then some. At the same time, you want to set yourself up for success. I know that when I have unrealistically high expectations of myself I can wind up feeling pretty crappy, especially if I've had high expectations without a clear plan for how I'm going to meet them. But if my goals require the right amount of stretch- enough to challenge me to bring my A game, but not so much as to intimidate me into inaction- I get to experience a sense of accomplishment that then motivates me to stretch even further. You know how you talk about the "window of tolerance" with your clients? That's what I'm talking about here. You don't want to just stay comfortable, and you don't want to be paralyzed. You'll know you are in that window when your goals have you feeling excited, maybe a bit scared, but confident that you can figure out how to meet the challenge.
You'll want to set two or three goals that are inspiring, specific, and achievable. Remember that a big part of your week is actually seeing clients. Having too many goals or projects will pull your energy in too many directions. When you have limited hours to dedicate to practice building, you want to use those hours as efficiently as possible, focusing on the goals that are truly your top priority.
How do I know if my goals are achievable?
Well, you won't know for sure until you try, but you can get a good sense by backing into them. Say you really want to net six figures next year. Is it doable? Absolutely. But do you know what it will take to do it? How many clients will you need to see and at what rate? Will you teach classes or workshops? How many? What will it take to promote and fill those classes? Will you have the time and bandwidth to do these things? If not, is there something you need to let go of to make room for the work it will take? Are you willing to let that thing go? Where are you at now? Is making the jump from where you are now to six figures in your window of tolerance or do you need to hold that as the long term vision and first set a more modest goal? There are no wrong answers to any of these questions. Whatever the goal, its purpose is to help you bring direction to your desires rather than relying on hope that things will just work out the way you want.
These questions can also help you break your goals down into projects. For now, focus on projects the first two quarters of next year, January-June. Life happens, and things come up unexpectedly during the year. You might have to accommodate for a personal crisis (I hope not, but it can happen) or you might be offered a dream opportunity (that sounds better) that could shift the course of your plan. Even if there's no unexpected major event, as you work on your projects you'll learn more about what's working and where you need to pivot. If you set the first few months, you'll have some flexibility to incorporate the lessons you learn as you move through the year. Review your goals and projects midway through the year, make adjustments if necessary, and then plan the rest of the year.
With the example from above, if your goal is to net six figures next year, possible projects could be: teach a workshop with 15 participants on a topic in my niche, develop strong referral relationships with 4 new referral partners, publish two articles that would be valuable to my ideal client, raise fees for new clients as of January 1 and review fees for current clients. If the workshop is a hit, you might decide to run several more in the second half of the year. If it's a bust, you can review and decide what needs to change in order to meet the goal for the year.
I highly recommend making one of your goals an income goal, especially if you struggle with fees. If you find yourself setting fees from a place of wanting to avoid disappointing a potential client rather than from a place of clarity about your income needs, you need a clear measurable income goal. I promise you'll be a lot less likely to over-accommodate requests for fee reductions when you are connected to the fact that that fee goes to paying for daycare, or your student loans, or taking a much-needed vacation with your partner.
Once you've determined your goals and projects, break those down even further into the action steps you need to take for each project...and put them in your calendar! Block out specific chunks of time in your schedule when you are going to work on these projects, and keep the list of action items next to those time blocks. Personally I like using a physical paper planner for this, separate from my digital client schedule. I'm currently trying out the Best Self journal. Lots of folks like Asana for project planning. But as always, the best system is the one you are going to use consistently, so use whatever works for you.
Remember, goal setting is just one more way you get to practice being a good boss to yourself. A good boss sees your potential, encourages you to reach it, sets milestones, and brings in more support when needed. A not-so-great boss gives you unrealistic or unclear goals and expects you to do it all on your own with no support. There are lots of places you could work if you wanted to work for a horrible boss. That's not why you went into private practice!
The thing about goals is that living without them is a lot more fun, in the short run. It seems to me, though, that the people who get things done, who lead, who grow and who make an impact… those people have goals.” —Seth Godin
What's your top priority goal for 2018? Share it in the comments!
May you reach all your goals and then some!