How to Create a Break-Out Year

Let’s talk about how to create a break-out year in creative business. I often write about how I repeatedly did the same things over and over in business while expecting better results, and I know you feel me.

The most frustrating obstacles in creative business are the ones you just can’t figure out how to surmount. You see people in the industry succeeding and making sales, yet you can’t seem to wrap your brain around exactly how they created those results. What do they know that you don’t? Where are they marketing? How are they investing their time and money? What’s a girl gotta do to breakthrough to the next level of success already?

How to create a break-out year

For four solid years, I knew how to create the same income from my business. It always fell into the $28-32K range, and there it was. And while I’m grateful for every sale I’ve made and every dollar I’ve earned, I wanted to make more.

In his traditional career, my husband got raises and earned promotions over the years, while I was feeling forever stuck at an entry-level position.

Every New Year, I set out with the best intentions of breaking through my income ceiling, yet for four years, I earned the exact same amount. Nothing more, nothing less. (If you’re interested in exactly how I earned that income, you can find a full year’s worth of income reports by clicking here.)

2015 Was My Break-Out Year

Mid-January (2015), I was sitting down with my books when I realized that I had scheduled another year of work that was almost exactly the same as work I’d done over the last four years. But, I wanted different results!

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein

It was then that I started to develop the system that would later be published in Your Best Year 2016. I filled out another “If I Knew I Could Not Fail” exercise, and the combination of the two resulted in my break-out plan for the year.

In order to create a break-out year, you have to adopt a different mindset. You must acknowledge these two key factors:

  • You can’t do the same thing and expect different results. In 2015, I realized I knew for sure how to create an average $30K salary for myself. I’d been doing it consistently, and I earned some success in business. However, I needed to learn how to create more income + more success in business. I had to recognize that, in order to breakthrough my current income ceiling, I needed knowledge that I didn’t yet have.
  • You always have to know what to work on next. When I set out in 2010, my number one goal was to be a work-at-home mom. I successfully achieved that within the first year, but fours years later, I had failed to set a follow-up goal for myself. This left me in a dangerous rut and caused me to remain at entry-level status.

Identify Your Baseline

It’s important to start your break-out year by taking a good, hard look at your starting point. It’s not the time for pep-talks or reassurances, but rather a somber look at how far you’ve come and where you’ve failed along the way. In other words, leave your rose-colored goggle at home when you embark on this journey.

When you look at your business in review, you’re looking as much for what you don’t know as you are recording what you’ve done. It was a huge mental breakthrough for me to recognize that I knew how to earn an average $30K; nothing more, nothing less. That was my honest baseline, and I needed to actively invest in education + focus my time on efforts that would help me earn more.

Moreover, it doesn’t matter if you’re earning an annual income of 5K or 50K right now. If you consistently earn the same amount (and that’s all you know how to earn), you’re in the same boat.

Name Your Desired Destination

This is where I always refer to the “If I Knew I Could Not Fail” exercise. You simply take a blank sheet of paper, and list the things you would do this year if you knew you could not fail.

The single biggest threat to our goals is setting vague, distant deadlines for their completion. When I wrote my first “If I Knew I Could Not Fail, I Would …” list in 2014, I didn’t plan to do any of the items on the list anytime soon! In fact, I only wrote the post to demonstrate how fun the blog topic was:

“I’m anxious to share, but this is something that I think about all the time. If I knew I could not fail, I would…

  1. Focus all of my efforts on group coaching
  2. Lead live, in-person workshops for groups of 100+
  3. Host a women’s retreat for 20 creatives
  4. Start a podcast”

One of my previous clients commented that I should do all those things, even if I might fail at one or two. It knocked me off my seat; I couldn’t believe how right she was.

I didn’t feel ready yet, but I accepted the challenge. I got right to work on, not one of my big goals, but all four of them! And doing so is what ultimately led to my break-out year. I never would’ve gone for those things last year if I hadn’t shared my list and listened to the feedback it received, but I’m so glad I did! I now consider the “If I Knew I Could Not Fail” list a necessary exercise (+ challenge) to be completed every year.

Because how can you go after what you really want if you’re not even sure what it is yet? From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

Alice: I don’t much care where.

Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.

The only thing in your way from everything that you want is simply the distance between where you are right now + where you want to go. It’s a matter of taking steps in the right direction.

Your Journey Awaits

If there’s something you don’t know how to do yet, find the right teacher. Make sure to hire someone who’s created results similar to what you want for your own business.

And if she is me, you’re in luck! I’ll soon be opening spots to my membership program. Sign up below to be first to know!

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