Strategizing a Successful 2016

Happiest 2016 to you! I’ve been in the dreamiest haze, exploring plans and possibilities since the ball dropped, and I so hope you can relate!

I’m also over the moon with the reception and feedback I’ve gotten for Your Best Year 2016. I am so thrilled you’re loving the system it teaches, and I’m blown away by the results you’re creating already. Here’s just a clip of one reader’s email  – her results were absolutely thrilling!

“I purchased your planner & got it on Oct 8. I immediately printed the 2015 version, started working through it and realized that something needed to change (duh!) and that I needed to do something different to effect that change.”

“In the past 90 days, since purchasing your planner, I have earned $3,419 in royalties (and spent about $600 in expenses). This is beyond astounding. It is life changing.”

I LOVE! Creatives around the world are looking at their businesses in a whole new light (< click to see hundreds of Your Best Year workbooks in action!), and I commend each and every one of you for making that investment in yourself + your career.

Today, I’d like to expand on your progress so far and help you strategize a successful 2016.

Make the most of everything you've got in creative business

Learn to Self-Manage

I notice that a lot of my clients come to me with the same questions:

  • What do I focus on?
  • How do I self-motivate?
  • How do I keep at it?
  • How do I prioritize my to-do list?

In planning a creative’s private retreat I held last year, co-host Bonnie Christine and I were discussing who would cover what topics in our presentations, based on our attendee’s needs. She had a list of things she was going to help with and answer, and I wanted to cover the above issues (on what and how to focus). She said in passing, “Good – I don’t know how to explain that part; I just get it done.” And I’m telling you, you wouldn’t believe how much Bonnie gets done!

Her saying that stuck with me so that I kept thinking about it. How do some people just “get it done” when I have to create all kinds of systems and rationalizations to keep myself going?

At our retreat, Bonnie mentioned in her presentation that she comes from a family of entrepreneurs. That was my a-ha! moment. While I’m sure she faces the same struggles all creatives face, on some level, she was also raised to self-manage.

What if the real question we’re actually asking ourselves when we wonder about focus, priorities and to-do lists is: How can I learn to self-manage? Isn’t that so much more gentle and patient than the more common, Why can’t I figure this out? Why aren’t I getting it done?!

Because before this, you’ve likely never worked without a boss before. It’s incredibly difficult to show up with good intentions of productivity, and then wing it.

If you’re scooping this section up like a hot fudge sundae, what you need most is a manager. My husband is so good at getting things done, I often say to him, “Will you be my manager?” – And when I ask it, picture me as wild-eyed and desperate as the baby bird in the children’s book, Are You My Mother? because that’s how I feel sometimes! 

He always laughs and says, “That will never work.” And I end up back at square one. However and in lieu of an actual business manager, I present to you the next best solution.

Your Big Goal Becomes Your Manager

Be careful with this advice because I don’t mean every goal you have becomes your manager. It’s about setting one big goal for a block of time (give yourself anywhere from a quarter to a year to complete it), and letting that one big goal manage everything you do. It could be an income goal, a subscription goal, a status goal, etc., but it needs to create a significant breakthrough for your business.

For example, my big goal for 2015 was to welcome 500 members to my membership program, The Luminaries Club. I knew that 500 members would enable me to hire club counselors, create an ongoing support system, and have more time to make valuable educational tools and resources.

500 Members was my manager, and I questioned everything on my to-do list as to whether or not it would help me reach that goal.

Will checking Facebook or Twitter 23 times/day help me welcome 500 new members? Absolutely not. Will Pinterest help me welcome 500 new members? A little bit. I give it about 20 minutes per day. Will writing an epic blog post that gets pinned 1,000 times help me to achieve my goal? You know it. That’s the work I need to focus on!

Anytime you start fussing over your schedule or looming to-do list, I want you to question what you’re doing, and more importantly, WHY you’re doing it.

TAKE ACTION NOWDecide what has to happen this year in order for you to get closer to your vision of absolute success. For me, it was 500 members, for you it might be a certain income goal, to be able to easily cover your first employee, to earn enough extra income to take your family on vacation, etc.

But whatever it is, make that goal very specific. Know an exact number or figure, exactly why you want it, and exactly what you’re going to do once you create it.

Next, look at your looming to-do list. What tasks can you delete? Where can you stop focusing your efforts, and how can your working hours be better utilized to move you toward your main goal? Let it manage your day from here on – you won’t believe your results!

Sharpen Your Focus

I feel alive when I’m actively participating + progressing in life, but some years go by when I don’t feel I’ve gotten any closer to my big, dreamy goals. Therefore, I like to keep them front + center (posted on vision boards and in my daily planner), and check-in on my progress towards them every month.

Without a list of goals and regular review, it’s easy to get carried away with instant gratification <<< the bane of my existence. It’s a true challenge to constantly invest in your future and make sacrifices for a better you (tomorrow). Should I … exercise or nap? Do that loathsome chore or put it off for another day? Save money toward financial goals or go to Costco? Journal or watch reality TV?

These decisions become even more difficult when you don’t have reminders of what that “future you” will look + feel like if you make the hard choices today.

That’s why I love time-blocking to improve self-discipline. As I write this, I have a timer counting down a focused work session. At this stage in my business, nothing gets me closer to my main goals than producing more content. But, I don’t always feel like writing and creating!

Most days, I would trade anything to get on the floor with a giant drawing pad and map out a marketing strategy! Or draw in my new bullet journal! Or explore my growing collection of day planners!

A photo posted by Lisa Jacobs (@iamlisajacobs) on

There’s a time and a place for all of that, for sure. But, none of it gets me closer to my big goal for the year, and I’ve sharpened the focus of my working hours to ensure I use them to arrive at my desired destination.

Because at the end of the day, the only thing standing in your way is the distance between where you’re standing and where you want to be. As Lao Tzu says,

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Here’s to a most successful year,

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