5 Steps to Staying on Track

Can you believe we’re a quarter-way through the year already? Every January, I host a 7-day series titled A New Year for A New You to review my life + business and setup a successful new year. I love to check-in with my goals regularly to ensure that I’m actively making progress toward what I really want in life (versus falling into outworn patterns and bad habits).

Here are 5 steps to staying on track all year through …

5 steps to staying on track in creative business

Step #1: Create a list of lofty life goals to guide you

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.

Step #2: Focus on one main task

Therefore, you need a plan – a main goal for the year that will get you closer to those lofty life goals, such as “Pay off all consumer debt” -or- “Lose ten pounds.” In order to achieve your main task successfully, I have two important tips …

“Silence your phone.” Inside The Luminaries Club, we’re just starting our 9-month Illuminate course to help members shine the spotlight on their creative businesses. When I introduced the first monthly module, I asked that everyone please “silence their phones,” so to speak.

When you sit down for a movie or presentation, you’re asked to turn your phones off to reduce distraction and improve focus. When I’m teaching, I ask my students to give me their undivided attention. I recognize that there are fabulous bloggers and other teachers in the industry, but I liken the overconsumption of everyone’s teaching to taking every college-level math class in one semester. All of the different teaching styles, techniques and materials in one semester would result in one very confused student!

Ask yourself two important questions …

  1. What ONE THING do you need to learn right now to improve your business? – AND –
  2. Who is the BEST person to teach you that lesson?

The internet is getting noisier by the minute; I’m struggling to keep my own head above it all. I’m currently on a 21-day cleanse from social media. I’m using the time to organize my thoughts + notes, remember my own mission (instead of chasing new lessons + bloggers all over Pinterest), and clear my inbox, desk and schedule of busywork.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and aimless, you might try to “silence your phones” and take a break from all forms of social media as well.

(P.S. If you’re thinking to yourself, There’s NO WAY I could leave Facebook for a whole week; I have to check this, post that, etc. … then that’s absolute proof that you need to leave Facebook for a week!)

Step #3: Appreciate what’s abundant

In life + business, it’s easy to focus on what you want and don’t have. Too easy. The best way to shift that feeling of lack and desperation is to bring awareness to what’s already abundant in your life.

Want more customers? Enjoy serving your current customer base. Ask yourself:

  • How can I treat them like gold?
  • What can I do this month to WOW! them?
  • How can I use this sale to over-deliver?
  • How do I let them know how special they are to me?
  • What have other companies done for me that left me feeling appreciated + understood?

Target does all this for me: they offer hot coffee (Starbucks) at the front door and serve up open & clean spaces to browse a trendy selection of merchandise at reasonable prices. They created an app (Cartwheel) that delivers coupons and specials to my mobile phone. I can choose which discounts I want, and at check-out, the clerk scans the bar code directly from the app for extra savings. Genius!

You can also spend a month appreciating the material abundance that already surrounds you. Organize your pantry, clean out your closest and drawers, hand wash your car, and spruce up your space in simple and inexpensive ways (like a spray of Febreeze and a vase of fresh flowers).

Step #4: Develop a daily practice

This is something we’re actively working on in the first module of Illuminate: The Creative Business Course (exclusively for members of The Luminaries Club). A routine that offers a schedule to follow is one of the most important things you can create for yourself. It not only helps you create new patterns and habits, it also saves vast amounts of mental energy essential for the critical and creative thinking you’ll need throughout the day.

I knew that when we started the course, most members would be chomping at the bit to learn the meatier topics that will come later (how to find + grow an audience, marketing + advertising techniques that convert, etc.), but no business is complete without the simple things: a solid daily practice, a plan for long-term growth, and a clearing of unfinished work + nagging obligations.

Step #5: Take it one day at a time

Don’t let a lazy, overindulgent weekend spoil all of your efforts. If you slip off course, it only takes one good decision to get you right back on track. With bigger goals (that take longer to achieve), it’s better to work every day toward long-term transformation rather than try to adhere to rigid deadlines with a “succeed or fail” mindset.

For example, if your goal is to become debt-free by a certain deadline, and you miss it, you’re more likely to carry the debt longer. However, if your goal is to change your life by becoming debt-free (and keep it that way), you’re more likely to see that intention as a new way of life rather than a gamble that you may win or lose.

Your daily routine will help you stay (and get back) on track. Without it, you’re more likely to return to outworn patterns and old habits. Set a work schedule, a workout schedule, and a chore schedule. And then challenge yourself to follow it for just one day. Then another. Then a week!

A day planner proves to be a very useful tool so that you can write down what you’d like to accomplish in advance, and cross it off when it’s complete. I love and use an Erin Condren planner. If review + reflection is new to you, it’s not too late to have Your Best Year yet! Get a copy of my annual workbook + planner at its end-of-season clearance price right here.

Until next time and all the best,

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