This year is going to be different. We hope.

If you were like me and watched those carefully laid plans burn to the ground when COVID hit last March, you may be wary to plan a new year.

As January gets off to, unfortunately, a rocky start already, there’s still something in the air about a fresh start (at least on things in your personal life, business and relationship). Politics and COVID aside — we’re learning how to adapt in chaos and I think this year will show it for most people. Where last year was all about confusion and shut-downs and the unknown, I see this year as cautious optimism, small smart moves and being true to yourself and values. But perhaps I’m projecting that on you.

My kids were gone last week with my in-laws so I binged watched Bridgerton in two days and want to address you as My dear reader now. Maybe that will still happen and I can channel Mrs. Whistledown.

Now let’s get into the heart of today’s episode —

How to Make 2021 Awesome (even if it’s already a dumpster fire)

If you’ve been a listener of the podcast since the beginning you know we’ve introduced two goal-setting frameworks before in episodes 30, 32, 33, 78, 79 and 111. I absolutely love those frameworks and highly recommend them for different ways to think about your year and accomplishing everything you want in your business.

Today, though, I want to do a different approach.

Whereas goal setting for me is so often tactical — I think 2020 has shown us that tactics go out the window in crisis and cut to the root of who we are and what we really want to do and accomplish and hold dear.

As definite aware over-achiever, 2020 helped slow my roll, personally. It helped me truly learn white space. And as I’ve talked about on this podcast last year, dear listener, shifted my identity and how I see myself.

The one thing that I’ve been saying to my close friends during COVID was that I didn’t want to return to the crazy hustle and bustle pattern we’ve been in once things “returned to normal.” As we’re seeing now, normal may not ever return in the way we imagined it, but I knew the demanding hours and drive and always going both in business and at home weren’t what we needed or wanted.

And that is how we arrive here in the second week of January, holding optimism and caution hand in hand as we look to what does this next year bring?

So how do you merge your values and personal life with business life into a planning session?

I’m calling it the non-negotiable year.

It’s part boundaries and part dreams. 

And this is how you do it for yourself.

As always, when doing big picture planning, I begin with personally, what are the things I want to accomplish/or have dates for. You didn’t build this business to run your life, you’re building this business to live the life you want. Let’s brainstorm this a bit.

So, what matters most to you this year?

What are the non-negotiables that must take priority?

Who do you need to connect with and make time for?

What does that look like on a calendar? Logistically?

What do you need to do for yourself?

What did 2020 show you about self-care?

What about taking care of your mental sanity?

For me, a few things that came up were non-negotiable date nights on Wednesday with my husband. We already did a lose date night weekly, but it constantly was getting shuffled and rearranged and often ended up as Netflix binging because we were tired of being on the go.

That’s not what date night was intended for and my marriage and how I show up works better when my spouse and I are on the same page. Also, date nights with my kids. Or day dates. You know I have four kids between 5-11 and since COVID, we’ve been homeschooling and are always together and never leave the house. That makes our family time special but doesn’t give me time one on one with them.

If you have siblings or multiple children, you know how important it is to connect with your children and see them for who they are without others around. So, we’re implementing weekly day dates where I get to take one kid with me alone to hang out. Talk.

 I have one child who doesn’t speak much unless she’s by herself, so it’s SUPER important to me to make sure to give her space to find her voice this year. And maybe encourage her to speak up around others too.

Like 90% of America, I have a physical non-negotiable. Often it’s like lose 10 pounds, drink 100 ounces of water daily, etc. Because of some health things happening last year, I’m in the clear to exercise again and want to make it a priority to move again in 2021. I’m not going to attach weight to it because I’m learning to show my body grace for all the things it brings me through. But instead be healthier. And my final personal non-negotiable is to do something for myself that has nothing to do with anything. Guilty pleasure if you will. I’d say reading — but that’s already something I do daily.

In fact, I just received a new young adult dystopian series in the mail I bought myself for Christmas. Reading is life to me. No, this is something I’ve talked about doing for years but never made time for. I’m blocking off 30 minutes every Friday to watercolor. It’s a hobby I discovered a decade ago that I really enjoyed, but then you add three more kids and life and suddenly hobbies dry up. My husband bought me a watercolor painting subscription box and I’m going to practice and allow myself to be bad at painting to learn how all over again.

While it feels odd to spill my guts right here — it’s also strategic accountability. Hundreds of you will listen to this today and in the back of your mind every now and then, when you hear my name or listen to this podcast, you’ll wonder if I’m sticking to any of these.

So back to you, dear listener.

What non-negotiables must fit into your life this year?

What did 2020 show you was important?

Once you take the time to pick a few (don’t overwhelm yourself — let’s be realists here), let’s carry that over to your business. I love January because I get to rewrite the story.

I understand I could literally do this anytime in the year, but January is when I allow myself to completely reinvent everything.

  • What did you love about your business in 2020?
  • What did you hate?
  • What did you learn?
  • What changed?
  • What matters most?

When you answer these questions, it clearly starts to fill in the gaps of what you need to DO to build the business you want.

Notice I didn’t say take your business to the next level.

Some of you listening are barely hanging on by a thread this year. 2020 was not kind to you, for many reasons, and your business doesn’t look the same as it did 10 months ago. Some of you reinvented your business during COVID and are wanting to hang on to what you’ve started. Not everyone needs to grow and expand their business every year — your business was meant to give you the life you want.

When I met with my friend and business partner, Layne Booth, over the holiday break she asked what my mission or purpose was. My job is to help women create businesses that will change your life.

For some that means bringing in an income that will change your life. For others it’s providing a schedule and structure to be the woman, wife, mom, volunteer you want to be. For others it’s to create something that matters and will change the world.

I’m here for all of it. Those that dream so big you’re afraid to tell others, and some whose dreams are so normal and wonderful, they’re afraid to tell others.

They are all important. And they are all worth chasing.

So, let’s ask again:

  • What did you love about your business in 2020?
  • What did you hate?
  • What did you learn?
  • What changed?
  • What matters most?

How do you make your business fit into your life right now, and what do you need from it? Answering these questions usually gives you a trajectory to follow. Like how you want to serve clients, or what you’re selling, or what your hours will look like, or pricing should be.

Now let’s break that down into a plan.

Based on your 2021 schedule and time, how do you want to show up? What are you offering? How are you selling it? — This gets to the heart of business. This is what everything else needs to be built around. Are you launching things? Do you have a goal of clients/products you need to sell quarterly? monthly? weekly? Write those down.

We aren’t concerned with the how right now — just the nuts and bolts of what your business needs to look like to support the life you want. Usually at this point you’re looking at your business nuts and bolts and either think that’s totally do-able or are freaking out that it seems entirely unrealistic.

If it seems unattainable — what part freaks you out? Is it the sheer number of sales? the price? the hours? Figure out what is causing anxiety and reimagine what it could look like.

 I find myself often telling clients — there are no right or wrong rules in your business. You created it, so change it up so it works for you. Just because others do X, doesn’t mean you need to also.

The final part I like to map out is how I am getting there.

If I know what I’m selling, which in 2021 for myself is Makeover My Website will launch three times, a brand new 90-day program called Makeover My Marketing debuts in February and I will actively take new 1:1 clients into my Accelerator a few times this year.

In order to hit those goals — what do I need to do?

Could I have done this in 2020? No.

Why? What needs to be different?

This is the question we forget to ask ourselves when planning. Our goals and plans often require US to show up in a way that we previously weren’t. I need to increase my visibility personally.

It’s why my world of the year, which I actually picked, is BOLD.

I saw my nuts and bolts, the non-negotiables and things I want to accomplish for my family in 2021 and decided I would have to be bold to pull it off. That bleeds itself everywhere. It’s why I’m doing daily live videos on my personal profile. Amping up the content on the podcast and it’s visibility. Actively seeking out podcasts to be a guest on.

It’s almost like fill-in in the blank of If X has to happen, I must do X.

Then pick a few projects 1-2 per quarter you’re going to focus on so you can hit those goals. If I try to run FB ads, hit up podcasts, go live, write more emails, all this week — I’ll fail miserably and quit all the goals I wrote out.

Don’t set yourself up to fail.

Give yourself grace and space to build that business ALL year long. Not just in January.

Commit to the business you’re building on your own terms.

Be clear about what has to happen to reach those business nuts and bolts.

Make a plan of how you need to do it and who you need to be. Then get to work.

You’ve got a life to live.

And I’m cheering you along every step of the way this year.

About Marketing Magic:

The Marketing Magic podcast is where women entrepreneurs trying to do all the things come to get inspiration, business strategy, and on-air coaching on how to get their business noticed and growing. If you have a business that people need to know about in order for it to grow, you’re in the right place. This is the place to uncomplicate your marketing. Be sure to listen, subscribe, and leave a review! Join the conversation of other unapologetically successful women in her Facebook community, The #girlboss Club.