If you're anything like me, you LOVE the feeling clarity gives you. A sense of relief and renewed purpose. A sense of readiness, like you've just rediscovered your footing on unsteady ground. And if you're anything else like me (in this case I hope not) you have an atrocious memory!
Thinking through the last 365 days was tough! I can hardly remember what I was up to each month (which is why I'm now glad I have things like social media, my blog, and business records to remind me what I did this year). In one of the many Facebook groups I'm in, someone asked in December about yearly goal-setting resources. I realized I hadn't intentionally thought about setting goals for 2016, so I gladly picked up some free goal-setting worksheets people recommended! I have never been a big "New Year's Resolutions" girl, but I think it's likely because I never had a realistic or practical way to set and keep track of those resolutions.
I'm excited to say the worksheets I discovered for 2016 are SO GREAT! In these resources are a plethora of questions that prompted me to dig deep into where I've been in 2015 and where I want to go in 2016—this includes both personal (health, family, friendships, etc) and business (social media, finance, time management, etc). I've seen other bloggers and entrepreneurs share their goals and accomplishments in a blog post before, and I never felt like I was at a point where I could share things so personal and vulnerable (what if I failed and everyone knew?!) This year, I decided to take the leap and just go for it. If you're feeling uncertain about this yourself—maybe you want to take the leap too, but wonder if it's worth it, who will care, or you're worried about failing—here are my reasons for sharing my goals:
- I want to share who I am with you and get to know you too! None of us is an island, but it's hard to believe that sometimes. I want to share where 2015 took me and where I want to go in 2016, whether I meet all my goals or not, because I want to encourage you if at all possible. You're welcome to share your goals with me too (I would love that)!
- Sharing my goals is a way to live my life more intentionally (I want to CHOOSE how I live my life, not just let life happen to me)! It's also a way to keep me more accountable to my goals. I'm more likely to follow-through when I know I'm sharing these meaningful things with you (that goes for you too)!
- I want to achieve big things this year! But like my last point, I need to have intentions in order to make those big things happen.
- Yes, I still feel a little shaky about the possibility of "failure"…but like I shared in this blog post, I want to approach these goals and the sharing of them from the mindset of "This is a thing I can try in my life! It may help me, it may not. Either way, I will have learned some new things about myself that WILL serve me in the future. Win-win!"
2015 Year In Review
The Wonderful Things I Achieved In 2015 Include:
- First full year of real business! (I only started to go "all in" in my business at the tail end of 2014)
- First full year of marriage!
- Survived first tiny apartment with my husband (it was REALLY TINY guys), moved to second apartment which we super love for so many reasons!
- Met lots of amazing people, friends and family alike
- Improved in communicating (one of my biggest struggles is talking about how I'm feeling, especially in situations that make me feel vulnerable)
- Traveled to Maine
- Shot more weddings, took on lots of new clients!
- Loved and respected myself more
- Invested in myself (photography and self-care education, a down coat, plants that make me happy, books, spending time doing yoga and meditating)
- Made my day job work for me (I was able to incorporate my photography skills. Awesome!)
- Made my first organic all-purpose cleaner. It's awesome and makes me freak out less about chemicals in my home.
The Biggest Lesson I Learned In 2015:
I am valuable and have worth. Acceptance, compassion, love for myself as I am, without judgement, is amazing and just what I needed!
I Was Truly Transformed This Year By:
- Giving myself space to be.
- Running my own business and being "all in" and figuring it out.
- Choosing to take risks.
All My Business Accomplishments In 2015 Include:
- First full year of real business!
- Sold first prints to a client!
- I totally made income, not just sporadic pennies, so to speak (which is what I WAS doing 2012-2014). I more than covered my expenses, which is better than what I would have hoped for in my first "all in" year!
- Worked with my first "cold inquiry" clients (as in, I had no personal connection to them, no mutual friends, etc)
- First repeat clients
- I chose to invest in my business, which will help me in the short and long term
- I connected with lots of other photographers and entrepreneurs around Boston. They're pretty neat people (that was an understatement).
- First (almost) full year on Instagram, and first full year of having a Facebook business page.
- I emotionally "owned" my work (instead of focusing on devaluing it), and I found joy and excitement in learning about business. That part is cool because I never thought before 2015 that I would ever do anything "business" related, be an entrepreneur, or have success in that realm. Surprise! Can any other creative entrepreneurs out there relate?
The Biggest Business Lesson I Learned In 2015 Was:
I need systems and clarity! Flying by the seat of my pants without solid goals and plans isn't super effective, and doesn't help my business grow or mature. Everyone starts somewhere so I don't have regrets here, but I want to grow in this area in 2016.
My Business Means To Me: (this questions is a biggie for me and really helped me get re-aligned in my "why")
- Freedom to do the work I'm passionate about, that has purpose.
- I get to choose what I do, how, and with whoever I choose without the fear of not being enough.
- I'm choosing to believe that I (my personality, strengths, weaknesses, desires, dreams, gifts, etc) am enough!
I also filled out a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). I have semi-lengthy answers so I won't share them all here, but I encourage you to do your own SWOT analysis for your life and business! This was another one of my favorite parts of these worksheets. I did want to share my threats, because I hadn't thought about this before and I think it was really convicting (in a good way) and gave me clarity:
- My temptation to compare myself, my work, and my business to others. This is the FASTEST way to make me want to throw in the towel!
- Information overload! So many email newsletters, blog posts, videos, webinars, Facebook group discussions…a lot of it is really valuable information, but because there was so much of it, it became a time-suck, and anxiety and FOMO trigger! Definitely working on that in 2016.
- Emotional junk and baggage that kept me in "survival mode" instead of "growth mode" until I dealt with it. I'm admittedly an emotional person, always have been, and it's the lens I see the world through. This isn't a bad thing, but what isn't great is when my fears or other negative feelings start to feel enormous and take up my whole vision. It's important for me to regulate this, keep perspective, and be compassionate towards myself so I can move beyond.
I also did a social media check-in, looked at top 5 selling products and services, strategies that worked for me, the best and worst things about my business this year (and what I will do about the "worst things" in 2016—very helpful!), financial inventory (total income, total business expenses, profit, savings balance), and biggest lesson I learned about finance.
2016 Mega Goals
My Word/Motto For 2016:
Confidence. In the dictionary: "Certain about the truth of something." Self-assurance. Trust in the purpose, gifts and desires I've been given. Confidence to move forward and show my face when things suck, without throwing in the towel.
2015 was about giving myself the space to be, accepting myself as I am, and making the choice over and over again to not cast judgement on myself. So, it seemed right in 2016 to focus on confidence. Not bolstering my ego, but focusing on self-assurance and trusting that I am exactly where I need to be. Yes, even if I screw up, feel freaked out, or don't meet all the goals I set for myself. I still have so much to learn, and learning requires screwing up here and there. This is about the confidence to feel self-assured and unafraid even when I make mistakes.
My Health And Fitness Plan Is:
- Keep my teeth straight and cavity-free! (Real talk: I had braces when I was 13, and I hardly ever wear my retainers anymore. My teeth are definitely moving back to where they were a little, which is not my favorite thing.)
- Continue yoga 1x per week. If that feels good, take 1 additional day per week. I LOVE doing Yoga With Adriene!
- I would LOVE to earn enough income to get 1 massage every month to help the (maybe severe?) tension in my shoulders, neck and back. I'm currently not able to do this, but I hope to get there.
- Plan relevant, interesting, valuable content ahead of time and schedule it out for social media and blog posts.
- Build up my email mailing list and start sending out newsletters. This is one of those things I heard over and over and over in 2015 about how important it is for businesses. I never did it because it felt overwhelming. "I'm already struggling to think of interesting things to post on Facebook and Instagram, how will I think of even more things for emails?!" I wanted to do it the right way if I did it at all, and I want this to be the year. If you want to be one of the lucky people to get my first-ever real newsletter, feel free to sign up below! I promise to not spam you or send you sales pitches every day. Those emails are the worst!
- I want to make steps forward to grow my social media presence, make more valuable and genuine connections with awesome people, and be generally helpful and encouraging to whoever wants to read my (usually lengthy) posts!
- I have set two financial goals for myself. I know I wrote about the importance of sharing my goals, but I'm setting a boundary for this one, for now. 365 days from now, I may feel it would be helpful to share and at that point if it feels right I TOTALLY will. At this point, I'll share that my business is currently part-time, and the company I used to work for (also part time) was liquidated recently (ouch). So my goal is to find more ways to support the expenses and lifestyle that my awesome husband and I share. This one feels tough because it's the slow season for on-location portrait photographers and I live in a city (cost of living is high), BUT I'm determined to get there within the month.
- Create and use marketing plan(s): Marketing is one of those things I did sporadically in 2015. I didn't have a clear plan. This is another area of business that feels overwhelming, but I can do this and find what works for me!
- Get specific and clear in my business: Who are my dream clients, why, and how do I serve them? I developed some clarity in 2015, but I want to take this further.
- Keep focused on the task at hand: This is a personal goal too. I haven't been diagnosed with ADD or anything, but I struggle to stay focused when I feel like I need to be doing All The Things! I start researching one thing, then I want a mental break and hop on Facebook, then I see a really interesting discussion in a group and I want to read it or join in, then I realize I haven't checked my email in 30 minutes, so I do that and start reading a newsletter or email from a friend or client, and an hour later I've lost track of where I started. I want to be really mindful of how I'm spending my time this year, and catch myself when I start to go down these rabbit holes.
- Get organized: I really struggle to keep information organized. There is SO much helpful (and free) content online that I've collected over the course of the past year, but it's all unorganized. I want to make a plan to get organized: whether it's a physical binder or electronic folder system, I really feel the need for this so resources (and time) don't fall through the cracks.
- Scheduling: This one is tough for me. When it's up to me to create my own schedule and I have nowhere specific to be at any specific time, I struggle to stay disciplined and hold myself accountable. I bought a planner and have had trouble sticking to using it, but in the spirit of intention and mindfulness, I want to try using it and scheduling myself again. This includes: content scheduling for my blog and social media, checking in with my goals daily so I have a scheduled purpose for how I will spend my time, and scheduling time to actually go through and USE all the aforementioned resources I've collected. This is all in addition to any time spent at a day job or spent doing client work of course!
I have a whole additional list of things I'd like to accomplish, contingent on funds I have available to invest. I won't start focusing on those yet but I hope to be able to share those at a later time!
- Continue budgeting: My husband and I very recently started using YNAB together (youneedabudget.com) and we decided it would be a good idea to check in with our budgeting software every week. This is so we can start to become more aware of where our money is going, and if we need to adjust our spending habits. Budgeting and dealing with money and numbers have always freaked me out, but YNAB has been really refreshing. I'm hoping we can stick to checking in with this weekly, and whenever we develop more clarity and awareness with our money, maybe we check in once a month instead of every week. If you'd like to try YNAB for yourself, give their 34 day free trial a go. When you get hooked like me, use this link to save $6 on the full version!
- Be an affirming, supportive, encouraging wife. Not that I'm not currently ever those things, but I want to be more mindful of this and focus less on myself.
- Care for my body: I only have one, after all. Plan healthy meals for myself, drink water (two things I usually forget to do), continue doing yoga, cut down on toxins in my environment if possible.
- Read more, less screen time. I've recently gotten the sense that staring at screens drains my energy at a certain point, so I want to give myself permission to put my phone down and pick up a book. I think this one will be hard considering my tendency towards information overload, but I want to try.
Most of the reflections and goals I just outlined come from Sam Bell of Brand IT Girl. There are SO many other prompts I wrote answers for that aren't shared in this post, and it's such a thorough and helpful workbook! Get yourself a free copy here to reflect on 2015 and plan for 2016!
I also used a free printable from Lara Casey at this link.
There are also some really helpful "big picture" questions to help develop goals in a free guide from the Rising Tide Society. I answered all of the questions below before I dove into Sam Bell's workbook:
- If I was able to earn the money I need and desire for my life, how would I like to to earn it?
- If I were to achieve success, what would be present in my life?
- What would I need/want to learn in order to achieve what I want?
- Who do I need in my life in order to feel supported? (If it’s not an actual “who,” ask yourself what kind of people/what qualities in people would you need?)
- How will my accomplishments impact my life and the lives of others?
- What can you eliminate in order to get closer to your ideal life?
- Why is this goal important to me?
- How will this goal make me better in serving my clients?
So there you go, everyone! My year in review for 2015, and goals for 2016. To my supportive friends and family, THANK YOU for being by my side and encouraging me. And to all of my clients this year, THANK YOU for believing in me and choosing me to be your photographer! I care about each and every one of you and I'm glad to know you all.
Want to get in touch with me directly about anything in this post? Send me an email using the button below!
What things can you relate to in this post? If you are feeling excited about looking ahead in 2016, let me know what goals you set for yourself in the comments! What is your word or motto you will focus on this year?