The Only Question You Need to Ask to Review This Year & Plan For Next

What I usually do at the end of each year is a simple review & planning exercise, by asking and answering the following 3 questions:

  1. What should I stop doing? i.e. what hasn’t worked so well this year?
  2. What should I continue doing? i.e. what has worked well this year?
  3. What should I start doing? i.e. what gaps are there that still need to be filled?

I then take the answers to those, combine them with some of the big ideas I’ve had for the coming year and put together a month by month plan of what I’m going to focus on.

It’s a simple but great way to focus yourself on what’s been and gone, what you can learn from it and how that can be applied to what’s coming – which is the entire point of doing these kinds of exercises.

Instead however, this year I decided that there was really only one question which matters…

It’s what I asked at the beginning of this year, have been asking myself continuously throughout the year and it’s what I’ve been asking recently of my clients and members of my private mentoring group. Can you guess what it is?

The only question you need to ask and answer for yourself to make next year your best year yet {ugh!} is this:

What do you want?

It’s deceptively simple. And yet ever so hard to determine, if my clients’ experience is anything to go by! The most common stumbling blocks include:

  • Not being honest & truthful enough with yourself to ask for what you deep-in-your-heart, irrational-but-I-gotta-have-it want.
  • Usually because you’re afraid you won’t get it and only want what you think you can have/get.
  • You don’t know where to start when it comes to defining what you want.

If it helps, here are a few areas of your business where you may like to get ultra clear on what you do want…

{Tip: Sometimes it helps to define what you don’t want first, before you can identify what you do want}.

What type of people do you want to be working with?

Forget the typical demographic descriptions and go instead with:

  • The values your people might share.
  • The beliefs they might have on matters of importance to you.
  • The kinds of movies, books and entertainment they may (or may not) enjoy.
  • The kinds of clothes they might wear and style they might convey.
  • The kind of language they might use.
  • How they might treat you when they work with you (Think things like: Respond on time, pay on time, respect my boundaries/processes/rules of engagement – or not!).

For example, the longer I’ve worked online the more I’ve honed in on the kind of people I really enjoy working with versus those I don’t. They are people who:

  • Share the same core values as I hold, primarily Integrity, Freedom, Excellence, Knowledge, Respect & Love.
  • Value the experience I can share, the knowledge I can impart and the guidance I can provide enough to pay for it, and not expect it to be given to them for free all the time.
  • Respect and follow the processes I’ve defined and run my business with.

How do you want to be working with them?

Again, go beyond things like the usual types of support such as digital products, one on one, group workshops and think instead of things like:

  • In one-off sessions or longer term relationships.
  • Working to a fixed schedule or provide support at your own pace.
  • Steady, ongoing effort or bursts of intense focus & energy.

For example, this year I’ve made a big effort to build a very sustainable way of working by:

  • Offering only ways of working with me which enable me to work with people on a longer term basis – it’s been so much more rewarding to see the progress and gains than one-off consulting sessions.
  • Providing support at my own pace, so I can respond when it suits my schedule & lifestyle with a young child (and another one on the way!), except for the odd scheduled call for which I define my availability.
  • Combining the steady, ongoing effort of providing long term support to Pioneer Collective members with one-off, ambitious events such as ONE K in 1 DAY and running our first ever conference – a style of working which plays to my strengths and energy levels.

What kind of schedule do you want to work to?

Most of us – even those of us who work from home already and run our own businesses across multiple time zones – are conditioned to work to a pretty standard schedule: Monday to Friday (or Sunday to Thursday if you’re in the Middle East), day in, day out. It’s time to think beyond this:

  • Do you want to work every day? Or every other day? Or maybe just 2-3 days a week?
  • When do you work best? Mornings? Afternoons? Late nights?
  • Do you want to be on demand all the time, or define when you are available to provide support?

For example, this year – and over the past 3-4 months specifically – it has been a blessing to:

  • Not have to work every day and only work on 2-3 days a week (i.e. with scheduled appointments/calls).
  • “Work” – as in write blog posts, tweet/Facebook etc. – only on the days when I want to or can.
  • Be able to define the time slots I can and want to be available for clients to book calls, so I can be at my best for them.

What do you want to be doing on a daily basis?

Get really specific here – think about the actual tasks and activities you want to be doing on a daily basis and those you don’t:

  • Which tasks do you enjoy doing? i.e. You look forward to and which energise you.
  • Which tasks do you dislike doing? i.e. You dread, avoid, put off and which drain you.
  • Can you create a more relaxed, achievable schedule of all the tasks you perform than you might currently have without it damaging your business?

For example, this year I’ve:

  • Actively been assessing and noticing which tasks yield results and which don’t so I can use my time more effectively.
  • Been less than rigid with how often I’ve posted to the various blogs we have on our sites – despite starting off the year well – and not noticed a negative impact because of it.
  • Entirely stopped doing some of the tasks I find tedious even though I can do them – such as keeping our sites up-to-date technically – by paying for services which do this for me.
  • Outsourced other tasks which are time consuming but I find enjoyable – such as travel research – because I can use my time more effectively by using a range of VA services.

By asking myself and focusing on what I really want over the past 18 months, I’ve been able to build and grow my business ventures in a way that is more enjoyable, more sustainable, more effective and more profitable for both me and those I support, and ultimately more rewarding than ever before. So I’ll ask you again…

What do you want for this forthcoming year?

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