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My Top Tips To Start Off The Year Strong

My Top Tips To Start Off The Year Strong

“Slow and steady wins the race.”
~ Proverb

I want to share with you some of my top tips to start the year off strong and by strong I don’t mean from pushing yourself hard.

What I’d actually love is if you could find a way to ease yourself into this New Year much like you might a steaming hot bath. It’s so very easy to get swept up in the newness of a brand new year and if we’re not careful, we are in danger of burning out all of that fresh and exciting energy. So by “starting off strong” what I don’t mean is bolting out of the gate. What I actually mean is how to start the year in a way that sets you up for greater levels of both resilience and sustainability in your business.

Reflect on last year

If you are anything like me, you’re more interested in looking at what you will do next in your business than you are at looking at what happened over the last 12 months. It’s actually really important to resist the temptation to dive into planning and goal-setting before you’ve spent adequate time reflecting. I encourage you to look at your past 12 months in business with fresh eyes and a sense of curiosity. Often we think we know what happened without taking a look under the bonnet (so to speak). I often get the feedback from clients that they were surprised by what they discovered when they took the time to review their previous year in business.

I have a whole set of questions and journaling prompts inside my annual business planner which I talk more about below, but if you don’t want to buy the planner, here are some review prompts you might want to use:

  • Write out any lessons you learned. I like to keep a lessons learned log i.e. a spreadsheet, which I update throughout the year.
  • Write out what worked — your successes and wins no matter how small!
  • Write out what didn’t work plus why you think it didn’t work.
  • Do your finances! This one is SO important, even if you feel like you made so little that it’s not worth counting, I urge you to still review the numbers. As the saying goes: where our attention goes, energy flows, so get your attention on money, if you want to see more of it.

Get strategic

With your review out of the way and before you dive into action, I would recommend taking some serious time to think about what you want to achieve with and in your business over the next 12 months and how exactly you plan to do that. One of my pet peeves around this time of year is the focus on goals and resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some goals, I am a planner through and through, but plucking goals out of thin air and without a strategic context is not only a waste of time but can actually be counterproductive too.

I published a whole piece on how to make your business plan more strategic on Medium this week and you can read it here. And to use the planning system I use for my own business head here.

Schedule in downtime

When it comes to business planning, most people have a tendency to overestimate what’s possible. As Bill Gates famously said: Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years. So it wouldn’t surprise me if your plan, if followed to the letter, would be in danger of causing you some serious burn out. That’s why, it’s crucial that you plan in your downtime.

Do this now: grab your paper (or digital) calendar and look over the year to see when you would like to take some holidays or simply take a break from your business, think about this on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. Next, schedule those breaks in. Block those times and days off so that nobody can book calls or sessions with you during those times. Protect your downtime fiercely.

Now revisit your business plan, scale it back and ditch some goals if you know on any level that you’re overestimating what’s possible.

Prioritise 1 to 1 over 1 to many

Whilst I’d be the first to tell you about the importance of creating content for your business (and then getting as many eyes on it as possible), something that many business owners overlook is the importance of connecting with people on a 1:1 basis. I do this primarily through complimentary sessions and people often question how much time I spend doing this sessions. I always respond the same way — for me I’d much rather spend an hour talking to a member of my audience, helping them to identify next steps and supporting them as best I can to grow their business, than I would messing around with Instagram stories trying to create something that will grab the attention of my hundreds of followers (don’t get me wrong I do publish content in this way too but these days I leave it to my VA). You might think that if I am trying to grow my audience (and therefore my revenue) that it would make sense to try and communicate or market to as many people as possible, but that has not been my experience.

Not only do I enjoy my work more when I prioritise 1:1 conversations over falling into the time suck that can be social media, but I find I get more clients that way too. Now I’m not saying you can close down all of your social media accounts and give up blogging just yet but I would love to see you starting out this year in a mode of connection that sees you prioritising being in conversations with people in your audience more than scrolling mindlessly through insta.

Find collaborators and partners

The few business owners who do value the importance of 1:1 connections, tend to focus on connecting with potential clients and customers. What can get overlooked, but has the potential to grow your business immeasurably, is collaborating and partnering with other people in your industry or related industries.

Getting yourself in front of other people’s audiences is an essential key to growing your own audience and therefore your revenue. There are various ways to do this including, but not limited to, being on someone else’s podcast, doing a guest post for one of the big name online publications such as Elephant Journal or Tiny Buddha or doing a collaboration with a peer (such as this one I did with 

Helen McLaughlin). If you are not regularly connecting with peers in your industry and getting yourself in front of other people’s audiences you’re missing a huge trick. So as we ease into this year, I encourage you to start thinking about building these sorts of relationships too.

Something that really anchors me is having a solid business plan. If you would like to go through my business planning training, head here to get everything you need to create your strategic business plan. 

Five Things I’m Doing To Start The Year Off Well

Five Things I’m Doing To Start The Year Off Well

“If you believe you can change — if you make it a habit — the change becomes real.”
~ Charles Duhigg
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I want to share with you five things that I’m doing to start the year off well. My hope is that they may inspire your own list of things that can support you to start the year on the right foot.

The key to all of these things is that mainly they are not specifically “business” related. They are things that are key to improving my personal life, which I know will, in turn, have a positive impact on my business.

1. Clearing my space

I spent several hours cleaning and organising my office. I’m so grateful to have a dedicated room from which to run my business, however, when we moved into the new house, my office was a hot mess of boxes, piles of paper and uncared for plants. Not a space I really enjoyed spending time in.

I got ruthless and threw a lot of old papers into the recycling, found a home for everything that needed one, watered and pruned my plants and cleaned the floor and surfaces. It felt sooo good.

It was so wonderful to start the day in this space and I know that keeping it clean and organised is going to be essential for my mental wellbeing over the year. Clutter and chaos in my external environment definitely has a negative impact on how I feel on the inside so I’m excited to cultivate more calm by keeping my office tidy and organised.

2. Getting more sleep

I typically don’t get enough sleep. Period. On a daily basis, by the time my partner and I have got our two boys to bed, tidied up and washed the dishes, it usually close to 10pm. Given that we need and want some time to relax, decompress and connect with each other before bed, this means we often go to bed way too late. We were often getting to sleep as late as midnight, only for our alarm to go off at 6.30am! Cue exhaustion.

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how to fix this, including getting better at meal-planning so that we can eat earlier and thus start the boys bedtime routine earlier, so that we can be ready to start winding down at 9pm instead of 10pm. We’ve made a promising start on this.

We’re also committed to having less screen time in the evenings and reading more before bed so that we sleep better.

3. Daily meditation

My mind, body and soul has been craving more mindfulness in my day to day for months (if not years!) now. Having small children and a busy business to look after has meant that some of my spiritual practices have taken a back seat in recent years. I’m also not one who does well with typical, silent, sitting meditation and so for many years my meditative practice was running. However, since having children, as a result of a compromised pelvic floor and related lower back pain, running hasn’t been on the agenda for me.

A while ago my partner bought me some virtual reality goggles for my birthday so that I could use them for fitness classes when weather or workload prevented me from getting outside to exercise. What I’ve discovered recently is that they are also great for meditation.

I’ve found an amazing app called Tripp, which I’ve been using morning and night to meditate. The interactive, immersive nature of the guided meditations really works for me and I’m already feeling so much calmer and less stressed out.

4. Daily exercise

This one is huge for me. I know that a lack of exercise in recent years has left me low on energy and feeling disconnected from my body. Working online means I’m sitting down for much of the day and a lack of movement over time leaves me feeling sore and achy and less inclined to move my body. It’s a negative cycle.

I’m now doing a combination of walks in nature and boxing and dance classes on my virtual reality goggles to make sure I spend some time each day moving my body.

We also dusted off our bicycles at the weekend and went on a lovely family bike ride in nature which is something we’re committed to doing more of as a family. Being more active gives me heaps more energy.

5. Drinking more water

For years I’ve been in the bad habit of making myself a cup of coffee to drink on my client calls. Given that I can often have as many as 3 or 4 sessions a day, my caffeine intake has definitely contributed to low-level feelings of stress a feeling of being wired. And given that my go-to drink is coffee, I’m aware that I’m in no way drinking enough water and that doing so has a negative impact on my energy levels and overall sense of well being.

I’ve committed to drinking more water each day so that I avoid the effects of low-level dehydration and reap the benefits of drinking enough water each day.

And that’s it, five new habits (not resolutions) that I’m committed to implementing in my life this year.

I appreciate that none of the things on this list are particularly groundbreaking, but it’s been really helpful for me to think about the key habits I want to put in place that will have a ripple effect on both my personal and professional life. How about you? What new habits might support you in 2023? Feel free to let me know in the comments.

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