Growing your business
As a busy birth professional, business owner and mother, I often forget to set aside time to reflect on my life, my passion and the future direction of my business. I get wrapped up in tasks and "to-do" lists and forget to plan for and work toward my goals for the future. Goals are those achievements that we set our sights on, that will enhance our lives (and the lives of others). The goals we set and work toward feed our passions and give our lives meaning. If I haven't identified (spoken or written down) my goals, then sometimes I feel as though I am just aimlessly wading through life rather than focusing my time and energy on something that really serves a purpose. Without goals, I can easily get off course and end up not accomplishing those things that are most important to me.
At the same time, I also often neglect to set aside time to identify the goals that I have already accomplished and over time this leaves me feeling burnt out. I want to share with you some of the steps I have taken over the past year to set goals and identify accomplishments to help motivate you to set aside time to do the same for your life. It has truly made a difference for me and I hope it will benefit you as well.
This year, I started keeping track of three important or noteworthy things that I accomplished each week (though it has been so fun that I am now starting to do this daily). It has been so rewarding and motivating to see my progress each week. I also keep track of how much my business has grown each month (number of childbirth education students, new customers, social media followers, etc). It feels very fulfilling to recognize important accomplishment and milestones, such as the number of families you have worked with (and likely made a huge difference in the lives of) in your career. It is fairly easy to get into the habit of keeping track of your wins if you keep a journal nearby or jot down your wins on a calendar. There is also a great app called WinStreak that lets you keep track of your daily "wins" and YourDoulaBiz offers a great solution for keeping track of your doula clients.
Many people cringe at the words "strategic plan," but when you schedule time and break it down into smaller, reachable steps, is extremely rewarding. Just as I set aside time for dentist appointments or client visits, I need to schedule time to dream about what I want to do with my life and business, then to write down and work on my achieving my goals. It helps to break down goals into monthly and yearly milestones. I think about what I want to accomplish this year and then plan smaller goals I can accomplish each month that will lead to my yearly goals. I also have 3, 5 and 10 year goals and goals for vacations/time off too. By planning ahead, I ensure that I stay focused and only work on projects that will ultimately help me reach my goals and fit with my plans and dreams. Of course, my goals change as life requires, but the process is still useful for helping me to evaluate my life and keeping me heading in the right direction.
Whether they are small, easily accomplished goals like cleaning out a drawer or larger, more involved goals like expanding your business, we won't be as likely to accomplish them if we haven't written them down, made them a focus and given ourselves uninterrupted time to work toward them. You can use a calendar and set aside an hour or two (or more) per week to work only on your goals. I have been putting goals in Wunderlist and then listing the subtasks that I need to do to accomplish my goals. This app is very flexible and allows for multiple lists (groceries, household tasks, goals, etc) and sharing lists with others. The optional chime that dings once an item is completed is satisfying and motivating; I can't wait to check off the next task. Just don't let the app become a tool that lets you ignore goals and focus only on tasks. Every month, review your goals and set deadlines for yourself to stay focused.
It really helps to have someone else to be accountable to when working on goals. I am far less likely to slack off or postpone tasks if I know that someone else is counting on me. This year, I was blessed to find two other colleagues who formed a group with me that meets virtually every week to support each other. You can find a partner or group in your area or online. Think about what you want to work on this year (whether personal or business goals or both) and look for a friend or colleague that has similar interests. Commit to this partnership for a period of time and take it seriously. Make sure you are checking in with each other and holding each other accountable for getting things done. Set aside time to talk about progress on a weekly or monthly basis. Maybe you get together for coffee or set aside an hour on the phone to talk about nothing but your progress so far, your goals for the next check-in and your long term goals (six months, a year, etc). You will probably find that you are learning a lot from your partner or group, as well as accomplishing more than you would have on your own.
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