Together with December/January, August is the perfect time to ‘reflect and plan’. We traditionally kick back a little in the summer months and take advantage of more downtime than usual. The phone doesn’t ring off the hook and many of our colleagues and clients are also enjoying a break. It’s the perfect time to step back and look at the shape of our business from a number of angles.
To assess any aspect of how we implement change it’s important to have some metrics. This always sounds grander than it actually is – we simply mean you need to measure certain things and allocate numbers to them. For example, if you have chosen to look at your monthly income, expenditure, hours you work, number of clients you have, how many coffees you drink, how many days off you take, whatever is important to you – you will need to know what your starting point is.
A journal or spreadsheet? Choose your preferred method of note taking and start to create a picture of your current position and detail your aims for the next month, next year and beyond – this allows you to start to work towards your goals and see how you’re doing. It’s all too easy to overlook our successes sometimes so having the actual figures in front of us is non-negotiable reality.
To give you an idea… you might earn £2200, spend £1800, drink 12 coffees and work 160 hours every month. If you are aspiring to earn £7000, spend £4000, drink 2 coffees and work 120 hours each month you need know what you’re working with. That means knowing where you are now and also where you need to be. You can also build in other less tangible things such as services you offer now and services you dream of offering. You might want to expand into new geographic areas and currently operate from one. Write it all down. This is the reflection part of your work.
Next you take the many strands of your note-taking and expand each one, one at a time, carefully. Pick them apart and work out how you get from a to b. For example, scope out how many new customers you’d realistically like, how much revenue that might bring, how you would manage the workload – see where it takes you. Unless you are planning on hiring someone you are unlikely to work less hours or take more holiday as a result. Many of your reflections will weave into each other. This is the planning part.
You know where you are, you also have a good idea of where you want to be. You are also starting to have an inkling of how you do it. Ask for help. Talk to people. You’re not expected to have all the answers. Our Mastermind groups are designed precisely for this reason. You can share your thoughts and ideas with the group, benefit from shared experiences and even make yourself accountable to the group.
As an example, let’s take the easiest thing on our imaginary list – reducing your caffeine intake.
Coffee now 12 Coffee goals 2
Work out your preferred time for a boosting, energy giving, delicious cup of coffee. If it’s 8am and 11am, plan it into your day. Enjoy them mindfully, they’re a treat to yourself. Now, to fill in the other drinks you’d normally have, work out what you’re going to replace the coffee with. Decaf? Water? Juice? Make a plan and stick to it. Tell people, make it happen. This is an overly simplistic example but you can see what we’re getting at.
This example is true of every aspect of your working day, week, month, year. Decide what shape you’d like it to have and bring in some plans to make it happen. You can apply metrics to your work self and personal self – wherever you need to see improvements. We believe one of the key ways to do this is to measure and be accountable. This is a good time to involve other people and go through your goals with them. Making bold statements and voicing your ambitions is a really effective way of making them real. Again, the Masterclasses are an ideal forum for this.