Now before we get started with this process, I would invite you to take a few minutes to center yourself to take some deep breaths and to connect with your values. Now if the idea of doing values work is new to you, then you may want to check out my book, ACT on Your Business
, because I have several chapters in there that are devoted to processes and exercises to help you identify and clarify your values. But when we're talking about values, really I'm asking you to get in touch with what gives your life meaning and purpose, what you want your life to be about, and what matters most to you. And what's really important to remember about values is that they are not right or wrong or good or bad. They are highly personal. They are your values, and it is absolutely okay and even expected if your values look different from someone else's. For example, within my business, my values are radical service, conscious connection, powerful presence, and liberating love, and you can learn more about those four values over at my website CoachwithClarity.com, just click on values
, and I go into what each one means and why it matters in my business. And I'm sharing those with you because those are my values, but they don't have to be your values. You may have values around freedom around growth around family around tradition, those are examples of other kinds of values that people may hold. And that may guide the work that they do and how they live their life, and that is absolutely okay. So as you are thinking about what matters most to you, and the ideals around which you want to build your business and your life, understand that they are highly personal, highly individualized, and you get to decide what your core values are, no one could or should be giving them to you, you get to do that work. So as we prepare to do our planning for the upcoming year, I would encourage you to ground yourself in your values because as we do this work, what is most important is ensuring that the decisions that you're making and the strategies that you're creating are connected to your core values. Because if they're not, then it's going to feel out of alignment, it's not going to feel good, and it's going to move you further away from what you want to create, rather than towards it. So that's a little bit of prep work I would encourage you to do, is get really clear on your values, and again, you can check out my book, ACT on Your Business, for some additional information and guidance on how to do that.
So now that we are grounded in our values, we are ready to take the next steps towards planning our ideal year. Now part of this process involves asking yourself some reflective questions, and so before we even get started with that, I would love for you to decide, what process is going to best serve you? So for example, if you know that you are someone who does best when you talk things out, you need to speak something into existence in order for it to really resonate. Well, then you may decide that you want to record the answers to these questions, maybe on a voice memo app on your phone. Or maybe you want to partner with someone and have them ask you these questions, almost like an interview. And again, I would highly recommend recording it. But again, if you are someone who processes things verbally, go ahead and use that as your primary strategy for these reflection questions. Perhaps like me, you're someone who does best when you're writing things down, I would encourage you to have a journal and a pen handy so that you can free write around some of these questions. Whatever you do, just make sure that you have some means of recording your responses, whether it's audio or writing it down video, if that's what works for you, but I want to make sure that you are giving yourself ample time to explore some of the questions that I'm about to ask you. And then of course, once we've done the reflective work, we're going to translate that into strategy, and that's where writing down your goals and your intentions will be particularly helpful. So be sure that you've got pen and paper handy, because that is going to help you clarify what it is you're going to do this year and when you're going to do it.
So okay, we have grounded ourselves in our values, and we've decided how we are going to engage with this reflective process. Now it's time for step one, step one is the first part of reflection and this is reflecting on the prior year. So for example, if you are about to create your ideal plan for 2021, then we want to spend a few minutes reviewing 2020. And yes, okay, I know for most of us 2020 was a doozy of a year. And yet, even with everything that happened, many of us have still experienced tremendous growth in both our professional lives and our personal lives. So let's take a few minutes to really reflect on all that you've experienced in 2020. And to do that, there's four main areas that I'd like you to reflect on. The first area is thinking about what worked well for you in 2020. What are the things that you are most proud of accomplishing? And I want you to again, talk this out or write it down, but I want you to be really generous with yourself here. I want you to be your own cheerleader, really examine the things that you did well, the areas that you’ve shown, and the achievements that really bring you a sense of pride and accomplishment. So don't be bashful here. Let yourself really explore what you did well, and what worked well, for the past year. I would love for you to give yourself a full five, even ten minutes to just brain release all of the wonderful things that you did or felt or accomplished this year. And once you've had a chance to do that, then we're gonna set the timer again for another five minutes, and we are going to give ourselves space to think about the things that did not work as well, in 2020, and specifically, maybe the lessons we learned courtesy of 2020. So again, these are not failures, and they are certainly not mistakes but they are things that maybe didn't go as well as we would have hoped. Things that with hindsight, maybe we would change a bit. And so I would invite you to take a few minutes to think about the things that didn't work as well. And again, to jot those down or to record your voice and just have those on record. After you've given yourself ample time to explore the things that did work well, so that's part one. And the things that maybe didn't work as well and gave you some helpful life lessons along the way, that's part two. Part three is to define your key takeaways from the year. So what are the things that really stand out that make 2020 memorable? What will you take from this year? And after you've given yourself a few minutes to think through that, the fourth piece, I'm inviting you to identify what you will release from this year, and what you will take with you into 2021 or whatever year or time period you're doing this planning for.
So just to summarize this first part, I'm asking you to do a recap of the prior year, and the four things I want you to reflect on are:
- what worked well, what you're most proud of accomplishing
- what didn't work as well some of the life lessons that you picked up this year
- what your key takeaways are from the past year and moving forward
- what will you release and what will you take with you into the coming year
I highly recommend that you give yourself a generous period of time to do this reflection, I would say a minimum of fifteen to twenty minutes, but really give yourself that spaciousness to reflect on the year, the highlights, the things that maybe you would change if you could, and then allow that to inform, moving forward into the next year. Being really clear about the things that you're going to release, and let stay in 2020, and the things that you're going to take with you.
So here's an example of how I did my 2020 recap, I set my timer and I gave myself ten minutes to write down all of the things that I was most proud of in 2020, and what worked really well. And I won't go through my whole long list, but I will highlight a couple, namely, the fact that I launched my own coaching certification program this year, I am so excited to be supporting eleven coaches in developing their coaching mastery, and this is all leading up to eventually having my program accredited by the International Coaching Federation. So I am really proud of myself that I brought that into the world, and that program has been working really well for me. So I have a whole list of other things that also worked well for me this year, including this podcast! Hello, I started this podcast in 2020! So that's pretty exciting. And I have a list of things that didn't work as well, or some life lessons that I learned. And so here's an example, as many of you know, I launched my first ever virtual one day retreat called Grow with Groups. The retreat itself was amazing, and it's something that I will likely offer in the future. However, the way that I launched it, and the timing of that launch is something that, let's just say, was a lesson for my business, I decided to position this as a Black Friday offer. So I launched it right around the time of Thanksgiving was on, I had Black Friday bonuses, because I was curious to see if this would be a good time to offer a new service. Guess what? It wasn't. And I totally see that in hindsight, I don't know about you, but my email inbox was completely overloaded for that week around Thanksgiving. And I saw that reflected in the emails that I sent out about this virtual retreat. Whereas normally I have maybe 35 to 40% open rates on my emails, which is pretty, pretty standard, pretty good. During Black Friday, when I was promoting the Grow with Groups retreat, I think my open rates were around 10 to 12%. So a serious drop in what I'm accustomed to, and I know it's because people were absolutely overwhelmed by the volume of emails they were receiving during that time. So that was really helpful for me to realize, “Okay, you know what, in the future, I am not going to launch a service around Black Friday, it's not a good time for my people, it's not a good time for my business”. So while I may offer Grow with Groups, again, I will definitely change the timing of when I offer it and I will not do it as a Black Friday offer in the future. So that was something that maybe didn't work as well for me but again, provided me with some really helpful data moving forward.
So I had a lot of key takeaways in 2020, but I think my main one was that I can adapt and thrive in a challenging environment. Because as we know, 2020 was challenging for many reasons. We had Coronavirus, and sadly still have Coronavirus, heading into 2021. We also were faced as a society with racial injustice and how that was impacting our world and our communities. And then personally I had a very challenging 2020, I lost my grandmother to Coronavirus in June. In July, I had a surgery that did not go as planned and resulted in an extended healing time and recovery. And so I faced a fair amount of personal adversity in 2020 as well. And yet even with that I had my strongest year ever from a business perspective, my revenue went up, I increased my visibility, I started new programs. Really 2020 was probably my best year ever for my business, and so what I learned was that even when I am going through difficult times, I can still remain adaptable and flexible and I can thrive. And so that is my key takeaway from 2020 is that no matter what life throws at me, I can handle it, and I can rise above it and even create more and thrive. So that was my key takeaway from 2020. And so, moving forward, I am releasing some of my limiting beliefs around what I can accomplish in my business and how I relate specifically to money and finances, in my business, those I'm leaving in 2020. And moving forward, I'm really connecting with the truth, that I am an expert coach and business owner, and that I am wise. My body holds wisdom, my soul holds wisdom, and that wisdom can inform the work that I do, and so that's what I'm taking with me into 2021. So I'm sharing that as some examples of my own reflective work with this process. I hope that inspires you as well.
And once you've completed your reflection, then it's time to move into part two. And this is where we are going to start getting clear on what we want to bring forth over the coming year. And so part two is a brain release, that's my preferred term for brain dump, I call it a brain release. But I want you to set a timer for at least ten minutes, but however long you want. And I want you to write down everything and anything you want to create or experience or achieve in 2021. This I am going to ask you to write down because we are going to refer back to this list. So go ahead and make a list, and I mean, it no holds barred on this list. It can be about your business, it can be about your health, it can be about your relationships, it can be about your spirituality, your personal life, anything that you want to do or feel or accomplish in the year to come, I want you writing it down, get it all down, don't censor yourself, don't worry about organizing it or making it pretty, that's going to come later, I promise. Part two is simply giving yourself permission and time to explore what you may want to create in 2021. So let me be clear, this is a brain release, we're just getting it out of our head and onto the page. And just because it's on the page doesn't mean you necessarily have to do it, or do it in 2021, but if it's even a thought that you've had, I want it down on that page. So part two is setting a timer for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, however long is going to work for you, and giving yourself permission to just get all of your hopes and desires and dreams and goals out of your head and onto the page.
So that's part two, part one was recapping the year we just had, part two is a brain release about the year to come, that moves us into part three. So now that you've got this list in front of you, I want you to take some time to notice any themes that are emerging, and noticing the energy that comes up around what you want to accomplish. So that means going back and reviewing your list and see if certain ideas or certain goals belong together. Are there things that you want to accomplish that maybe fall under one category? Say business, or podcasting or fitness or health, start kind of grouping these things together and you'll notice that there are kind of certain themes or buckets that may be emerging around what you want to create in the year to come. So that's the first step is to notice any themes, and then I want you to notice where you are feeling energetically drawn or aligned. So are there certain themes or ideas or specific goals that have a lot of power behind them a lot of energy, even a lot of desire? Where are you feeling drawn? Once we have an idea of, kind of what we're working with and where we're feeling energetically pulled, then we can start prioritizing what we want to create in the year to come. So again, not everything on your brain release needs to be on your 2021 goals list. Some of them may be goals for a future year, some of them you may decide to release altogether. But I want you to pay attention to the energy and where you're feeling drawn to focus your time for the upcoming year.
So once you've done that, once you've reviewed your brain release, you've kind of organized it into themes and you've noticed where you're feeling energetically drawn, then it's time to move into part four. And part four is about deciding what you are going to say yes to and what you are going to say no to in the coming year. So let's start with the yeses, right? These might be ideas or projects or goals. They could be feelings or thoughts that you want to step into for the coming year. There's really no limitation to how you do this exercise, but what I would ask you to do is connect them directly with those values that we talked about at the beginning of today's episode. So if something is going to be a “hell yes” for you, how does it connect with your values? How does it connect with your life purpose? How does it connect with your vision? And how does it connect with your mission? So everything that defines the work that you do and who you are, we want to make sure that if you are adding ideas, goals, thoughts and feelings to your health, yes list that it feels aligned with your values and your purpose and the action that you want to take moving forward. So again, set that timer and give yourself some space to really explore what you want to say yes to because these become your priorities. And then on the flip side, I want you to give yourself time and space to explore what you will say no to in the coming year, it is so important that we create boundaries around our time and our energy, because if we are saying yes to everything, then we are going to dilute our ability and our energy to respond to the things that really light us up. So we need to be clear around what we are saying no to and where we are setting limits. Because when we say no to one thing, it clears up space and time and energy to say yes to something else. So I want you to get really clear both on your hell yeses and your hell knows. What are you absolutely saying no to in the year to come?
So let me give you some examples of, kind of what this has looked like for me. Part two, of course, I did my brain release. It was long, it was messy. I'm not going to give you all the details on that, but I will say that when I moved into part three, and I started organizing that list and noticing the themes that were coming up for me, I noticed four main themes. One was content creation, so how I'm going to create new material for this podcast for the book that I'm going to write in 2021. Lots of goals around creating new content. I also had goals around creating stronger systems in my business and ways that my ideal clients could come and connect with me. And then finally, I had some personal themes emerge as well, around my own physical health, and the idea of balancing accomplishments with acceptance, and around social health and what it looks like for me to create new friendships, maintain existing relationships, and connect with other colleagues. So I walked away from this process with four, kind of general themes that I knew I wanted to focus on, in 2021. And then as I started examining the energy around each of those, I noticed that they all lit me up, I was feeling really excited about all of them. And at the same time, I noticed that with the theme of content creation, there was already a sense of kind of pressure emerging around it, this idea that, “oh, I have to do this, I have to do this, I have to create a new podcast episode, I have to get my book out, I have to”, and then I started just kind of noticing that because whenever that “have to” feeling comes up for me, I start experiencing some pressure. And that goes against my desire to create a business that's really grounded in a sense of ease. So what that tells me is not that I shouldn't have content creation as one of my themes moving forward. No, I want to and I will, but I do need to be mindful of the energy that I'm bringing to that work. And so it's going to be particularly important for me to ground my work in a sense of ease, and flow and service because when I do that, then I move into a space where creating new content feels good. And so that's kind of what came up for me as I explored part three, both the themes I wanted to focus on and any sort of energetic tendencies that I was going to need to be aware of moving forward.
And then I moved into defining my own yeses and noes, and so I have a lot of things that I'm saying yes to number one is being visible and putting myself out there. So pitching myself for podcasts and summits, and, and vlogs, and all of that kind of stuff. And it also looks like exploring the space around accomplishment and acceptance, and what it looks like to work towards a goal, and yet also remain detached from the outcome. That's something that I'm feeling really called to, certainly professionally but in many ways, even personally, and what that looks like in my life. So those are some general things that I'm saying yes to. And in order to do that, in order to create space for them. I have to say no to some things. I'm saying no to comparing myself to other coaches and other people in my industry. I'm saying no to clients who are not the right fit, because let me tell you, not every client is the right client and not all money is good money. So I want to be really clear on who lights me up and who I most want to bring into my spaces. And I'm also going to be saying no to some volunteer positions that don't excite me. I love showing up in my community and being of service, but I need to make sure that I'm doing so in a way that feels energetically aligned, and where I'm not setting myself up to feel overworked, overwhelmed, or resentful. So there are some things that I will be saying no to moving forward, so that I can say yes, to the things that really matter most to me.
Okay, so we have worked through the first four steps of this process, and I've shared with you some personal examples. Now it's time to create your path for the next year. And so to start, I'm going to invite you to get really clear on the one thing that you want to create in 2021, or if not create, maybe continue or further. Now, that doesn't mean just one outcome, but it does mean getting really clear on kind of a guiding vision or purpose for your upcoming year. So as an example, my one thing in 2021 is to position Coach with Clarity as the leading expert in coaching and in coach training. So everything that I do within my business is going to center Coach with Clarity as being an expert in coach training. So once you're clear on your one thing, then you can start thinking about the things that you will think, feel or do in order to support your one thing. So with this part of the process, we're not quite goal setting, although we are starting to think about things that we want to do, but I do want this to be a little more expansive, so that it's not just about action, but it's also about thoughts and feelings that will support the one thing that we want to create or commit to. So for example, to support my one thing of being an expert in coach training, I will step into an expert mindset. What does it mean to cultivate the mindset of an expert, and to own my authority? I will trust myself, and I will trust the process. So that as I'm building and growing things, if it takes time, if I'm being called to practice patience, I'm going to trust the process, I'm going to embody a sense of spaciousness and ease as I do so. So that ease piece is really harkening back to the idea of creating new content for my business, and being really clear about the energy that I want to bring forth with that. And then to do that, I'm going to prioritize some of the themes that I mentioned before, I'm going to prioritize content creation, visibility strategies and creating systems for my business. So those are the general things that I will think, feel, or do in order to support my one thing of positioning Coach with Clarity as an expert in coach training. So I'm sharing this as an example, hopefully to inspire you as to what your one thing could be, and then how you can think about what will support you and accomplishing your vision for the upcoming year.
So once you have that, okay, now it's time to set some goals. And I would encourage you to break it down into quarterly goals. Now, you are certainly welcome to break it down into whatever time frame works for you, but I just find 90 days is a really great time period, to set and achieve a goal that will be in the service of your one thing. So I want you thinking about what your first quarter goals – so if we're doing this on an annual basis, let's think about January to March – what are some of the things that you want to accomplish in that three month period from January 1st through March 31st, in support of your one thing? How do those goals connect with the themes that you've identified? And how do they connect with your values? So for example, you all know one of my themes is content creation, and so my goal for quarter one is to complete all of the course materials for my certification program. That's the materials that my students receive, but also instructor materials as well, and to ensure that I have everything ready to go to submit to ICF for full accreditation. So that is my primary content goal for the first quarter. Now, of course, I will be doing other content related things, I'm still going to be producing this podcast and I'm still going to be creating materials for my membership, but my main focus for quarter one is going to be on completing the actual course material for the certification program. Because once I do that, and then once I submit it to ICF for accreditation, it will position me as an expert in the field of coach training, having an accredited program is a part of that. So that's why I've selected that as one of my first quarter goals. I do have a few first quarter goals that relate to visibility and systems and so forth, and I'm already also thinking about goals that I want to set down the line. I mentioned that in 2021, I want to write a book. That is definitely on my goal list, and that is something I am choosing to not bring into my first quarter because, believe me, with the certification program, I got enough on my plate, but I've definitely jotted that down as something to visit for quarter two, but I'm getting ahead of myself, we'll get there in a minute.
All right, so give yourself some time to think about the goals that you would like to achieve, or at least work towards in your first quarter. Once you are clear on those goals, then we need to talk about your KPIs, and KPI stands for key performance indicator. It is a very fancy term that basically means what are you going to measure to make sure that you've accomplished your goals? So what are the quantitative and qualitative data points that you want to consider when you are working towards your goals? So for me, when it comes to content creation, maybe I'm looking at how many people graduated from my certification program, or for the podcast, maybe I'm looking at the number of podcast downloads. For the membership, I'm looking at new members, and how many members are leaving. There's all sorts of different things that I can measure from a quantitative perspective to give me data on how I'm doing with my goals. I also want to have some qualitative measures in there too. Things that can measure how I'm feeling about the work that I'm doing, how my members are feeling about the work that I'm doing in the membership, or my students are feeling about the certification program. So I want to think of ways that I can accurately measure and assess those more qualitative aspects as well. So once I've established what those KPIs are, I can then start thinking about, okay, how am I going to measure them and how am I going to keep track of them? And I find it easiest to do that on a monthly basis. So then what I do is break my big quarterly goal down into monthly chunks. So what are the things that I am going to work on in January, in February, and in March to achieve each one of my goals? So continuing with the example from my certification program in January, I know that I need to develop three weeks of content for the certification program. So that looks like the slides that I present, the additional guides and resources that I provide my students and also starting to think about, from an instructor perspective, what do I need in place, if I were to create an instructor manual for each one of those weeks, what needs to be present? So I'm thinking about what that looks like specifically, in January, I'm getting even more focused, so just three weeks of content there. And honestly, the KPI for that is pretty self explanatory. Either I get that done, or I don't, so it's kind of either a yes or a no. For other things, that KPI may be a little less clear. So for example, my visibility goal is to pitch a certain number of podcasts, and then ideally get booked on those podcasts. So my KPIs will likely be the number of submissions I make. That is something that is 100% in my control, how many people I actually pitch to, but another thing I'm measuring is how many people say yes, and while I may not be able to control whether or not someone says yes to my pitch, looking at the percentage of acceptances tells me a lot about how I'm doing. So if I have a lower percentage of acceptances, maybe I need to refine my pitch. Or maybe I need to be a little more focused about who I'm pitching. Maybe I'm not targeting the right podcasts or the right audience. So when I measure that data, it tells me a lot about how I'm doing and what I may need to tweak moving forward. So I do that for January, I do that for February, and then I do that for March. So I've taken my quarterly goal, and I’ve broken it down into smaller monthly goals that I can work towards week after week. That is what I'm going to suggest that you do as well. So you take that quarterly goal that you've set that is in alignment with your one thing, and you break it down month to month. So what will you accomplish in January, in February, and in March to make that happen? And then what will you measure to see how you're doing and if you are hitting your targets. And for now, I only want you to focus on the first quarter. I think sometimes when we plan too far in advance, we can actually either wind up paralyzing ourselves because it feels like so much and it's so far away. But also we don't give ourselves room to adapt as we go. There may be things that happen in the first quarter that will influence my decisions for quarters two, three and four. And if I get too granular in my detail for those quarters too far in advance that I'm not really leaving much room for the magic, and that's kind of my thing. So I prefer to get super specific one quarter at a time. Now, again, I am aware of what I will be working on in future quarters, for example, quarter two and quarter three, that's going to be all about my book, but I don't need to get super specific in what I'm going to do. I'm going to address that probably in mid-March. In mid-March, I'm going to sit down and give myself some time to really plan what the next quarter is going to look like. And that's a process that I talked about a little bit in Episode 22
of the podcast about having your own CEO day, and so that's what I will do quarterly is have a CEO day and plan what I want to accomplish in the quarter to come.
All right, my friend, this feels like the perfect place to have the Clarity in Action Moment. Okay, so I have just walked you through my entire annual planning process. It starts with reviewing the past year, and then it moves into having a brain release around all of the things I would love to accomplish in the year to come. I organize them, I notice themes, I pay attention to energy, and then I allow that to inform what I'm going to prioritize and say yes to and what I'm going to limit and say no to, once I have that in place, then I am able to start creating specific goals for the year, and I go quarter by quarter. So guess what? Your Clarity in Action Moment this week is to take this process and make it work for you. It starts with carving out time on your calendar to do this work. So that's step one, give yourself a good hour, even two hours if you can, oh my gosh, if you could give yourself a whole day even better, but carve out some time on your calendar to do this work. And then follow the process that I've outlined for you. To the extent that it works for you. Again, this is flexible, I encourage you to adapt it to meet your needs and your goals but again, I think if you start with your values and your big picture vision, you recap your prior year, you create some structure around what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it for the coming year. And then you break it down quarter by quarter, you are going to find this to be a process that really works for you. And I would love to hear how it goes for you. The best way to find me is over on Instagram @CoachwithClarity
. Let me know, did you use this annual planning process? How did it go? What is your one thing for the coming year and what will you be working on over the next three months? I would love to hear more about it. So come find me over @CoachwithClarity
. Feel free to slide right into my DMs, I would love to hear how this process goes for you.
All right, my friends, this is it. This is the last episode of 2020. I am so honored that you have spent the last nine or ten months with me and I am looking forward to bringing you even more clarity in 2021 and in the years to come. So I wish you a very, very happy new year. I will see you in 2021 I'll be in your podcast feed next week and until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.