by Jenna Kutcher
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we can’t and shouldn’t plan out an entire year in one sitting. We’ve been forced to pivot and change and move with the climate, often navigating through unforeseen and unpredictable circumstances. We’ve had to be willing to stay resilient, try new things, and go in new directions. With 2020’s uncertainty, also came a revelation that perhaps the way we’ve been planning our businesses hasn’t been the most effective method, after all.
Going into 2021, it might feel slightly debilitating to try to set goals or map out the year as a whole. (“Slightly” = massively, TBH.) So, I think it’s smarter to go into this new year with a different sort of approach. No matter if you’re in a 9-to-5 career or run your own business, one thing’s for certain after last year, and that is that we have no clue WHERE we might be in another 365 days.
That’s why I’m going to plan my year at a glance with white space and room for change. Here’s what I’m focusing on as I set goals for my business this year, to preserve my sanity if and when things do change, but also to stay on track with my priorities and larger vision.
01. Make plans but stay flexible.
I’ve never been a resolutions kinda gal because they just seem too, well, resolute. The same goes for setting goals, too—now more than ever. If you can, set goals that are specific and ambitious and measurable, but leave room for them to adjust if necessary.
To me, it’s more about setting intentions than hard and fast goals. The word “intentions” itself is so much more freeing: you can intend on working toward and achieving something, but there’s space to pivot if unexpected circumstances come into play.
Another tip? Write down your intentions and look at them once a day. No, this doesn’t mean you’re locked in forever… You can still tweak later on if necessary, AND studies show that we’re more likely to achieve our intentions/goals when they’re written down and we revisit them often.
02. Go quarter by quarter.
Another thing I’m doing this year? We’re takin’ things one quarter at a time. There have been seasons of my business in the past where I’ve loved having a birds’-eye look at a year as a whole. But this year, it just doesn’t make sense. I have a general idea for our bigger projects and launches but have left room for flexibility.
Instead of even trying to guess the state of the world in July or November, we’re working through the year in increments. If I have the urge to launch something—whether it’s a new or existing program—I’m going to work it into that coming quarter. At least then, I’ll have a firmer idea of what the current economy, environment, and collective emotions are like at the time instead of having to guess several months into the future.
We’ll likely be creating some materials a bit more on the fly because of this approach. But for the most part, it’s more logical to only plan things out short-term to best serve our people with what makes sense in each individual season.
03. Pursue peace over profits.
My mantra this year is: peace over profits. Of course, we’re still planning on selling our regular programs and products, but if a particular partnership is stretching us too thin or something isn’t sitting right… I don’t care how much potential income it might make, this year it’s a hard no if it doesn’t protect my peace.
Now, I’ll acknowledge that picking and choosing opportunities based on peace over profits is certainly a privilege as a seasoned entrepreneur. And I count it as a blessing that all of my own business’s offers fully align with my peace, along with the vast majority of our partnerships.
However, even if you’re a bit younger in business, if you have one product that fires you up and one that absolutely drains you, I’d urge you this year to focus on the fire-starter. You’ll be more inspired to perfect and promote it, and it’ll likely lead to more profits in the long run because of that, anyway.
04. Leave wiggle room to ebb and flow with life.
This goes hand-in-hand with planning the year incrementally, but to take it one step further, I’m taking a page from my own book a couple years ago when, as a new mom, I blacked out my entire calendar for a year. While I’m not going quite THAT far, I am intentionally working white space into my schedule to allow for more freedom and wiggle room.
I don’t just want the freedom to pivot if the world gets wacky again, either. I want the freedom to sign off of work for a 2 p.m. walk with my family. I want the freedom to start a Tuesday a couple hours late because I felt a little off and needed to take a couple hours to refill my mental health cup.
I’m building breaks and opportunities to unplug, breathe, and just *be* into my schedule. After life pretty much halted in 2020 with the arrival of a pandemic and quarantine life, I realized just how hard it was for me to slow down and rest. By blocking it into my daily routine, I’m making it a priority to honor slowness and allow myself to recharge so that I can continue showing up in my work-o-sphere as my verrrrry best self.
05. Focus on what’s worked before.
Lastly, I’m looking at 2021 not as an opportunity to launch 101 new things and dig into new avenues for growth and expansion. Nope, nope, nope. After last year, I’ve realized this is the time to sink our teeth into what’s worked super well before and will continue working well into the future.
We’re letting data speak and looking at numbers and the true needle movers. We’re digging into what’s really performed best and yielded the biggest results for us in the past, and rather than pouring into new projects, we’re seeing how we can tweak, add to, and perfect those offers so they’re better than ever.
Not only will this preserve our energy to feel ready for any potential curveballs, but it also allows us to get more creative with the things that already exist and how to make those EVEN better for our audience.
Enter: A New Year
As we gracefully allow 2020 to move out of the way, we welcome in a new year. With a new year comes new opportunities, new chances to launch our dreams, and a new calendar to mark our journey. 2021 is a year where we can let go of the expectations and instead lean into the uncertainty and let that lead us each step of the way. Let’s allow ourselves to openly practice the flexibility, patience, and grace that so greatly challenged many of us through 2020. Let’s approach this year not with jaded, frustrated hearts, but with the eagerness to let it unfold before us. You in? Same here, friend.