#40: Reflect, Analyze and Plan Now for the New Year

Where do you want to go in the new year (metaphorically)?

On today’s show, we’re going to set you up right for the new year. I’m going to talk about how you can reflect back on the past year, analyze the good and the bad, and then plan for next year.

The end of the year is the perfect time to think about the big questions surrounding your freelance business. What does success and growth look like to you? To me, growing my business means continuing to earn more money in less time, so I can have a personal life, pursue new interests outside of work and travel a lot.

This is the perfect time to schedule a solo business retreat—a time of reflection, analysis and evaluation of the INSIDE of your business. It’s a time to step away from client work and the busyness of our lives.

First up, you need to look back to look forward. Evaluate your freelance business in 2019. What were five successes you had or five things you really loved about your work this year? Write them down.

Next, write down five things you disliked or hated or that were frustrating this past year. Even areas where you thought you failed spectacularly. Write them down.

Now, begin to evaluate those lists. What areas do you love that you want to double-down on? What areas do you hate that you want to avoid getting into next year?

Are there things you want to accomplish or achieve, but you’ve just felt stuck? How can you get unstuck from projects?

Were there red flags with clients that got you involved in a project that is now frustrating you in some way? Are there clients that just get you down? Do you get emails from certain people and immediately want to run and hide? Maybe it’s time to fire some clients and/or look how to replace that income.

Now, do a mini performance evaluation of yourself. What do you personally need to improve upon, what areas do you struggle with, what are you not great at? This is where you can think of the things in your business that you can delegate, automate and terminate. Some things you can delegate to others; some things you can automate through apps and services; and some things you can just terminate from your business.

When it comes to delegation, hiring a virtual assistant (VA) might be a good option.

Another thing you might want to think about for next year is defining or redefining your value proposition. Your value proposition is WHY someone should hire you. What do you offer that no one else can? What sets you apart?

A few years ago, I created an ultimate goal that defines me for the year. My goal states: To be a respected, go-to writer-and editor in the association industry.

I printed out that goal, which is hanging near my desk. That sign reminds me constantly that everything I do needs to go back to that goal—unless I have a good reason that a project or client doesn’t meet that goal. This process really helps me from straying too far from what I want to do with my business.

So, what would be your big goal that everything goes back to? What are you trying to do with your business? Who do you want to reach? What projects do you want to focus on? See if you can put that in one sentence that encompasses most of what you want to strive to do with your business.

Lightning-round questions you could also consider during your solo business retreat:

  1. If money were no object, but you still had a freelance business, what would you be doing?
  2. What are your non-negotiables? What do you want to stop doing in 2020?
  3. What marketing tool or event would you like to invest in?
  4. What is your big financial goal next year? Be bold!
  5. What is a dream client or project?

Quotes about Failure:

Bill Gates: “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”

Biz Bite: Pick a word of the year

The Bookshelf: Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel


Paul Jarvis’ idea of the Company of One (book, podcast)

Episode #3 of Deliberate Freelancer: Host a Solo Business Retreat

Episode #36 of Deliberate Freelancer: Spotting Red Flags and Scope Creep

Episode #39 of Deliberate Freelancer: Raise Your Rates—Without Emotion

Episode #30 of Deliberate Freelancer: How a Virtual Assistant Can Help Your Business, with Cat DiStasio

Episode #26 of Deliberate Freelancer: Delegate, Automate and Terminate to Improve Your Business

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