Transcript: 3 Lessons I Learned in 2014

December 4, 2014

AMY PORTERFIELD: Hey there, Amy Porterfield here and welcome to another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast. 

So excited you’re here today because we are talking about one of my very favorite topics; and that is, we’re going to be diving into goal setting; specifically, planning, processing systems, all that good stuff. 

If you follow my content you probably already know that I’m a bit of a fanatic when it comes to planning for the New Year. I just truly love it. I love new beginnings, I love changing things up. I like looking back, examining what worked, what didn’t work, and then building something new or improved from there. 

I think we can learn a lot from things that didn’t work well and we have to really celebrate what did work well so we can build on that. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when something worked really, really good this year. 

So just make sure that when you start down your goal-setting path you start to really think about what worked. Did you stop and celebrate? That’s something I didn’t do a lot this year so it came to mind when I was putting my notes together for this episode. 

And then really spend some time on what didn’t work. What didn’t make you feel really great and excited and want to do more of. I think reflection is really important in this process. 

The thing is, I first struggled with creating this episode because so much of what I do in terms of planning for the New Year was already outlined in my episode last year around this time. So it was Episode #23 and really I highlighted how I get ready for the New Year, how I create my calendar, how I do my promotions. 

I dove into so much that I would’ve probably talked about it again here because these are strategies and systems and processes that I use over and over again. So here’s the thing, I have new information for you today. Things that I’ve really examined and fine tuned and gotten better at so that I could actually teach them. 

So I do have some new content for today. But, if you haven’t already listened to that goal- setting, planning for the New Year episode that I already did I want to encourage you to do so. It’s at and here are some things I covered. 

I went into how I earned the right to promote my programs, a little bit about content development and promotion there; how to know when to say “no” to new opportunities; how to do more with less; how I optimized my on-line programs so I actually create less but expand on what I’ve already created more; and what to do if you are just starting out in your business and you don’t know what to focus on; the importance on focusing on one big project at a time; how to create marketing funnels for increased revenue; and my experience, both good and bad, with masterminds. That’s what I covered last time I went into goal-setting and planning. 

This year we’re going to get into a few of those things a little bit deeper and I’m going to introduce some new concepts that could help you with your planning as well. So, for today’s episode I’m going to cover three lessons from this year that I’m taking into the New Year with me. Some of them were easy lessons to learn. Others, not so easy. So let’s go ahead and dive in. 

Okay, so here we go! 

Lesson #1 

If you don’t build in the margin now before the year actually happens you will struggle to find that margin all year long. 

I’m speaking from experience on this one. So, first let’s talk about margin. What is margin? What do I mean by that? Margin, to me, is finding that time to breathe, finding that down time, finding the time to be creative or inspired. Margin is when you are not putting your head down and diving into the work and getting it done. 

If you know my content you know I’m a huge fan of taking action. So, most of the year I want to be taking action. But what I’ve noticed is that when I don’t create that margin, that room to breathe, I lose that creativity. I lose the excitement for wanting to work on the projects that I used to love and now feel like work. Margin in that space to actually breathe. 

So here’s the deal. It could be vacation time. It could be staycation time where you just set some time to just BE. Be home with the kids, be home with your husband or wife, just be in silence. It also could be time to create something new. So you are actually creating time to create. 

Now that’s a little bit different than taking action. So, to me, taking action is I know I have a promotion coming up, I need to sit down and create a webinar. That’s being creative but it’s tied to a promotion. I’m creating something, there’s a due date, I’ve got to get it done. Go, go, go. 

Creating time to be creative is a little bit different. Maybe you’re reading some books, you’re doing some new art projects you wanted to work on. You’re getting out of the house and exploring. Whatever that might be. I just know deep down in my gut that we need to create more time to just be because we will be better in our business. 

The reason I’m so passionate about this is because I noticed that although I had good intentions for margin this year I didn’t plan for it well enough and so it didn’t show up. And all year I was struggling to find it. I really do think that it made me less creative and I didn’t have as much fun. 

Let’s face it, a lot of us that are building our business, entrepreneurs, or those that want to build a business, we do it because we want to call the shots. We want that freedom. We want to have fun with what we’re doing. 

So, why do this all if we’re not building in that time to be inspired, be creative, have fun, just BE for a moment, breathe for a second so that we’re not always deep in the trenches getting it done. Because when you do go back into the trenches you’ll be so much more effective. 

This isn’t new news. You’ve heard this all, probably, before. But the reason I bring it up here is because what I’ve noticed is you actually have to document it. Get it set in your 

calendar so that it actually really happens. So this is the practical side of building in the margin. 

The first thing, before I show you or tell you, I guess, how I actually did that for this coming year, because I’ve done a better job for 2015 building a margin than I’ve ever done, so I’m going to tell you how I did that. 

But, before I do that I think that it’s important that you get really clear about your priorities, what you really want to get done. What I noticed is when I jumped into the calendar and started building in margin I already knew the big promotions, the big projects, the big things that I wanted to implement in the New Year. 

So, because that was already in my mind I could breathe a little bit and think, okay, I’m going to get to tall that because I’m that achiever personality, the go, go, go. So I had to ease my mind and say, we’re going to get to that. We know there are promotions we want to get to and all that good stuff. It’s there. But, before we actually document it we’re going to build in some margin. 

If you’re that achiever, go, go, go type personality or you just want to make sure you are taking action one exercise you can do before you build in the margin is what is called the Buffett method. This is from Warren Buffett and I think that it’s a great little exercise. It’s not the end all, be all, but it’s just a way to get all of these ideas and thoughts out of your head. 

The Buffett method goes like this: First, you are going to write down all of  your priorities, a complete brain dump; everything that you want to do, everything you need to do, have to do, whatever word you want to use around it, just get it all out of your head. Now this isn’t necessarily the time that you’re going to be creative in thinking of great new ideas and exciting things. 

That can come later. The process here is just to make sure that everything that’s circling around in your head can come out for a moment just so we can create a little ease in your mind before you start building in that margin. 

So, everything you think is a priority, write it down. This should take you a good ten, maybe 15 or 20 minutes even, just sitting there putting it all down. And if you have 

some great ideas and you want to be creative, get them in there, there are no rules here, just get it out of your head. 

Then, once you do that, Step 2 of this method is you’re going to narrow down to your top three priorities. The reason why you are going to narrow down to your top three priorities is this is a time, because we’re in that reflection mode right now, this is a time to get really clear on what really matters. In this context we’re talking business. 

You could do this for your personal life, for your health, all that good stuff. But, specifically, all of those priorities for your business, choose the top three. This might take you a little while. When I did this, this was really, really hard. 

The Buffett method, for Step 3 is the one that just wrecks me. That is that he suggests that you throw the rest of the list away. 

I don’t know how practical that is for most of us. But, when I read that I thought, holy cow! What if I did throw the rest of the priorities away? What would that look like? How would that make me feel? How would that translate into my business? What would my business look like? 

The thing is, I kind of cheated. I didn’t throw everything away. However, when I did do this exercise it was really clear to me my top priorities of my business. When those surfaced to the top everything got a little bit more clear for me because when I looked at those top priorities I thought, okay, so if this is a priority then this can’t be. It actually starts canceling some things out sometimes. 

So let me give you an example of a really hard decision I had to make for this coming year. One of my top priorities for 2015 is content creation. Now I’ve always felt like content was high on my list. However, quite honestly, if you look at my podcasts, I didn’t do tons of podcasts this year. 

Podcasts are the number one way that I generate new valuable relevant content. And what I realized is that this year, in 2014, content started to get pushed down to the bottom of my list because other things were taking precedent over it. That bothered me. It didn’t actually feel good because I pride myself on creating really good, valuable content. 

So, for 2015 it was clear. Content development was at the top of my list. And other things fall within content development for me such as list building. Because, when you create great content you can create list-building opportunities around it. Of course, podcasting falls into content development. More blog posts. Also, just other content that I might want to create such as a specific webinar or maybe an eBook or some cheat sheets or check lists. 

All of that falls into content creation for me. And it’s a big one. When you put everything like that in there it’s going to take me some time. 

Because content development is going to be taking such as focus in 2015 for me what I realized is I had to let go of some of the other things that I wanted to do. One thing I want to do is to create a brand new program around marketing funnels. To me, I think that is the next step for me because in the Profit Lab I teach how to create a Facebook Marketing Plan which is really like a Facebook marketing funnel. 

But, I noticed that so many of my students want more of that. They want to understand how the sales process works with social media. They want to understand how to move a social media fan or follower into a paying customer and what that funnel might look like. There are so many different opportunities there. 

I want to teach more about marketing funnels. So my goal was to create a program around that. However, I realized with such a focus on content creation, and I have some other things that I really want to focus on for 2015, I knew that it wouldn’t allow me to create the time and space needed to create this brand new program. 

However, this was a blessing in disguise because what it means is that this content that I create throughout the entire year next year will definitely have an emphasis on marketing funnels. 

I will get to practice with new content, put it out there, see what my students think, have them play around with it and try it and give me feedback. So, I have a very specific intention with my content and that is I can start to create a library around this concept I have of marketing funnels and how that looks with social media and list building and all that good stuff. 

I’m really excited about it. I didn’t have to fully let go of something completely but I did have to be a little bit flexible in terms of what I wanted the New Year to look like. 

If I’m not creating that product just yet then that means I’ve got to find different ways to make up the revenue that that new program or product could have contributed to the New Year. So, I definitely had to look around and think, okay, how am I going to make up for that or what’s going to take the place and all that good stuff. 

If you listened to Episode #23 you know that one of my core beliefs is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. So I created Facebook Marketing Profit Lab. I created that, I think it was three years ago. So I think, if I’m doing my math right, we’re going into the fourth year sometime in 2015 and I continue just to make that program better. 

I continue to really understand what my students want and am focusing more on making sure that their stories are told of how they’re using the program so other people can really take advantage of that. I fine tune and fine tune. 

I don’t need to create a whole other program to make a really big impact in my students’ lives because that free content and fine tuning what I already have done can make a really big impact. And, it allows me to do what? That leads me to where I started in this lesson, it allows me to create margin. 

So now that I’m really clear on my top priorities and even though I haven’t thrown away everything else, I‘ve kind of put it aside and I fine tune how it works into what I want my next year to look like. So, it’s really hard sometimes to completely drop a project or say “no” to something. But there are ways to create what you want to create by being a little bit more flexible or creative or more expansive in the way you see it. 

For me, I get to create a lot of free content around this concept of marketing funnels and social and list building and see how you all like it and see what it does for your business. And then from there, imagine what I can create in terms of a paid program once we’ve worked on it together all year and you’ve gotten some really good results. It kind of sounds like a win-win, right? 

Just be flexible. I wanted to share that example with you because you don’t always have to just say “no” to everything if it doesn’t fit in the top three, you can get a little creative with it. 

If you do this Buffett method or if you just spend some time getting really clear on what you want to do in the New Year, now it’s time for the calendar process. The calendar process is something I’ve already talked about. But I want to dive into it a little bit deeper because I learned some things this year that I didn’t do last year with the calendar. 

So this calendar, in case you haven’t listened to Episode #23 yet, this calendar is a huge piece of my planning process. I’ll take a picture of it and put it in the show notes. But, basically, it is a big wall calendar that you can use those erasable markers with. It’s just January to December. 

It’s the entire year and what I did was I sat down with my project manager. She used to be my assistant but she’s more of a project manager now. We’ve kind of refined her role. Trivinia sat down with me and we started plugging in all of the things that we want to do in 2015. 

I put all of my product launches in there for the Profit Lab and I’m revitalizing my Facebook 101 program so I’m going to do a push for that. And, I have an ads program that I worked on all year that’s coming out next year so I put the ads program in there. I put my affiliate promos that I love to do, B-School is something I believe in whole heartedly and I’m always proud to promote that. And I have some other promotions as well for affiliates. 

I put that all in there. Then I added my masterminds that I go to. You’ve probably heard me talk about my mastermind which I dearly love. And, every quarter we go on a trip and I looked at this and I looked at Trivinia and thought, this is insane. 

I can’t do this, because at the time I had actually built in time to create that new product I talked about as well. I hadn’t made the realization that that wasn’t going to happen yet. So that was in there. I looked at it and I looked at Trivinia almost in a panic and I told her, I can’t do this. 

She said, this is pretty much the year we already had this year. I thought, no wonder I felt so overwhelmed. And I’ll talk about some of the overwhelm I felt this year in Lesson #3 so we will get there. But, I realized this was way too much. So, what we needed to do was pull back and what Trivinia wanted me to do and I didn’t do it initially but then I’ve said, okay, I’ll do it, is build in some margin. 

We went back in and we actually decided, I’ve wanted to do this forever, we decided to take a full month off. My good friend, Michael Hyatt, who I’ll talk about a little bit more in Lesson #3 because he kind of fits in there really well, but Michael has been urging me and his audience to build this margin in in advance. He has taken a month off for a while now and I’ve always wanted to do it. 

I actually planned on doing it in 2014 and I didn’t stick to it. I was really frustrated with myself for doing that. So this time I put it into my calendar but I was fierce about it. Nothing could touch July. That’s the month that I’ve decided to take off. I’ve talked to my husband about it, I’ve talked to my family. 

I’ve let everyone know that this is the month I’m not exactly even sure what I’m going to do in this month. I have some ideas but this is the month that we’re not going to do any work. So I’ve already planned for that. 

Then I went back in and I took a few days off around important birthdays in my life. So, Hobie’s birthday, Cade’s birthday, my birthday, and I built in some extra vacation that I wanted because it’s great to have the month of July off but I still am going to need a few breathers throughout the rest of the year. So I put in vacation time. I don’t even know what I’m doing on those days that I took off vacation but I’m going to plan for it. 

In addition to that, I put in some what is called “flex time.” Now I think this came from Michael Hyatt because Trivinia also works with Michael Hyatt so she knows these little really good nuggets of planning that he does so she incorporated them into our little session and she had flex days. 

I kept asking her, what are these flex days? And I kept erasing them and putting in more projects I wanted to work on. Trivinia said, “you’re going to be mad at yourself that you’re not keeping those flex days.” 

So I started to put them back in and she explained that flex days allow you some flexibility around the projects you’re working on. If you need a little bit more time, if you need a little down time possibly. If you have a new idea and you’re just dying to try it out you have some margin in there for flexibility to do things that you want to work on. 

Now you could also see your flex days as those days to create more inspiration in your life, you know, go out and do something. Read a new book, take an online training program. I’m a huge fan of spending time on online training programs when I think that they are going to be really valuable for my business. So, I’m a student in every sense of the word. So these flex days allow you to do that. 

For me, a flex day might be two or three days in a row. I like to choose my flex days where I get a little chunk of time. So, a flex day might come after a big promotion. I should say, if there’s a big promotion there’s always a few rest days after where it’s like a mini vacation for me. But then, after that, I might do some flex days where I catch on some things, work on some stuff that maybe I haven’t gotten to lately, all that good stuff. 

Flex days were really important. So each month I have about three flex days built in there except on months that are really big promotional times for me like when I’m promoting Facebook Marketing Profit Lab. There are not a lot of flex days but I know that they are coming in the next month so I can hang on. 

Another thing that I want to talk about, and I won’t get into this in detail because I know I talked about it in Episode #23, but in my calendar I actually don’t just put in promotions. So, let’s say there’s a full week of a promotion, I put in the time it’s going to take me to write all of those emails for the promotion. I put in the content development pieces as work days. I will have four or five days just to write all of the email promotions for Profit Lab. 

That might happen a month or two before the actual promotion so I can get ahead of it. Or, if I have, let’s say the B-School promotion coming up, I know that I want to make some videos about it. I have some new ideas for my B-School promotion. I want to make videos about some of my bonuses so I’ve already planned time in January to film those videos. That’s on my calendar. 

The things that you need to do to get ready for the promotion should be in your calendar as well. Always give yourself a little bit more time than you think it’s going to take because it always takes us a little bit more time, at least for me it does, and a lot of my students have agreed to that. So you want to build that in as well. 

At this point I think we need to take a big breath because I know that I’m giving you a lot. Especially if you’re just starting out in your business and you’re thinking, holy cow, 

this is super overwhelming! If you’re feeling that way, one, I want you to take a deep breath and go to a place of gratitude that you get to design your business how you want it to be. 

All of this stuff that I’m putting into my calendar, and it might seem like a lot, this is my choice. I get to do this. So, because of that I get to build in margin and flex days and vacation time and all that good stuff so it’s not so overwhelming. So just remember who’s in control here. That’s you, of course, you get to decide. 

If you still work a full-time job and you’re trying to do this on the side, well then be really gentle with yourself in terms of your calendar knowing that something else is taking up a huge portion of your time. So, whatever you put into that calendar, it’s got to be the cream of the crop, the top things that you really want to do, because you know you can’t devote all of your time to it now. 

I think we need to be really careful with that, about putting too much in. You’ll know if you put too much in because you’ll look at this and think, holy cow, this is going to be a crazy year. You don’t need a crazy year. Listen to Episode #23 because I talk about getting more done with working less. So, definitely check that out as well. So that’s my calendar process. 

Two things I’ll tell you: Be ready to write and erase a lot, and we definitely did a lot of writing and erasing, a lot. And, do it with someone who knows you well or knows your business well that can be a different perspective for you. What happened when I did it with Trivinia is she would say, “Amy, you know you’re exhausted after you do a batch of videos. You need a day off after that.” 

That’s not something I would have given myself, ever. She was right though. I’m always really just emotionally drained after doing three, four, five videos. Also, this year I’m doing my podcasts in batches where I’ve always said I would do that and just never have been really diligent. I would do if for a while and then not do it. 

I have a plan in my calendar with four days each time I’m going to do a batch, four days blocked off to record my podcasts, do the research, get it done, really understand what I want to talk about, record, and then I can hand off to an editor. Those are on my calendar where there are four or sometimes three days in a row that it’s just podcasting. 

One thing I’ve learned the hard way is that when I try to work on multiple projects at a time. Like, in one day if I write an outline for my podcast, work on some new content for the Profit Lab program, and maybe work on a bonus for an affiliate, if that’s one day of what I have on my To-Do list, one, I never get to it all. And, two, I am so spent because my mind in going in a million different places. 

If you can design your days, if you’re so lucky, and this is hard for me but I definitely try to do this now, if you can design days based on themes. Like today it is just the Profit Lab. Today it’s just the podcast. Today it’s just a blog post. Then, if I have a little extra time and energy I can work on one more thing. 

I’ve heard lessons like this from so many people that I respect and I always think they are crazy. But I’ve started to dabble with this a little bit and I’ve realized it actually is doable when you spend your time wisely, when you really get specific about how you want to spend your time. So it’s just something to think about. 

Lastly, this is going to be a longer podcast than I planned so I apologize for that, but I’ve got good stuff coming up, I promise. The last thing I’ll say about doing this calendar preparation with somebody else is it’s kind of fun because you can bounce ideas off of each other. 

I did mine with Trivinia but my good friend, Rick Mulready, who lives in San Diego asked if I would help him with his so he came over to the house and we definitely dove in deep to his calendar. I think we spent at least a good two hours talking about his priorities, what he wants to focus on, what worked this year, what didn’t work this year. And then we started to map it all out. 

I did the writing so he could just sit there and kind of just think about all of this. And believe me, there was a lot of erasing as well. But, what I noticed from Rick’s is some aha moments came up where he realized, “oh my gosh, I have so much more time to work on XYZ than I thought and I’m going to build it into this calendar.” 

So he wants to work more on his funnels. He has actually put time into his own calendar where he is just working on that part of his business every single month. Imagine how powerful that could be. So build in the time where you want to focus the most. 

Now, one more thing, oh my gosh I keep saying that. One more thing and that is that you will realize what’s really important to you when you see it on a calendar. You’ll realize what you can’t keep doing in order for this to actually work. Like, for me, I realized I can’t keep doing one-off podcasts because if I don’t batch these I don’t get them done. 

That’s why I didn’t do as many as I wanted to do this year. And you don’t even know how much it crushes me when someone I meet in the real world will say, “I love your podcasts, I wish you’d do more.” 

I hear that all the time so I know there is definitely a want or need for it. Now I need to create the space to do it. My calendar allows me to do just that. For real this time, let’s move on to Lesson #2. 

Lesson #2 

Build a team around your core skill set. 

This is a huge lesson I’ve just recently learned and I’ve applied it so I wanted to share it here. This is a little bit different. It’s not necessarily about goal setting or planning for the New Year but I think we’re all thinking about whether our team is the right team. 

Do we have the right people in the right places? A lot of my students and people listening are just starting out so you might be thinking, is it time to hire a VA  or maybe a project  manager. I did a whole podcast all about hiring a project manager. I’ll put that in the show notes, a link to it, because it’s a good time getting into the New Year to think about your team and who you want to hire. 

But here’s the deal, why Lesson #2 is about building a team around your core skills. What I mean by that specifically is get really clear about what you’re good at and where you love to spend your time and where you specifically  make  the  biggest impact in your business. Someone probably a lot more advanced than me in business would say, “and then hire people to do everything else.” 

Now I’m not really there yet. I still have my hands in things I probably should hire out. I’m just not ready to expand the team that much. I’ve never really wanted a big team so I want to be really careful with each of my hiring decisions. However, getting back 

to your core skills and what you’re good at and what you love to do, and most importantly, where you make the biggest impact in your business. 

When you are very clear about that it helps you decide who you need to hire. And, let me give you an example. One thing I know that I’m really good at and that I love more than anything in my business and where I make the biggest impact is through my trainings and the content that I deliver, the webinars, my podcast, my paid programs, my free programs, the teaching, getting the content out there, the delivery of it, and just knowing what my audience needs. That is what I love the most out of everything I do. 

I didn’t do that as much this year because I had my hands in everything else. But, I noticed where I was getting stuck is finding the time to do the research, to prepare the content, to find the great ideas that my audience wants, to survey my audience and listen to them and find out what they need. Some of that was getting pushed to the side. 

So, what I decided to do and what I’ve actually just done is hire a full-time content development manager. Now, I’m at a time in my business that I can hire someone full time. The revenues this year has been amazing so I am going to put some of that back into the business. A year or two ago I might not have been in the place to hire someone full time. This is the first full-time position I’ve ever hired for. 

If you’ve followed me throughout the years you know Rebecca used to help me a lot with my content development. Rebecca, about mid year, decided to move on to do more of her own things and I couldn’t be happier for her. I love when people decide they want to focus more on their own business and they go with it. 

Once Rebecca decided she wanted to move on I knew that I needed to fill the role of a content development manager. But, here’s the deal, where I messed up with Rebecca and this is obviously a big confession podcast because I’m telling you all of my dirty little secrets. 

But, where I messed up with Rebecca is I had her hands in too many things. So, when Rebecca came on she actually was my assistant and then she moved into more content development because she is a writer and she loves to create and repurpose content and I saw the need there. 

But she still did some project management, assistant kind of stuff. So her hands were in everything. So content never got her full focus and that’s my fault. That’s how I designed the team and I needed to fix it. So once Rebecca moved on I knew that I was going to hire a content development manager that was going to be full time and that’s all she was going to do. 

I’ve enlisted Trivinia to make sure that that’s all this person does, meaning Trivinia has to kind of keep me honest about where I’m doling out new projects and tasks and all that to make sure that this new role stays really clean with what it was meant to do. 

Because this new role is going to help me with research and outline and surveying my audience and finding out where there might be holes or blind spots or things needed in terms of teaching and creating, I can then come to the table, get the support I need to do what I do best. 

That’s what I mean about building a team around your core skills. What do you do best and what’s holding you back from actually doing that? It might be that you’re just doing too much in your business, like you’re doing admin roles, you’re doing the bookkeeping, you’re doing all the actual editing of your videos or podcasts and all that good stuff. That means, you need more support in terms of a VA or project manager. 

For me, it was a little bit different. I needed some extra support of what I already wanted to do and what I was already loving to do I couldn’t do because I needed extra support around that topic or that theme of content development. So that’s what I’ve hired for. 

It’s just a little bit of a different way to look at things and I wanted to throw it out there because I talk a lot about outsourcing and hiring and this time I feel like I’ve done it really in a focused, smart way so I can be better, I can be better at what I love to do and what I think that you all want more from me and that is more training, more content, more free good valuable stuff that you can apply to your business and grow your business. 

You will definitely be seeing more of that. But I just kind of wanted to throw that out there as a new, different way to look at hiring in case you were thinking about expanding your team for the New Year. 

Lesson #3 

This is going to sound a little bit weird in the beginning but stay with me here because to me this is the most powerful lesson I learned in 2014 and it’s something that I think you really can get a lot of value from. 

You need to add some soul to your goal-setting experience. 

Yes, I said soul, a word I don’t use a lot in my podcasts but it’s important to actually use it here. What I mean is to put more meaning behind those goals that you’re setting. But I have a little story with this. So, financially speaking this year, 2014, was our best year ever. 

We more than doubled our revenue, I have officially built a million dollar business and then some and I couldn’t be more proud. But somewhere along the way this year I started to focus more on the opportunities and less on that margin that I had promised myself. 

I don’t know about you but I tend to learn lessons the hard way, meaning they affect me, they emotionally hurt me in one way or another and that’s when I stand up, pay attention, and say, okay, I’ve got you, I’m listening, I’m paying attention, I see where we have a problem here. 

So with me, it was I was saying “yes” to more opportunities and doing more of what worked but probably a little too much and because of that I started to actually feel that it was just overwhelming. So, yes, we had the best year ever financially. But we all know it’s not all about money. 

I believe in my gut that I can earn just as much by still applying more margin in my life. I need more breathing space and that was very, very apparent this year; and my team was aware of it. We’ve talked about it and I’m just really grateful that I learned from my experiences because this will never ever happen again. 

Here’s the deal, because I spent more hours working this year than I had actually planned I don’t want to repeat that. So I had to reexamine how all of this happened. In the past when I was setting goals I was thinking about all that I wanted  to accomplish, get done, achieve. All I thought about was what do I want to create and 

what do I want to generate in terms of revenue and impact. How do I want to deliver my message to my students. All of that is so very important but because I’m that achiever, go-getter personality it was all about these big, audacious goals. 

After I set these goals, in the past here’s what happened: I’d feel really excited about them, energized about these goals for a few days, and then these weird feelings of anxiousness and stress would creep in. 

I’m a worrier by nature so I’m very aware when that happens. It might just be me being a little bit more worrisome than I need to be and I didn’t really pay attention to those feelings much. So I pushed them aside, went on our way, and we were able to create some pretty amazing successes this year. But, that heavy stressful feeling never really went away. 

Whey did this happen? Here I created all of these goals that I wanted to create and I was so very excited about them but then I’d feel a little bit stressed or overwhelmed, I shouldn’t say a little, a lot when I would really look at them. Well, I did a bit of research and a little bit of soul searching (there’s that word again) a little soul searching and I realized that I often created goals with my head and not my heart. Now I know that sounds woo woo for you guys and girls that are thinking, “where are you going Amy, this isn’t your typical thing.” 

But, stay with me here because this is the important part. What I wasn’t doing is I wasn’t asking why I wanted to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish. So I put down these goals, these big financial goals and these big projects and programs and launches and all that good stuff. But I never, ever took a minute to ask myself, “why do you want these.” 

If I wanted to go surface I could say, “well, I want these because I want to create success. I want to create this really great successful business that supports my family, allows us to have freedom and do fun things.” 

All of that’s good but that’s really surface. I knew there was more to it and I just wasn’t asking the question. So, here’s the deal, what I know now is that when the “why” is missing goal setting can actually hurt your business massively. 

I was lucky enough to catch it early enough because I realized this was happening really a few months ago and I kind of redirected really quickly to get to the meaning or the “why” behind what I was doing. But, if I let this go any more it could hurt my business massively. How so? 

The way I see it, goals without the why are just empty promises. They are meaningless, in fact. They don’t mean anything. We’re not going to get excited when we actually meet the goals. And goals without the “why” can quickly deplete your energy, make you feel less than, create massive overwhelm, and really honestly can suck the creativity right out of you. 

It’s so very important that we put the “why” back into our goal setting. I’m passionate about this now because I saw what it could have done to me and my business and my family if I didn’t correct this quickly. 

This year I’ve changed things up dramatically. My goal setting looks a whole lot different. Now, I want to give credit to Danielle LaPorte because my first introduction to asking myself, “why do I want what I want” really came from Danielle. So I’ll link to a few articles that she’s done around this concept that just kind of blew my mind. So that’s where this whole thing started and then I just kind of ran with it how it made the most sense for me and who I am. 

With that I vowed to never again set a goal where there wasn’t that “why” or that meaning behind it. To put it another way, I just did a little bit of a gut check and realized that this had to change. So you might be wondering if you actually have the why behind your goals. I want to do this little quiz. It’s just a little quiz that I made up but I think that it really answers the question if you’ve gone about things in your business with true meaning of the why behind things. 

Here’s the first question…to back up, we all have great intentions. We all think that we want to go in there with goals that mean something to us but I think as busy entrepreneurs this step sometimes gets missed. So, here are some questions I want you to ask yourself. 

I’m going to say some statements and I want you to see if you can answer “yes” to any of these. Here’s the first one: You’ve worked really hard this year but still feel like you’re not where you want to be. So, you’ve got this feeling that “I’m just not there yet but I worked my tail off. I hustled to get there.” Or, maybe you feel like you are so close to 

achieving something that you’ve really wanted for you or your business but you feel you still have a big hill to climb, not a hill, a mountain ahead of you to get where you want to get but there’s still this weird feeling where you know, “I’m so close, but there’s so much work ahead of me.” 

At times it feels like the work you’re doing for your business is actually draining you of your energy and creativity. You love your work or you love what you do but it still seems to be zapping that energy out of you. Or, you tell yourself, “if I keep hustling, if I keep pushing forward I will get what I deserve. I just need to keep working harder.” 

So, if you’ve answered yes to any of these things, you’re not alone. In fact, the reason I knew which statements to say is because I’ve been there with all of these some time or another in my life. When you’ve answered yes to any of these it might be a time for you to start reflecting about the goals you’re setting and making sure that they actually are aligned with what’s most important to you. 

I just want to put that out there because if we’re not feeling good about what we’re creating and if we don’t feel accomplished in our business then why are we doing this anyway, right. So I wanted to kind of come back to this whole idea of goal setting. I’m a huge fan of setting goals but I think we need to do it a little bit of a different way. 

Here’s the thing, I want your new goals to move you forward and I want them to invite new opportunities for you and make you feel fully alive and excited about what you’re doing. And in my journey to get more meaningful, or soulful, about my goal setting I was introduced to Michael Hyatt’s goal-setting philosophy. Remember I said I would bring him up again in Lesson #3? 

Michael has this whole program about goal setting. To kick off his program about goal setting he has actually put together some free content around the concept of setting goals with meaning. So I thought this is a perfect time for me to encourage you to go check it out. I have watched all three videos that he has done and they are definitely aligned with this whole idea of creating goals with more meaning. 

So if you’re with me here, if you think this is something that you want to explore, you’ve got to check out his free training. So, right now, unfortunately if you’re listening to this way past the time I recorded it this won’t be live anymore. But, for a limited time, he’s got these videos out there. They are totally free, 100% aligned with what I’m talking about here. I want you to check them out. 

He spent a lot of time and effort creating these three free videos and it really shows in these videos. He really wanted to teach something of great value that was totally free and he knocked it out of the park. If you go to goals you can check out his free video series. It is definitely worth it. 

If you’ve been following my stuff you know I’m a huge fan of Michael Hyatt and I can honestly call him a friend. This year we’ve gotten to spend actually a lot of time together, more so than I thought was going to happen, and every time I’m around this guy I feel inspired, excited to do what I do, and he always gives me these little nuggets of strategy and systems that I just eat up. So that’s the kind of guy he is. He gives great, great value. Again, it’s at 

So there you have it. Just to recap, here are the three lessons I learned this year that you too can apply to your planning process as you get ready for the New Year. 

  1. Build margin into your year in advance. Don’t wait to find pockets of time that you can take off. Be intentional about it and protect that time off with your life. 
  2. Get strategic about your hiring plans and build a team around your skill sets. Find that one person or those people that will accentuate your skill set and talents and allow you to do more of what you do great. 
  3. Create goals with soul. Put some meaning back into your goals. Figure out the why before you commit to saying you’re going to do anything in the New Year. 

Danielle LaPorte was a huge, huge mentor of mine in this way of thinking and Michael Hyatt, his new video series, I think is awesome and fully aligned with this whole concept of “why” so those are two resources that you can check out for sure. 

Finally, all of the links and details that I talked about here can be found in my show notes at I’ll make sure to link to all of the good stuff I’ve talked about here so you can do a little research for your own goal setting, planning, and processes that you want to put in place. 

Until we talk again, good luck with all of your goal setting, planning, and processes and systems that you’re going to put in place. 

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