5 Vital Takeaways from 5 Years in Business

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So 2017 was a pretty big year for me. It marked my fifth anniversary of moving to Alabama, my fifth year in business (off and on) and my fifth wedding anniversary.

When my brain is mired down with something, I know those stressors are huge for anyone, especially with chronic anxiety and depression. I’m not surprised at how much I’ve changed or when I dropped the ball.

I wish I could sit here and say that with 2018 around the corner, I’ve smoothed everything out in my life and am ready to start the new year fresh and with renewed resolve.  

Maybe in some parts of my life, I can say that, but really I still have a long way to go. With all of the changes over the past five years  – wins and losses…steps forward and backward, here are the things that have kept me going besides the usual – family and friends – who are really the cornerstone of this whole thing.

Lesson 1: Taking Baby Steps, aka Micro Goals

Microgoals are simply making small steps toward achieving a goal and rewarding yourself and celebrating these wins as though they’re massive.

I made baby steps to doing better about self care, self forgiveness and accountability. If I achieved one thing or a few minutes of something important, I considered it an accomplishment.

Lesson 2: Using the Pomodoro Method 

I’m probably not the only person to say that John Lee Dumas is like the coach/cheerleader you always have in the back of your mind whenever things get tough. I got things done, even on my worst days, thanks to his Mastery Journal, which utilizes the Pomodoro Method to complete tasks. I have a morning routine that sometimes has to get pushed to the afternoon if I over sleep. (Hey, baby steps, remember?)

I made progress towards creating a podcast and getting client work done on time using self-imposed deadlines. I nibbled away at projects I would normally drag my feet on.

Lesson 3: Minimize and Simplify

This kind of goes hand in hand with baby steps. If you haven’t read about decision fatigue, I encourage you to take a few minutes (after reading, commenting and sharing this post!) to look it up. It’s one of the reasons why folks like Steve Jobs didn’t seem to have much fashion sense.

The less options you have, the less energy you lose. Instead of fretting for 30 minutes on what to wear, Jobs  had the same basic “uniform.” He was able to get ready faster and save his epic brainpower for something else.

Having too many choices can be mind numbing.  At the start of 2017, I joined at least six different political or social activism organizations. I knew that couldn’t last, so I had to narrow that down based on my schedule, the work involved and the people I worked with. So even when I had personality clashes in some groups, I didn’t stress out. I took it as a sign that it was time to lessen my involvement in that group.

Instead of finding new coaches or mentors, I doubled down on the ones I’ve already been working with. I already understand their methods, and I know I haven’t utilized all of their resources. I retraced my steps using the same process to get help from a coach I already knew and trusted.

Lesson 4: Have Others Push You Into Action

Having one accountability partner was definitely life changing. I was able to gain a new client and (most importantly) her friendship, which still means a great deal to me.

But what if you had dozens or even hundreds of accountability partners all at once? For me, that’s been the Unf*ckwithable Girlfriends group with Ash Ambirge and the Freelance Writer’s Den with Carol Tice. (Yay, those are affiliate links, even though I used to hate them.)

So, yes, making a monetary investment (even a small one like the 30 bucks or so a month invested in these groups) is a motivator. Participating in paid groups forced me to be more active, ask a lot of questions and be helpful to others.

There are tons of free groups out there that offer this. Pretty much every major consultant  or coach has one on Facebook. If you’re flat broke, definitely start there. Don’t be afraid to share goals, ask others to check in on you or be your accountability partners. But there’s something about a place where you’re placing your hard earned cash that makes a huge difference.

Lesson 5: Take Stock Of Successes and Failures

This has been a real eyeopener for me. Of course, as someone with anxiety, it’s extremely easy to break down my failures into tiny minutia of individual steps.

Remember that “winning” can be small – like a thank you note or a positive comment.

Start with an Excel spreadsheet with the date and a place to make comments. Go back through your calendar and note the important events and appointments.

Then you can check out your e-mail. I start with my sent email, because there are times often people don’t respond. It’s a great way to catch up and see what your efforts were over the past year. An example is looking at how many pitches or queries you’ve sent.

This year has had some “micro wins” and some major wins, and it’s important to use this energy towards other projects.

What are some lessons you’ve learned in business? I’d love to hear what has changed for you whether you’ve been doing this for 10 years or 10 months. Leave me a comment below and don’t forget to share!


4 thoughts on “5 Vital Takeaways from 5 Years in Business

  1. Love it, Willie! 2017 has been quite the year, indeed! I totally agree that small victories (especially relating to being nicer to ourselves) are super important!

    Here’s to an awesome 2018 – one where we become our own best friends instead of harshest critics!

  2. Love Carol Tice’s Den and John Lee Dumas’ podcast! And baby steps are definitely the secret sauce (one of them anyway). It’s so easy to wait until this or that is done/better/perfect, and then take a big step “one day”, but a baby step helps you move forward *now* regardless – and those steps do accumulate.

    Congratulations on five years in business! Hope you’re giving yourself a ton of credit. Grateful to know you!

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