We’re going to tackle this whole Brand Plan thing a little bit differently in 2016.
Because anaesthesia-by-donut with a side order of guilty-self-flagellation aren’t going to cut it for me this year.
I had HUGE plans for 2015. To be honest? I have huge plans for every year that is about to happen. It’s easy when I’m comfortably sitting in December-land, where all I have to do is make broad proclamations about what I’m “going to do”.
As soon as I start wading through the real world of that actual year, my giant plans start to unravel, & I think I know why.
It’s because I get way too detailed & intense about my December planning. I do that thing where I just list all of the goals I’d like to reach…& then I cram them into the year in a seemingly logical way.
Like they’re little Tetris planner blocks & all I have to do is fit them into a space on a worksheet, & they’ll magically happen, as a result.
And the real world is messy. It’s unpredictable & exciting & boring & difficult, & it doesn’t exist to make our plans easy to execute. We show up some days with all of the energy & fire we need to conquer everything on our ToDo list…& other days, we can’t even show up at all.
Or we do show up, but we’re still in our Star Wars jammies & can barely respond to an email from our own mum, let alone complete the list of tasks our super-charged former selves laid out for us.
I have no idea which days will be which next year, kitten, & neither do you.
I might end up with a sick kid (or 2) for a month straight. I might end up sick for that month too (this is a very real thing in my world right now…pass the Kleenex wouldja?), & if that happens, my very orderly & detailed ToDo list is totally useless, because honestly? I am totally useless.
Seriously. The Kleenex?
So the key to dealing with those inevitable ups & downs of productivity, while still conquering major goals & moving forward like we want to?
It’s all about simplicity, flexibility & attacking things one bite at a time. It’s about having an outline that will guide us, but not hold us hostage.
I do a great big Brand Plan Outline every December to help me frame out my plans for the coming year. It offers the hope of a brand new year, full of excitement, potential & the I-haven’t-screwed-it-up-yet vibe we all love so much about planning the future, but it also lets me create a strategic framework I can fill up with the appropriate projects & tasks as the year actually happens.
I broke up my overall Brand Planning into 5 steps this year.
I’m pretty pumped to share them with you, but remember to let it be simple, & do it one bite at a time to avoid being overwhelmed by the whole thing.
Plan to do this over the course of a week or so, allowing for daydreaming time, free-writing & journalling time & even some research time.
Bite 1 ~ Figure out/revisit your Great Big Why. This is the real reason you are doing the thing you do instead of any of the 75 million other things you could be doing.
It’s not about paying the bills or saving for retirement; it’s about the impact you feel compelled to make in the world, & don’t tell me that you don’t make an impact because you, “only draw cartoons,” or, “just make pretty things,” or some other excuse. You do.
At least you should! If you’re not impacting your readers, you are not doing your job. If your customers aren’t impacted (joy & satisfaction are impact, btw), you need to re-evaluate whether this is a business you are running, or a hobby you want people to subsidize.
Remember that every thing you do in your business should be supporting your Great Big Why in some way, or it’s going to drain you & make you resent it.
Bite 2 ~ Focus on a Legacy you want to leave the world. This is the dream that gives you the chills & thrills & excitement-motivation, & it’s the pinnacle of how you want to live that Great Big Why.
Your legacy is what you want to leave behind in the world. It could be a company you leave to your kids, or it could be a sense of community for those who love something that is important to you too.
Mine is big & impossible & crazy & perfect & inevitable & totally exciting for me to dream about.
Bite 3 ~ Brainstorm the steps you need to take to get to that goal.
Write down everything. Remember that brainstorming means you aren’t allowed to judge the things that come to mind; you just have to let your mind range & write down everything. Some of the craziest ideas here may lead you to gold later.
I brainstormed all of the things I need to accomplish, gather & learn in order to make my own goal a reality, & then I started to build the most logical path I could take in order to get there.
I realized that it’s POSSIBLE! It’s huge, but I can get there, one step at a time.
I made a wild guess at how long each step might take in a perfect world, & it ended up being 12-15 years. That’s a long time, but it’s possible! And I know what I need to do now.
I am also SUPER flexible about my expectations for each of those coming years, because I can’t be sure of what leaps & bounds might happen in one year, or what madness might pop up in my life in another year, but I do need to know what the steps will be in general, so I can steer my ship in the right direction.
Bite 4 ~ Choose a measurable first step toward that longterm goal that you will undertake this year, & make it SMART.
I wrote about SMART goals here, last year. Check it out & grab the printable there too, to make sure that your goal for this year is SMART (Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Time-bound).
This is my overall goal for the entire year, so it’s pretty important. I don’t just stab at my brainstorm page & grab one; I really decide on the appropriate first goal I need to reach in order to best support my longterm plans & my day-to-day happiness.
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Bite 5 ~ Brainstorm Outcomes you need to see in order to make your 2016 SMART Goal inevitable.
After I brainstorm for a while, I like to choose 4 outcomes that I will focus on (1 per quarter). I spend some time thinking about what my year will look like, how my creative energy ebbs & flows, & how my industry behaves over the course of the year.
Then I give each quarter of the year an outcome that will lead to the overall goal for the year & brainstorm some of the things I’ll do to get there. Keep it simple & flexible; this is just about committing to the outcome for each quarter & writing down some potential ways you could meet those goals.
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My Brand Plan Outline for 2016 looks like this:
- Rebrand & build current programs in the Academy:
* Website design & copy
* Blog Your Voice upgrades & awesomeness
* Design Your Process course built & offered
- List building & overall presence
* Podcast with a partner?
* Guest interview on other podcasts
* Guest posts
* Speaking engagements
- New Product (Course) creation & launch
* Web Copy course – one page at a time
* Companion book(s)
* Funnel & Launch
- Passion Project & Creative refuelling
* Instead-of-Nano mastermind
* Research & apply to Ryerson program
* Work on short story for competitions
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Ahhh!!!! I did the thing!
Then I walked away. I gave my plan time to breathe & I went back to do some light tweaking. I think I’m pretty solid on the 4 outcomes at this point, but I will reevaluate each quarter, to make sure that they are all still realistic & doable.
And I will dive into each outcome on its own too, but not today, kitten. Today, I’m going to celebrate this accomplishment with some chips & dip & a few hours of Netflix with the girls (& the Kleenex).
Because if I try to eat an elephant all in one bite, I’ll probably choke & die, so I’m going to let this sit & come back next week to continue the #BrandPlan2016 series with my editorial calendar (now that I have a framework for my year, it should be a piece of cake).
Comment below & tell me what your legacy could be, & feel free to ask any questions you may have about the process. I want you to feel this feeling of I-know-what’s-coming-&-it’s-all-good, because it’s pretty awesome.
If you want a hand, running through this planning process, I still have a few spots available after the holidays for one-on-one coaching & I could take you through this whole process in one VIP Day to get your outline set up & ready to go for next year.