For more than a decade, I’ve started the year in a similar way. Beat myself up about everything I failed to achieve in the previous year, mind mapping an exhausting list of all-the-things, and building a detailed project plan that becomes unwieldy by week three and soon is discarded, with lots of agonizing over why I can’t be a successful entrepreneur. Annnd rinse and repeat in December.
Fuck that. Not this year, Steve.
I am so tired of feeling badly about living in the gaps and not recognizing the gains.
I want to stop committing to doing things differently and making my health a priority, and then doing the opposite.
I want to remember that procrastination or writing blocks aren’t because I’m not ready or worthy, but because I haven’t found the right way in yet.
I want to start every day, week, and month balancing my goal-seeking energy with creative, intuitive, calm energy.
I want to feel like I am enough, every damn day.
So, if this sounds familiar and you’re in search of a different kind of year for yourself, or if you’re curious about what this means and what you’ll see differently from me this year (aka sharing for accountability), I’m writing down my vision for 2024. Incomplete thoughts and all.
After some soul searching, reflecting on 2023, and deep work I’ve been doing for weeks (as well as walks, daydreaming on the couch, and riding the sugar highs from holiday cookies), I landed on the following meaningful, very-different-for-me intentions for 2024:
- Sustainable GJV rhythms (GJV = generative, joy, velocity)
- Deepen my craft.
- Build my own Authority Engine.
- Systems for everything.
- Set one big mega “there’s absolutely no way” intention again and see what happens.
Here’s more on what they mean.
1) Sustainable GJV rhythms.
I started creating a plan for “building my marketing machine” until I realized that it’s exactly the 2023 energy and overly bro-y, hustle culture vibe I’m determined to avoid.
Instead, what would it look like to create sustainable rhythms in my life. Week-to-week routines that feel actually possible to achieve (what a concept!), ones that could be tuned up or down depending on what was happening in my life (treatment continues to loom in the back of my mind).
This time, I’m also making space for joy. Reminding myself that I need to make joy a priority in my work and life. Dinner out with my partner and kids. Cooking for the delight of it. Digging in my garden. Longer hikes. I’m here for all of it.
2) Deepen my craft.
I am always in learning mode. I want to be known as a deep expert, for the content marketing work I do as well as in the “improving the world of work” space I support.
This means focused reading lists AND taking time to integrate my takeaways. Working out loud to share what I’m learning and practicing. Participating in a small number of great courses and fully implementing the work, vs dancing around a wide range of topics that are only an inch deep. Writing and publishing a lot more.
3) Build my own Authority Engine.
I do this work for clients, but I need to carve out intentional time for the repeatable routines that will grow my business by being seen more widely as an expert.
This looks like defined marketing tasks aligned to gaps in my sales workflow. Batching content to schedule out to social channels (LinkedIn and Instagram specifically). Publishing articles that are SEO-tuned to my website. And—most difficult for me—working out loud as an agency owner and creator.
For the Engine to do its job building my business, I’ll also need to ensure I have clear offers, funnel stages and automations at every step including on-boarding.
4) Systems for everything.
Process, procedures, workflows, metrics. I’ve got ad-how things all over the place so this year, I’ve created a Shift Wisdom 2024 Table of Contents (TOC) list that links to all of my source docs. I’ll move it into Notion at some point but for now, it pulls me back to all the key planning and resource materials I’ll need to run my business. I’ll share it with my VA as well so she can easily access everything she needs as well.
(And yes, for those who noticed or felt the dissonance and weren’t sure why, I realize starting some intentions without a verb breaks the “parallel construction” from the rest of the list. Did it on purpose. Ha!)
Well, I haven’t figured out what the one mega intention should be just yet, but the whispers in my ear are telling me it might be getting the draft of my book done. I’m doing lots of writing across a range of topics between now and May, and then I’ll take some time to consider what my book will look like.
Making it happen. For realsies this time.
To set these intentions in stone (well, semi-permanent digital stone), I followed Jill Wise’s process for creating a digital vision board that is now the wallpaper on my Mac—I see it every time I restart my computer, in the morning and after breaks.
I love how my intentions are front and centre, but also my reminders for the kind of year I want to have. It feels like each of those authors quoted have become my personal hyper crew.
If this year is going to feel different—-no, be different—it’s the doing that will need to change, not just the planning and writing about it.
Here are a few commitments I’ve made to myself:
Practice my “trifecta” every day: free writing, walks/exercise, and great food.
This was a magic combination in 2023 but I wasn’t consistent enough about it. I’m using a habit tracker this year and trying to make it a 90% streak for the year. Walking outside as much as I can (plus some weights and Pilates) in a way that feels intentional and baked into my routine. Free writing every morning in my writing “sandbox,” some of which will get published. Great food doesn’t always mean healthy, but a combination of nutrition and delight.
Stop comparing myself to others or feeling behind or “less than.”
I am so much kinder to others than I am to myself. It’s exhausting. So this is the year of no longer feeling inadequate. I might do things at a different pace or order, and my chronic illness and cognitive challenges might frustrate me at times, but the right things will get done.
I am well resourced. I am enough. I’m playing my own game.
Focus on lots of small actions and stay “in motion.”
It’s the inertia that can kick in for weeks that has been incredibly frustrating. The paralysis of not knowing what I should do next or feeling overwhelmed by all the things “I should” be doing.
It happened again on Jan 2. I was overwhelmed by my to-do list and it was only the second day of the month! Instead of berating myself (which is so 2023), I realized that a big part of my problem was fatigue from the holidays. So I did the small things that needed tending to (catching up on emails mostly) and watched a movie (Age of Adaline, in case you needed a reco—it was excellent).
But I didn’t let this inertia stretch into days and weeks of paralysis. I started with making my vision board and a workflow image on Miro, and then started making “what’s next” lists.
In a nutshell (and to stay on trend with the cool kids), here’s my In/Out list for the year:
Whew! It’s a lot but I’m ready.
I’ve gone from feeling overwhelmed about the year ahead to being excited about what I’m going to create. Sleep has helped enormously with that turnaround but finding my way to writing prompts that gave me clarity and new insights was the shift in thinking I needed.
Key 2024 reflection questions include:
- What do you really, really, want? (Via Your Next Five Moves and Margaret Wheatley’s Who Do You Choose To Be?)
- What will make a difference this year? If you want 2024 to be dramatically different, what needs to change? How are you going to hold yourself accountable for actually doing it this time, so you aren’t in the same position by the end of this year (yet again)?
- How will the year play out, month to month? Write it down in detail, focusing on experiences, sounds, people, moods—-get really specific. (Via Jacq Fitsch’s 13 days experience, which was transformative. I’ve never doing visioning month to month like this and it created so much more specificity to the year).
Here’s to a fabulous 2024 for us both!