I have spent the past few weeks looking forward and thinking hard about my personal and website agency goals for 2018.
As part of that process, I looked at my review of 2016 to remind myself of what my personal and website agency goals were for this year. This is hard to admit … but unfortunately, I am embarrassed to realize that most of the things I want to focus on for next year are the same as what I wanted for this past year. This means, in some cases, I did not make much progress on what I planned for 2017, and frankly forgot about commitments I made here a year ago.
For example, my first goal for 2017 was to Work on my self-confidence and inner “story.” Ugh! Self-esteem is such a struggle for me! I said I was going to use meditation to help me with this goal. Did I do this? Not really. Honestly, I forgot I had set this as a goal for myself this year. Perhaps this is because I have always measured myself against those around me and am never satisfied. This behavior is a challenge for me – more than I thought.
My second goal was to increase my coding/development skills. I said, “I am going to DEDICATE 4-5 hours a week to online learning. I am blocking off Fridays for this and am going to try to stick to it and hold myself accountable.” Uh oh. I didn’t stick to that either. I did learn some new skills and improved my CSS skills, and started learning SEO, keyword analysis. But I did not commit 4-5 hours a week to structured learning.
My third goal was Start a local Meetup and give back to the community. Woohoo! This one I did accomplish and the Meetup is now part of the DC WordPress chapter and has been well received. I also started a podcast, Hallway Chats, with Liam Dempsey, which has turned out to be a great learning experience, and an enjoyable way to give back to the community by helping people tell their story and talk about what success means to them. I have plans to roll out a Pro Bono event, hopefully in the first half of 2018.
The final goal was to Adopt a hobby that is not fitness or computer related. I didn’t start this either, but as of this posting, I have committed to piano lessons starting in January. For my mental health and physical well being, I would like to look for some friends to go to evening yoga one or two evenings a week to help me be accountable. I am also scheduled to run a ten-mile race and half marathon in April, so am going to be more purposeful in my running training and fitness over the coming months.
What happened in 2017 that stopped me from “achieving” most of the goals I set for myself this year? Here’s the truth. I forgot. I wrote that blog post and never looked at it again. I had some ideas and soft plans, but without a reminder, I was not accountable and just fell back into my old habits.
Now that I have reviewed what I did NOT do in 2017, here are some great things about the last year as I look back:
Hallway Chats and WordPress Meetups and WordCamps
2017 was a year of building and enriching my community. The Hallway Chats podcast was a “bonus” for the year and has taught me new things, but more importantly, has introduced me to many interesting, inspiring and smart people in the WordPress community. As someone who mainly works alone, collaborating with Liam has also been a great experience (both because he is a kind, talented and easy going person and because it is fun to work with someone else when I mainly work alone). I attended and spoke at WordCamp Miami and WordCampDC and volunteered at WordCampDC and WordCamp US. The local Meetup I started has been fun and rewarding to see people connect with each other.
I have loved using Slack more this year, and have made some good friends in the WordPress online/Slack community. I have also started interacting a little bit more on Slack with the WordPress Marketing Team. Speaking of Slack, I co-created the Business of WP Slack Group with Sara Dunn. Sara and I connected on Carrie Dils OfficeHours.fm Slack Group earlier this year, which focused on solutions for WordPress freelancers and solopreneurs. We loved the community that Carrie built there, and when Carrie moved her community to Facebook, we asked her if we could continue the concept with a new Slack Group. We have been welcoming new people to the group, and it is fun to see people making new connections, sharing ideas, and solving problems together.
I joined Leadership Arlington. While this is a “community” program, it also fits into my last goal for the year, as it is completely unrelated to my work and not directly computer related. This experience has introduced me to professionals in other fields from my local community and is refreshing my group dynamic skills (including attending many meetings – not my forte!). Most importantly, Leadership Arlington is opening my eyes to how my local government and services work, and how I can help people in need in my community. I have volunteered a few times this fall with a variety of organizations, visited the local fire station for a morning, and also rode with a police officer for an evening shift. These experiences have been informative and have inspired me to pay more attention to my local community and to give back more often.
In September, I sent my youngest child to college. This event is a major milestone in the life of a parent! I underestimated the emotional impact this would have on my outlook for “my future.” I am also turning 50 in a few weeks. As a result, I have done a lot of thinking about my life in general, as well as about running my own business, and what I enjoy and also find most challenging. Because of this introspection, I made the difficult decision to disengage from some extended family members whose lives I could not change, but whose issues had the potential to bring me down if I continued to be involved. While this is not work-related, it impacted my ability to focus on my business at times over the past year. These personal things also resulted in quite a bit of travel this year, which would not have been possible if I didn’t work for myself, so I feel fortunate to have been available to spend important time with my family.
I established some processes to make my business run more smoothly and set boundaries on the type of clients with whom I will work. I had some very successful website projects this year and set up development process that works well for me. While I still have a lot I want to learn when it comes to code, SEO and now Gutenberg, I am hoping that the emphasis I put on productivity and process will help me hold myself more accountable in 2018 and allow me to have more structure when I am not on a deadline.
I also implemented the “upgrade” to my client maintenance plans at the beginning of the year which was a big success. I am hoping the renewal process will go smoothly as well. Earlier this year I also researched and wrote about hosting plans and website speed.
Looking Ahead – Website Agency Goals for 2018
One of the guests on Hallway Chats, Bianca Welds, talked about having a “theme” for a year ahead. In that vein, I am making my theme for 2018 “Purposeful.” The definition of purposeful is “having or showing determination or resolve.”
In researching the meaning of “purposeful,” I came across this list of “5 Habits of Purposeful People,” and it fits with how I want to approach 2018:
- Living in the moment (not focusing on the past)
- Focusing on one thing at a time
- Getting things done (not putting things off)
- Being of service to others and
- Practicing to improve my skills
As part of my introspection process, I recently read the book “Designing Your Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. In considering my life at this point and doing some of the exercises in the book, I realized that what has been bothering me is the lack of variety in my life – the lack of breadth. Most things I do and enjoy are related to either client work or running my own business, or spending time with my family and friends. I also realized that where I am in my business is largely “by accident” instead of “on purpose.” I have been REACTING to work rather than finding work I want to do.
To help me analyze the direction and reviewing my goals, I recently met with a SCORE counselor to talk about the state of my business. (If your community offers this free service, I highly recommend checking it out! It is an invaluable resource and so helpful to have a sounding board.) I started the conversation expressing concern about how I run my business, and questioning its “success,” but after speaking with the counselor, we agreed that what I have is working, and has been working well and that it would be ok if I didn’t change anything! That doesn’t mean I am not going to try new things, but it puts another notch in my confidence belt and takes pressure off to make dramatic changes.
Goals and Processes for 2018
I am approaching 2018 with processes to help me work toward my agency goals and objectives for the year:
- Plot out goals/steps toward goals on a calendar, pin up on my wall and schedule email reminders to myself every month to ensure I don’t forget this time! (Thanks for the email idea, Sara Dunn!)
- Participate in a “Mastermind” group which will help hold me accountable to working toward my goals.
- Experiment with some cold-calling for projects in the niche I am exploring to help be more selective in projects I take on.
- Block off Fridays from work to have personal time and/or learning time, including piano lesson weekly.
- Plot out and schedule working on (not mastering) a new skill each month (for 2018: more SEO, CSS Grid, and Git Workflow)
- “Prototype” having an employee manage small tasks from on-going clients. Ask clients to start using support@ email address to alleviate the time spent on troubleshooting and minor edits.
- Schedule one volunteer project per month, either on a weekend or weekday.
- Plan and conduct a local “Website Weekend” pro bono event.
- Maintain a consistent physical exercise routine, with an increased focus on strength training and flexibility as part of training for upcoming race events.
This list seems perhaps overly ambitious. I am excited to see if my new accountability processes will help me at least be mindful of my goals, even if I don’t accomplish all of them. I intend to be purposeful about the choices I make and to be proactive instead of being reactive.
I would love to hear about your personal and website agency goals for 2018, and how the past year has gone for you!