Thanksgiving break.

Winter break.

Spring break.

Summer vacation.

That is how I used to think about time.

As a student, as a guidance counselor, and as a parent. It’s how I organized my life.

Then I became a Life Coach, which I thought meant I was going to be spending all of my time helping people get unstuck, manage transitions, and overcome obstacles that stood in the way of their happiness.

What I didn’t realize was that I was actually going to be running a business.

And to run a successful business meant that I had to:

LEARN about branding, selling, marketing, building mailing lists, and effective digital communication.

CREATE a website, business cards, packages, programs, workshops, intake forms, and client agreements.

WRITE business policies, newsletters, blogs, and Facebook posts.

And apparently people who run businesses look at their time in terms of quarters, not school breaks!  Hmmm…who knew?

It took me several years to actually embrace this concept, but in December of 2016, when one of my mentors, Susan Hyatt, sent me a “2017 Quarterly Planning” worksheet, I decided it was time to try and start thinking and planning like a business owner.

By the way -- totally not my strength. Empathy, deep listening, offering perspective, helping people get clarity about what they really want, YES! Financial goal setting, selling, marketing, creating products…not so much.

So once again I learned the same lesson that I just keep learning over and over again - NOTHING happens inside of your comfort zone.

Time to be uncomfortable.

Time to try something new.

Time to risk failure...again.

The truth is though, I am always up for a good challenge -  so bring it on!

I filled out the Quarterly Planning sheet and placed it in a prominent place so I could see it everyday.

I won’t go into all of the details of the worksheet, but some of the directives were to:

  • Pick a quarterly phrase: Not Throwing Away My Shot
  • Choose a quarterly theme song: Rise Up (Okay, I was slightly obsessed with Hamilton at the time)
  • “Play to your edge” and do 3 things that are a stretch for you:
    • Create and launch my own Signature Coaching Program to help people who feel stuck
    • Learn advanced coaching skills so I can better serve my clients
    • Understand basic business principles in marketing, selling, and technology
  • Be specific, set 3 quarterly goals
    • Get six new clients
    • Double my income from first quarter of 2016
    • Invest in myself by working with a Master Mentor Coach 
  • How do you want to feel when you accomplish these goals? Proud, confident, and happy because I am doing a job that I love and that I am good at.

So, here we are at the end of the first quarter. How did I do? I am happy to report that not only did I meet each of my goals, but I exceeded many of them! Well what do you know?

Once again, getting out of my comfort zone propelled me to a much better place!

Having quarterly goals kept me on track, raised my awareness of where I was and what I was accomplishing, and motivated me on a daily basis.

I also learned a really valuable lesson.

While my initial goal was to get six new clients, I soon recognized that this goal did not feel right to me. It felt like a lot of negative pressure. It was giving me a feeling of stress, not one of motivation or inspiration.

Same thing with the “double my income” goal.

So right in the middle of the quarter, I changed both of those goals to:

Get more clients.  

Make more money.

Jackie Gartman, the Master Coach I hired to mentor me, suggested that a better goal for me would be to make progress. Period. Let that be enough. Set goals that feel positive and challenging, but certainly attainable.

Now, I am imagining a lot of business people are thinking NO! Your goals have to be specific. You must have numbers for your goals.

All I can say is I don’t believe in “have to’s”  and ”musts”. I stand firm with Jackie in that it is all about progress and feeling happy and inspired by your goals, not pressured by them.

And now that I've accomplished these goals, do I feel proud, confident and happy?

I do. However, there were certainly plenty of days during the quarter when I felt totally frustrated, overwhelmed and a little bit hopeless. I just kept going anyway.  And in the end, it paid off. I reached my goals and I am really happy about that!

So what about you?

Have you ever thought about setting quarterly goals? You don’t have to be running a business to do this. Start small. Pick one to three things that you would like to achieve in the next three months. Make your goals realistic and attainable. But most importantly, choose goals that will make you feel proud, confident or happy once you achieve them.

And remember, it is totally okay to change your goals along the way if they no longer feel right to you. This is a tool to help serve you, to help you achieve what you want. They are not there to deplete you or to make you feel bad.

While my perspective on things may differ from that of a pure business consultant, I do believe that it is all about progress and feeling inspired by your goals, not bullied by them. But then again, I am a Life Coach first. Business woman second.