Summer has arrived and we are approximately half-way through the year. How is your creative business doing so far? Are you on track to meet your goals? Have you exceeded them? Are you a bit behind? Or do you need to reevaluate what you’re doing? Now is a great time to do a mid-year review.
Why you should review your year now
You already know the value of setting goals at the beginning of the year. There’s also a lot of value in checking in at least once during through the year to see if you’re still on track. I actually do this once per quarter or about every three months; in the spring, summer, and fall and then finish out the year with an in-depth annual review. For me personally, I need more frequent check-ins through the year to keep me on track. I know several creatives who checks in bi-monthly. You may not need or want to check in that frequently. But it’s a great idea to do it at least once during the year…and the best time to do it is at the half-way mark.
Why? There’s several reasons why this is a good idea:
1. You can check the progress of your goals– If you’re like a lot of creatives you started off with a list of things you wanted to accomplish this year. You may even have written up a detailed plan. But a list or a plan is only good if you review it every now and then to see if you’re on track. How far along are you on your list? How many of these goals have you reached? Which goals have you completed? Which goals are in progress? Are there some goals that seem to be roadblocked? One thing you don’t want is have October or November roll around and realize that you haven’t really accomplished what you set out to do this year. A mid-year review can give you the kick in the butt you need to get back in gear.
2. You can figure out what’s doing well and what needs work– One reason why many of us can’t hit our goals is that we plow ahead with our routine without pausing to see if what we’re doing is actually effective or not. A review allows us to look back and see if our past efforts are getting results. What are you trying to accomplish this year? Is it your goal to more sales? Getting into more galleries? Get more new customers? Is what you’re doing now actually moving you towards your goals? If not, why?
On the flip side, a review can also reveal what’s working for you as well. While it’s easy to zero in on what’s going wrong, there’s just as much that can be learned by figuring out what we’re doing well and seeing how we can apply that to other areas of our business.
3. You can adjust your plan and your goals– Just because you’ve made a plan at the beginning of the year, doesn’t mean that you have to be a slave to it. Things change. Situations change. Opportunities open up and disappear. And when they do, your plan has to be flexible enough to change as well.A mid-year review can give you the kick in the butt you need to get back in gear. Click To Tweet
4. You can celebrate your accomplishments– Probably one of the best reasons to check at mid-year is to see what you’ve accomplished so far and celebrate. Even if you feel that you’re far behind in your goals, you can always find some accomplishment that you’re proud of. And you should remember it and pat yourself on the back. Running a creative business is a long haul activity. There will be some days that you’ll be excited and motivated to get to work…some days may be a bit of a slog. Reviewing your mid-year wins is one way to help you buckle down and get motivated towards finishing up the next half with a bang.
Reviewing your year…so far
When you’re doing your review, set aside quiet time so you can really reflect and concentrate. One day per quarter I set aside a whole day to really focus and get my review done. That means my calendar is completely clear for the day; no meetings, no appointments, no work of any kind. You’ll want your time, energy, and mind clear when you’re doing your review.
I also do my reviews away from my studio/home office. Sometimes I’ll visit the closest Starbucks, get a beverage and a piece of lemon pound cake (because lemon pound cake is brain food 😃 ), and work on my review there. My other favorite off-site work location is the local library. A change of scenery helps me focus, plus I’m less tempted to stop doing my review so I can put in a load of laundry or to get inspired to work on that half finished project on my workbench. If that sounds like you, consider finding a nice place other than your usual work area to get your review done.
And while I write my reviews in Evernote, feel free to use a diary, a notebook, a white board, a legal pad, or even a big sheet of paper and crayons if you like. Do whatever works best for you.
There’s really no one way to do a review. The following is my method. You’re welcome to follow it as you like and adapt and change parts as you see fit.
1. Review your annual plan– I plan my goals for the year by creating an annual plan. For you, it might be a simple to-do list or a list of goals. Whatever you’ve used to plan your year, take a few minutes to reacquaint yourself with your goals at the start of your review.
2. Update/review metrics– I’m a bit of a measurement nerd. One of the things that’s part of my annual plan is a list of metrics that’s directly or indirectly related to my yearly goals; such as the number of sales I’ve made, the number of people on my email list, the number of visitors to my website/Etsy store, how many blog posts I’ve written, etc.
Since most of the metrics are tied to what I want to accomplish for the year, they can be a useful indicator of how well I’m progressing with my goals. If you haven’t been keeping track of your metrics you can skip this part.
3. Look over weekly reviews– Yeah…so I’m also a bit a of a review nerd too. Once a week I write a quick review of what happened the week before and list what needs to get done for the week ahead. The great thing about doing this is that it makes it easy for me to track what I’ve gotten done week by week, what my main roadblocks were, and what I’ve been doing to address them. Which makes it really easy for me to look back and get an overall picture of how things have been going and why.
In your case, you may want to look over your calendar to see what meetings, deadlines, and appointments you may have had. If you write in a diary or keep a blog, review that. What you’re trying to do is to jog your memory about what you’ve done so far so that you can complete the rest of your review.
4. Write down your accomplishments– Write down everything you’ve accomplished. While it’s easy to remember the big stuff…don’t forget to include the small stuff, no matter how tiny it may seem to you, write it down. Think about what you did to accomplish these things. Write that down as well.
5. Think about what needs to be improved– Now think about the stuff that hasn’t gone quite right or the goals that you haven’t gotten accomplished yet. Write them down. Think about what may have lead to that result or lack of a result. Write down what you think and any ideas you have to improve next time.
6. List lessons learned– What have you learned so far this year? Is there a tip or a trick or a new method you’ve discovered that’s really help you out? Is there a new app that’s really changed your life? Have you read a book or an article online or found a quote that’s really inspired you? Have you encountered a situation or had a conversation with someone that’s changed your outlook? You guessed it…write it down.It’s easy to zero in on what’s wrong. There's much that can be learned by figuring out what we’re doing well Click To Tweet
7. List goals for the rest of the year– What are your goals for the rest of the year? Look over your plan again. Cross off the stuff that you’ve completed…just the act of crossing stuff off your list can be deeply satisfying. Then go through the rest of the list and adjust, subtract and add goals and tasks where necessary.
8. Schedule time for your next review– Keep your progress going by making regular reviews part of your planning routine. The next review date could be six months from now at the end of the year or you could opt to do them quarterly. The frequency is up to you. Just commit yourself to your next review by scheduling the next date on the calendar now.
9. Congratulations…you’re done!– Celebrate by getting another piece of lemon pound cake <- This is optional but highly recommended
Lisa Jacobs also has a list of five good mid-review questions that you can use in her blog post. I’m thinking about incorporating some of these questions into my review process as well. You can check them out here.
What if you don’t have an annual plan?
A lot of the process is based off having a list of goals or a plan for the year. What if you don’t have that? Well, the mid-year review process will work just fine without it. But if you’re really wanting to have an annual plan for your creative business, there’s nothing stopping you from developing one now, is there? There’s no need to wait until the end of the year, write one now and start working it.
Taking some time out of the year to look back on what you’ve done so far, and to plan for the rest of the year ahead can help keep your goals on track. Have you done a mid-year review for you creative business? Share your review method and your goals for the rest of the year in the comments below!
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