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Setting Expectations For You & Your Business

What is UP my friends and fellow busy bees and happy 2023! Are you sick of hearing people say that yet?

Since we do have a fresh start this year and can make the year anything we want it to be, I thought a good reset topic for today’s episode would be to talk about setting expectations for you and your business as you move forward this year (and beyond). And realistically, these reminders and recommendations are just as much for me as they are for you, because I think it’s important to always take the time to sit back, reflect, and be intentional as you move forward, whether it be in your personal life or in business– which is why you’ve also heard me talk so much recently on here and in the Friday Furniture Focus newsletter about goal setting.

I think it’s most important to check ourselves and our expectations because it’s an approach that we can use to keep ourselves accountable to ourselves, and ideally can check ourselves if we notice our thoughts or actions straying from those initial expectations throughout the year– whether that may be in terms of being lazy and not putting as much energy into the thing as we had set out to, OR if we are starting to feel some type of way because of the stories we’re making up in our head and are starting to get anxious and stressed.

The most important thing I want to say first off, though, is that we want to use these expectations to keep ourselves accountable, but I never think it’s a good idea to use them to shame ourselves. If we find we aren’t meeting the mark, don’t start letting those negative thoughts or imposter syndrome sneak through in your mind and start telling you that you aren’t good enough, you don’t have what it takes, you aren’t cut out for this, or you don’t know what you’re doing.

Like I said– I have the same tendency to have those exact same thoughts myself, and I know how shitty they can feel. Which is why I make a really intentional effort to stop them the minute I feel them creeping in, because ultimately what happens when you let that run its course? You start feeling down on yourself, you feel shitty about your work or lack thereof, you start feeling all “woe is me” and you certainly don’t feel motivated to push on and keep doing what you’re doing (which, by the way, if you needed the reminder, IS enough and is exactly what you’re meant to be doing, period). SO let’s nip that one right in the bud.

Okay, so kind of on the opposite side of that, I also don’t want you to be toooo lax with yourself when it comes to setting expectations. You know yourself best, so if you’re the kind of person that can justify taking a million breaks and getting distracted and off topic and finding excuses for reasons you don’t complete things that you set out to do… tread carefully. Being super easy going on yourself isn’t always the best type of self-care, even if it feels like it is in the moment. Why? Because if you aren’t progressing and accomplishing things and moving the needle forward, even in the smallest way, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. You’re not seeing the full potential of what you’re capable of under the guise of “not wanting to make it feel like work” or “not wanting to add any stress” or “it’s just a hobby so I’ll do it whenever I can fit it in”. You don’t need to go full David Goggins on yourself, but push yourself past that point of resistance a bit because that’s how we progress and improve, when we push ourselves past our comfort zones.

So when you are sitting down and spelling out what you are expecting for yourself this year (whether that means what goals you aim to achieve, what outputs you will produce on the regular, or how consistent you will work and what that will look like), aim to be realistic but also optimistic. Aim a little higher than you feel comfortable, because that’s where the real growth and progress will happen… even if it feels kind of scary or intimidating in the moment.

Believe me when I say, many of the opportunities that I have had in this business haven’t been inbound ones. It’s as a result of me going out there, trying to network, researching and looking for contact details, and pitching myself and my brand and applying for things. None of those things are things I would be doing otherwise, and they certainly don’t come inherently to me, but they have been where I have seen the most success and growth and those are the accomplishments I’m most proud of when I look back, so keep that in mind.

And when you’re setting these expectations for yourself and the year you’re about to have, I gotta bring it back to something that is going to sound like a broken record to you by now but it’s because time and time again, it’s the thing that I hear the most feedback that people are struggling with, from people who reach out to chat or comment on my posts or are my coaching clients. Any idea what it might be?

You can’t be playing that comparison game and comparing yourself to what you see others outputting. Just focus on what is realistics for you, your situation, your schedule, and your business. Besides– if you’re spending your time looking at others and assessing how much they’re getting done, it probably means that you’re wasting some of your own time that could better be used pursuing your own goals and creating the life you want for yourself. So put on those blinders and get to it!

If you find that it’s hard for you to achieve these outputs and goals that you’ve set, even though they seem realistic and attainable in theory but in practice you just don’t find yourself having enough time in a day to get everything accomplished… you might need to take a look at your systems (or lack thereof). Next to the endless loop of comparison, this is the second most common thing I hear from people in my community and clients: they either don’t have systems set up, or they don’t have the right ones set up, or they had the right ones for that time in their business when they set them up but they’ve now outgrown them and need something a little more intentional.

So look at your day-to-day, and if it’s easier to do you can write a list down of everything you do in your average day as you’re doing it, and then take a step back and look at what kind of things you could better organize, automate, or set up simple, streamlined systems for. There is no need for you to be doing repetitive, menial tasks in your day– you’re the god damn CEO, Operations Manager, Social Media Manager, Communications Director, Human Resources Specialist and Marketing Director.. To name a few of your many titles. You don’t have time (or probably the energy) for wasted time.

And I get it– it can be hard when you’re working day in and day out in and on your business to even be able to take a breath and analyze this kind of stuff. Stuff that will ultimately save you time, effort, money and sanity, but requires that upfront time and mental energy to set up. Sometimes you just need a helping hand, or someone to talk things through with and develop an action plan for success with steps that you can immediately implement to start seeing your time freeing up, and accountability that will help ensure that you complete what you had set out to do. That’s what I’m here for! I love this shit, I love systems and organization tools and weeding my way through chaos to create clarity, focus, intentionality and ultimately, success and happiness. So if you need a helping hand to do so, head to my website and check out the Consulting and Coaching offerings I have– I’ll also be sure to link them in the description of this episode for easy access.

Alright so assuming you’ve now got a pretty good idea of what you plan is for the year, we need to not forget about it or the excitement and motivation you’re feeling right now to hit the ground running and make this the best year yet. And the way we’ll make sure that we are keeping this plan top of mind is to revisit it often and check in with yourself to make sure you’re accomplishing what you set out to do. Don’t let this fall off because before you know it, it will be December 2023 and you will presumably want to have something to show for the 12 months you just worked hard. So if you’re someone that likes to maintain an agenda, then fill it out and check in often with it and keep it somewhere in plain view so you remember to do so. If you’re someone who likes things to be digitized or more in your face, then set up automated reminders. Project management softwares like Notion or Asana can be great for this, or you can even set up recurring appointments in your Google Calendar. Just make sure that you’re not having a super productive January 1st to 8th, and then basically hibernating and going back to your previous habits for the rest of the year.

The last thing I want to give a gentle reminder about when it comes to setting expectations for you and your business this year is to try to not overthink things and assume expectations of others that don’t actually exist. One way to avoid this ruminating in your head and trying to guess or assuming what a client or a partner or a brand or whoever it is that you’re working with might be thinking is to just be really openly communicative with them. This will ensure everyone is clear, on the same page and happy with the expectations and then that doesn’t leave any time or dead air for you and your mind to start wandering and playing mean tricks on us.

And something you may not know about me… I love little motivational messages. They literally always get me fired up, and I keep a running list of ones that are especially catchy or speak to me in the Notes app on my phone. So I’m going to end every podcast episode with one of those that I have noted down over the years, in hopes that you leave our time here each week feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to take on whatever comes your way that week.

So this week’s Mel’s motivational message is: You can’t hate yourself into a better version of yourself.

Alright, that’s it for now, I appreciate your time, and I’ll catch you guys next week!

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