For an entrepreneur, the festive season sparks a particular mindset. It isn’t presents or carolling or turkey, but the forthcoming end of one year, and the bright beginnings of anew. A few weeks ago, I considered 2014 and what I’d achieved, and what 2015 could offer in its place. I do this every year. I’m sure you do, too, because planning is an important part of entrepreneurial living.
Plus, a new year excites the heck out of me, because where 2014 left me wanting, I can right all these wrongs over the next twelve months. This is the mindset I take each year, and as soon as December comes, I slump in my seat and sulk, frustrated about where I fell short and didn’t succeed. Pushing these negative feelings to one side, I long for the new year, and its hopes and possibilities.
As such, I create the standard aims and objectives we’re all supposed to set. They resemble:
I’ll sell 2,000 copies of TICK to the TOCK by November 2015.
They’re S.M.A.R.T. and rational, yet at the same time, mean nothing. Seriously, what does selling 2,000 books achieve? Will this motivate me each day to strive forward? Maybe it does for some people, but it doesn’t seem to work for me. Each December I sink under a heavy longing of what might be.
I don’t fall short of every aim and objective, but I’ve never ticked them all off the list. Do you feel this pain, too? Is this part of your December? Do you too long for the new year, because maybe this is the year you’ll do it… win it… make it happen… ?
This is my pain, and it’s why two email from two people I admire gave me hope a few weeks ago. Discussing goals and objectives and 2015, they thrust the standard way of doing things to one side, and encouraged me to take a more meaningful approach.
[Tweet “Do you too long for the new year, because maybe this is the year you’ll do it… win it… make it happen… ?”]
Chris Brogan talked about his four main circles (YOU (your health and what not), Those You Love, Your Monchu (those you mentor and help) & Your Clients/Customers/People You Serve) and how he sets one goal for each. But it starts with YOU and your health, and those you love the most – not your brand or products or customers.
Amy Porterfield talked about how she loves to plan, but has grown frustrated with her goal setting. She said something that really stood out to me:
“Goals without the why are empty promises. Dare I say it…even meaningless. They can quickly deplete your energy, make you feel less-than, create massive overwhelm and suck the creativity right out of you.
Who the heck wants goals like that?”
I love this. If the goals you set don’t have meaning, what’s their point? How can we expect them to motivate us for an entire year?!?
I think this is the approach I’ve taken these last few years, and I want to ensure 2015 is the year I start something different and a great deal more meaningful. These two emails, along with a few other thoughts that have rumbled around my mind in recent months, clicked things into place.
But before I could set my 2015 Goals, I had an uber important task to tackle…
MY DEFINITION OF SUCCESS IS…
Having worked on The Successful Mistake for the last two years, and having interviewed 150+ inspiring and incredible entrepreneurs, and having learned so much about so many aspects of life, I’ve come to realise how important it is to understand, define, and strive towards YOUR version of success.
It’s come up in my interviews a great deal, and a considerable difference between successful people and those not quite there, seems to be they understand what success means to them. As a person. Not what society wants us to achieve. Or what we thought we wanted as a kid. Or what’s cool and the done thing to do.
It’s about YOU and YOUR version of success.
What an ideal time for me to sit down and write my own definition of success, right? After all, if I’m to tackle 2015 different to all the other years, I should set an all encompassing foundation to work towards, yes?
After much musing and starring off into the distance, this is what I came up with:
[su_box title=”MY DEFINITION OF SUCCESS IS…” style=”soft” box_color=”#d1d1d1″ title_color=”#000000″]My definition of success is to have financial freedom, or should I say, be free from money’s burden. You see, I find money, at best, an annoyance, and at worst, evil and corrupt.
I didn’t always think this way, but since becoming a self-made man, I realise how irrelevant money can be, and how life-changing other elements can.
When I say I desire financial freedom, I mean not to think about money, period. This requires a mindset, not a bank account. Too little cash and I yearn for it, worry about it, and wish I had more of it just to ‘get by’. Whereas too much leads to seduction, desire, and an infinite chasing-of-shadows.
To not think about it means to focus on great art, meaningful relationships, and writing… working… and crafting projects that matter. I don’t wish to exist, rather to live and find a greater happiness. I don’t think I’ll find this through money or stuff, and I don’t think I’ll ever escape its seduction until I become free from it all together.
To be financially free is to focus on providing worth and legacy. I’ll never need a lot, just enough. This amount may vary over time, but so long as I’m living a life of purpose and meaning, the actual numbers remain irrelevant. So long as I have enough, all is well. And if I have more than enough, this is fine, too, since I’ll be free from its manipulation, and as such, give more to those who need it, deliver more projects that help more people in a more helpful manner, and bit-by-bit grow stronger and ever more free from society’s monetary stronghold.
I suppose it comes down to having and sharing a deeper message. Until I free myself from the shackles, I don’t think I’ll ever understand it. But it’s a mindset, not a number. It isn’t about pounds or pence, but filling my life with wonderful relationships, meaningful projects, and damn-good art.
This is my definition of success, and I believe it’ll help me live, rather than exist. Of course, such a definition is never black and white, so here’s to 2015 and its colourful adventure of discovery, refinement, and understanding.[/su_box]
This isn’t a black and white definition, as I’m sure it’ll change and evolve over the years. This also isn’t about 2015, rather an overarching mission I can spend the rest of my life trying to piece together.
It isn’t about money or books or fame. It isn’t about financial freedom in the usual sense, but one that allows me to focus on more important facets of life. And would you like to know something? Writing these 300-and-some-odd words helped me develop my meaningful goals for 2015.
Instead of focussing on the aspects we’re told to focus on (like money and sales and reach), I began with meaning and the parts of life that kick me up the butt and make me feel each and every day. It’s not that I set out to adhere to society’s version of success, but after interviewing 150+ awesome folk for The Successful Mistake, I realise I have.
I no longer want to, and from here-on-in, I refuse to. Defining success has brought meaning into world, and as such, meaning to my goals
[Tweet “”Defining success has brought meaning into world, and as such, meaning to my goals””]
MY MEANINGFUL GOALS FOR 2015
I’m not saying your goals shouldn’t be S.M.A.R.T. or focus around sales or help you grow your business. Goals are designed to help YOU wake up each day and strive towards a common destination, so they can take numerous forms. But this is why I think defining what success means to you is important, because until you do, it’s difficult to craft goals with soul.
I think this is what Amy means when she say, “Goals without the why are empty promises.“
On the outside, they make sense. Selling 2,000 books equals money and prestige. They mean growth. They achieve what goals need to achieve. Yet, they don’t. Because selling 2,000 books, on its own merit, means little. It’s a means to an end, but what is the end?
The end is the why. The end is the meaning and soul your goal possess, and it’s this that’s inspired my 3 Meaningful Goals for 2015:
2015 GOAL 1 = In November 2015, go abroad with Kid Turndog for the first time, and weigh 11 stone the day of our flight
This is my first goal for a reason, because it involves ME and my health, and the most important person in my world: Kid Turndog.
At the moment of writing this, Kid Turndog approaches his second birthday, and like all fathers, I want to give him the world. I’ve not not been on holiday with him yet, and I want to change this in 2015. We may go away with Grandma and Grandpa in the summer of 2015, but in November I want to fly away with him… just the two of us.
We don’t only get to travel and see a new part of the world, but bond as father and son. This is what it’s all about, right?
[Tweet “We don’t only get to travel and see a new part of the world, but bond as father and son. This is what it’s all about, right?”]
As for weighing 11 stone, this number isn’t plucked from thin air. In my November Monthly Income Report, I mentioned how I finally reached my optimum weight of 11 stone (154 pounds). I want to remain this way forever, but it isn’t about a diet, oh no. I don’t want to go on another diet in my entire life. Instead, I desire a lifestyle that suits ME. One that keeps me light and free and happy. One that helps me feel good in the morning, and full of energy at night.
I need to discover this, and that journey begins now. I’ve reached the weight I want to reach, and now’s the time to maintain this for the next sixty years.
BUT there’s more to this goal than meets the eye. It has great meaning and a big gigantic soul, but to achieve this I must first achieve many other things. For instance, Taking Kid Turndog on holiday costs money, and I wouldn’t feel right divulging in a luxury like this until I tick a few other commitments off the list. Things like:
- Relying less on my parents
- Clearing some debt
- Outsourcing work so I have more time for me, my health, and The Kid
You see, it isn’t as simple as taking Kid Turndog on holiday and enjoying a wonderful few days with him. That happens in November, but in order to get to this point, I must make money and grow my business and start fulfilling my potential.
I’m not too caught up on the numbers, but I estimate I’ll need to make at least £20,000 between now and November. That’s roughly £1,500 each month. Considering the products and services I offer, that may look something like this:
- 2 Talks = £300 – £500
- 1 Client = £500 – £1,500
- 50 Books = £150 – £250
- 2 Coaching Clients = £150 – £250
- Misc Revenue = £20 – £50
This creates between £1,120 – £3,050 each month, so an average of £1,500 each month is certainly attainable. In terms of numbers for the entire year, it looks like:
- 10 Clients
- 1,000 Books
- 20 Coaching Clients
- 20 Paid Talks/Workshops
Is this easy to achieve? Hell no! Can I achieve this? Absolutely. These aren’t crazy numbers by any means, BUT none of these numbers are part of the goal. The goal is to go on holiday with my son in November, and weigh 11 stone on the day we leave. This is what drives me. This is my motivation each day. I just know to achieve this, I need to make at least £1,500 each month. Which equates to 1 client, a couple of talks and coaching calls, and 50 books.
Of course, I could strive to sell 2,000 books, but what the hell does this mean?
2015 GOAL 2 = Buy and Share a coffee with 25 people who appear in The Successful Mistake (and take an embarrassing selfie)
For the past two years, I’ve connected with over 150 mind-blowing minds. I’ve Skyped them and chatted to them and began relationships with them. But I’ve met few of them face-to-face, and although I value Skype and email, it doesn’t quite add up to sharing a coffee on a chilly afternoon.
I want to make 2015 the year I take these relationships to the next level. I want to meet these people I know, and nurture a friendship. I don’t wish to be email pals or Skype buddies, but real life amigos. I want to truly learn from them and share ideas and fears and hopes of tomorrow. This requires coffee and drinks and meals with one another.
25 out 150+ is certainly doable, but considering most of these folk are dotted around the globe, I doubt many will come to Halifax any time soon. So again, this goal has more depth than you may first assume.
This goal’s meaning surrounds relationships, an aspect of life I hold dear. Behind my health and my loved ones, relationships are king of the castle. The potential they house are infinite, and a meaningful goal like this, where I get to share a coffee with Nat Sisson, Colin Wright, John Corcoran, Mitch Joel, or Nicole Welch, pushes and prods me to wake up and get shit done.
[Tweet “”This goal’s meaning surrounds relationshiops, an aspect of life I hold dear.””]
But like I say, they aren’t coming to Halifax. To achieve this goal, I must travel. I must spread my wings and make it to conferences like The World Domination Summit, SXSW, and Misfit Con. Travel means a lot to me, and I’ve let this slip through my fingers over the last few years. I truly want to go to places like Austin, Fargo, and Portland, and to surround myself with like-minded folk.
But what does attending The World Domination Summit mean on its own? Nothing! It’s a conference at the end of the day, and there are loads of them in England. Sharing a coffee with those I know, on the other hand… this has meaning, and a rendezvous to Portland helps make this happen.
I cannot click my fingers and go to these events, though. They cost money. They require time from my schedule. I don’t only need cash to make the trip and book a hotel and buy the ticket, but organise my world so I can leave Halifax for four or five days and not have everything unravel at the seams.
If I need £1,500 each month to achieve Goal 1, I need closer to £2,500 to achieve this one. I must also outsource work to VAs and take my business to the next level. I must escape the mentality of doing everything myself, and free up my time for more important tasks.
But again, my goal isn’t about £2,500, or SXSW, or even travel. It’s about nurturing a bunch of relationships with people I know. This has meaning, and provides me the kick I need each morning. Because over the next twelve months, I want to buy folk like Srini Rao, Marianne Cantwell, Pam Slim, and James Clear a coffee.
2015 GOAL 3 = Reach 100,000 people through my stories and words.
In many ways, this is the least important goal of the three, because it doesn’t revolve around my health, my son, or relationships. In other ways, it’s the lynchpin to everything, because if I want to achieve Goals one and two, I must spread my wings and share what I do with more people.
Again, this isn’t about money or books or sales, but reaching people with my stories and words. When it comes to my work, everything revolves around my storytelling. I want people to experience this. I want to share them as far and wide, because when I do, I’ll improve and learn and grow.
Selling 100,000 books would be a mammoth task, but when I include Blogging, Speaking, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Video, Podcasts, and all the other storytelling bits-and-pieces I partake in, it becomes much more attainable.
I won’t achieve this by staying on my site, though. I must Guest Blog. I must syndicate my posts and appear on sites like Business Insider and Forbes. I must grow my own podcast, and appear on other people’s, too. I must publish I Unlove You and The Successful Mistake. I need to speak at more schools and colleges, and conferences, as well.
I must become a better writer, storyteller, marketer, and connector, because none of these things just happen.
[Tweet “”I must become a better writer, storyteller, marketer, and connector, because none of these things just happen.””]
But this isn’t about growing my blog so it reaches 10,000 unique visitors each month. It isn’t about building a mailing list of 20,000 emails. Aims like these mean nothing. Instead, it’s about reaching 100,000 people with MY stories. The focus isn’t on the number, but the stories and words on offer.
Such an important difference to reiterate, because I don’t want to share sub-par work with 100,000 strangers. Doing so would embarrass the heck out of me! Oh no, I want to touch these people, and make them feel something. This ensures my focus remains on quality, not quantity. (like list posts designed to capture lots of eyes, but little action).
And with an eye on quality like this, and an ever improving push to spread my wings, I’ll meet more people, appear on more sites, touch more readers with my stories, and no doubt sell more books… gather more clients… improve my authority… do more talks…
In turn, this allows me to achieve Goals one and two.
HOW MEANINGFUL ARE YOUR 2015 GOALS?
My goals have never meant anything before. They’ve made sense, but never had meaning or soul. Because of this, I stick to them for a few weeks, but quickly turn my back on them. Maybe the goal of selling 2,000 books works for some people, and maybe it does for you. That’s fine. If it works, keep doing it.
My guess is, if you’ve read this far, it doesn’t work for you. You reach December and feel guilty and low.
I’ve no idea if these 2015 Goals will motivate me throughout the year and keep me on the righteous path. At this moment in time, I’ve no idea whether I’ll succeed or fail. I’m confident and optimistic they’ll help, because they have meaning and soul. They have a why. They’re about taking my son on holiday, and forming a true bond with him.
They’re about my health, and figuring out a lifestyle that frees me from anxiety.
They’re about nurturing realtionships and friendships with those I admire and care about.
They’re about touching people with my stories, instead of large numbers and impressive lists.
[Tweet “”make sure your goals have meaning, because without this, what’s their worth? What point do they have?””]
And if this sounds good to you, and you’d like to tweak your own 2015 Goals, you can:
- DEFINE WHAT SUCCESS MEANS TO YOU (write it down, record it, draw it, whatever the hell you like…)
- FOCUS ON GOALS THAT HAVE MEANING (what makes you tick? what do you care about? what do you love?)
- MAKE SURE THESE GOALS PUSH YOU TOWARDS YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS
That’s it. You can make them S.M.A.R.T. if you like. They can be about money and fame and growing your business. Just make sure they have meaning, because without this, what’s their worth? What point do they have?
As for defining what success means to you… well… if there’s one thing I’ve learned from The Successful Mistake, it’s this. Successful entreprenurs have figured out what success means to them, and they ensure they work on projects that pushes them towards this each day. A lot of the time, this is all that separates us from them.
With this, I’ll bid you a happy New Year. I hope you’re as excited about 2015 as I am, and I hope you have many plans ahead. I’d love to hear them, so get in touch via FACEBOOK or TWITTER, for this is where the cool conversations happen.
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