Taking Time To Celebrate 2017

Taking Time To Celebrate 2017

On the day you read this there will be still 13 days of 2017 left to go…. but from a business perspective this week marks the end of another year and I like to think that, like me, you’ll be giving yourself valuable time over Christmas to rest and recharge.  Because of course your ability to run your busines and serve your clients fully during the rest of the year depends on you being able to switch off completely and recharge your batteries at key times of year – for me Christmas is one of those.

I’m actually writing this on 12th December, 2 days before I fly to Morocco for 10 days of sun, relaxation, yoga and surfing.  Sitting here in my favourite restaurant (affectionately known as my “second office”) I’m very much in winding down and reflective mode.

The view from my "second office"

At the end of 2013 and 2014 I wrote blog posts reflecting on my progress in those years, but not being a very systematic type of person I haven’t done it since.  So I thought it would be an idea to reinstate it –  maybe even make it an annual thing from now on!

So just like in 2014 I’m going to share my highs and lows of 2017 with you and also invite you to grab yourself a cuppa and spend 5 minutes answering these questions for yourself.   It can be so easy to not pause to acknowledge our achievements and instead quickly move on to the next thing, or if you are in the early stages of setting up your business, to ignore the green shoots of progress and think you’re failing just because you haven’t yet got a mighty oak tree in the back garden.

So, let’s take a moment and celebrate our 2017 before we move fully into 2018.

I’ll go first:

What were my biggest achievements in 2017?

Firstly – and technically this  actually happened right at the end of 2016 but I didn’t do a review then so I’ll sneak it in here – a big achievement for me was having the courage to stop running the 12 month high-end mentoring programme that I’d poured my heart and soul into developing for four years.   While the decision was made and the action taken at the end of 2016, not having this programme as a major commitment coloured 2017 right from the get go and left me the time and space to feel into what came next.

Secondly, I did a lot of things very differently in my launch in September and as a result it was a record launch for me 57% more people join the Get More Clients Saying Yes! course than from the same launch in the previous year.

At the time it felt like a big risk and took a lot courage to do so many things differently at once.  I couldn’t shake off the words of one of my early mentors who used to day that when something is working you should make one big change at at time, otherwise you’ve no way to measure which changes are working.   But I also knew instinctively that what had been working was going to stop “working” if I didn’t change it up.

Finally, right at the end of 2017 I “beta-launched” a new membership community (actually, strictly speaking its in “pre-beta”). I’ve always felt drawn to the membership model but I know how difficult it is to get them working, and to keep people wanting to renew their membership month on month.  I’ve seen too many business friends and peers try and give up when it proved tougher than they imagined so I’ve steered clear.    But this year it was “time“.  To begin with I only invited previous participants of my programmes (plus people who’d bought a ticket to the live event) to join.  As a result there are 110 founding members whose feedback will help me to shape it over the next 6 months – who knows, between us maybe we’ll make it so good that you’ll decide to join us too?

Taking time to celebrate 2017

What were my magic moments in 2017?

This year there were quite a few magic moments:

I launched my new website
This was a H.U.G.E. project and way more work than I had estimated. (I suspect they always are)  I worked so closely with my website designer Nicola Wise over a 6 week period that it was definitely the primary relationship in my life!    I created the  quiz and wrote the authentic sales style profiles, rewrote all the copy (the About Me page was particularly difficult and took  days and  days – I had renewed sympathy for all my clients who I’ve seen struggle with this) and reviewed the design and gave detailed feedback to Nicola on an almost daily basis.

But it was well worth the investment of time and money.  I couldn’t be more delighted with the outcome and I feel it gave me a whole new energy and confidence that created the foundation for a lot of the new things I went on to do in the second half of the year:

I started a free Facebook group
This was one of my “bold moves” for 2017.  I’ve had Facebook groups for my paid-for programmes for 5 years, but had a lot of resistance and nervousness about starting a free group (would I be able to keep up the commitment?  Would people still buy from me if they were getting a lot more for free?).   But I shouldn’t have worried.  I’ve loved having a group where I can share freely and add value even to those people who are not ready to buy, and maybe never will.  Running a free group also really brought home to me the benefits of showing up and serving (more about this further on.)

I hosted the “Keeping it Real” honest conversations series
This was another magic moment in its own right. First of all I loved doing it. Everyone I interviewed is a genuine “business buddy” of mine – meaning that they run a successful business, but they are also a good friend. We got to have the sorts of conversations about business that we have in private but this time in public with you as “flies on the wall.”

What I loved most is that it was a much more “value added” way of bringing new people into my community than the joint venture webinars I’ve done in previous years.  It meant that people had more time to get to know me and get a feel for my approach before I invited them to buy several weeks later.

I ran Selling from the Heart Live  as a 2 day event
From a purely financial point of view this wasn’t a great idea at all.   It doubled the cost of what’s already a very expensive venture, right when I was no longer offering a high-ticket programme to help cover the cost.  But I did it anyway, and for a purely selfish reason:  so that I could enjoy it more!   In previous years it had always felt that after all the weeks of hard work in the lead up it was a sort of “blink and I missed it” event for me. This year I made all the offers for on the Saturday so on Sunday I could relax completely and just enjoy sharing the content and mingling with the delegates.  This made it SO much more fun for me.   It also allowed me to meet more of the particpants, and build even more time for people to get to know each other.   So that’s decided then – it’s definitely a 2 dayer from now on!

Catherine Watkin speaking at Selling from the Heart Live

What were my biggest disappointments?

I’ve struggled to think of any really major disapointments in 2017.  Which is definitely in contrast to just about every previous year!

However, I put this down to a combination of things:

Firstly, despite the fact that quite a lot happened most of the year had more of a feel of retreat, consolidation and reflection rather than pushing forward. I took time out at the beginning of the year to reflect on what was next after following my instinct to stop running the 12-month mentoring programme. It’s not that I took time off specifically – I was still running the business and working with clients – but I wasn’t trying to “make something happen”. It wasn’t until the end of March that I finally got crystal clarity about the next step, July before I started putting it into action.

But I think that the other big reason I didn’t have any major disappointments is because I’ve become a lot  better at being kind to myself than in earlier years.  I’m better at recognizing that not everything happens perfectly, exactly when I’d like it to, and in the way I’d like it to.  And that the ups and downs of business are just part of a bigger picture – my human experience on the planet – and that what matters more than specific outcomes is how I respond to them without losing my sense of balance and wellbeing.

Plus if I’m honest think I did hit a bit of a magic seam this year – you know, those times when you are so fully on path and on purpose that the universe sort of lines up behind you and everything works out in the end?  It felt a bit like that, with every clear intention that I set coming to fruition (although not without quite a bit of effort or my share of bumps in the road).

What lessons did I learn?

I had quite an easy start to the year, but from mid-May right up to the day I’m writing this in the wind down to Christmas it was pretty full-on:  First there was a house move, then the rebrand, website redesign, quiz creation, launch of website, kick off of free Facebook group and the start of the weekly videos.   Next followed my pre-launch, the Keeping it Real conversation series, then the main launch of my course, delivery of the course, live event lead up and preparation, live event, and post event sales. Phew! Although I did take 2 holidays during that time, when I look back the feeling is that it’s was one long stretch of intense work since May.

And so what I learned is this:  that even though I love every minute of my business –  and I don’t think I’ve  been this excited about the vision I’m creating, or enjoyed my work more than I have this year – I learned that if I don’t take time out for me I can still get depleted and burn out.   I learned that I need to get much better at scheduling my time out well before I feel I need it, and that feeling excited about my work isn’t a good enough reason not to take enough time off!

I also learned that if I show up and serve. And show up and serve. And show up and serve, that people will join my programmes.  I’m not sure I fully trusted that before and always felt I should be doing something “cleverer” with my marketing or doing things to “improve” my own sales process. But in fact what this year showed me is that if I can get in front of enough people with the aim of helping, giving and serving that the sales follow without major changes to my existing sales process (though of course I do know what I’m doing in this area too!).  And this shift in thinking means that I’ve developed more trust in my business than ever before – and I’ve enjoyed it much more!

What are my top 3 business goals for 2018

So finally, my top 3 business goals for 2018 (after a long luxurious break over Christmas of course!) are:

  1. To launch the new Business from the Heart Membership Community properly mid-2018 with the aim of reaching a membership of 200 while keeping every one of those members delighted with what they are getting.
  2. To have the membership community become a key revenue stream in it’s own right.  This will allow me to turn my attention full-time to continuing to grow and improve it, so it can only get better and better.
  3. To work abroad more. And by this I don’t mean holidays. What I’m aiming for is a return to my nomadic roots and spending chunks of time living and working abroad or in other parts of the UK,  starting with spending April in Perth with my best friend Sophie (Sophie, I’ve made it public so it must be happening!).

Why am I absolutely 100% committed to achieving these top 3 goals?

Interestingly, when I read this question this year my initial response is:  “well, I’m not absolutely 100% committed”.   What I mean by that is that I no longer set goals and then feel a strong attachment to pushing to make them happen, putting myself under too much pressure and feeling unhappy in the process.    Instead of an “absolute 100% commitment” which feels like a huge amount of pressure I prefer to see my goals as “intentions”.  As in: “This is what I “think” I want to happen this year, but I’m open to the universe having other ideas, or to something I learn along the way leading to a change of direction”.   After all if I’d started 2017 with a fixed, unmoveable goal in mind I never would have launched the membership programme.

So I’m changing the question to:

Why do these goals feel important to me?

These goals feel important to me because one thing I’ve learned this year is what really matters to me is “community” and that staying connected to and continuing to support the very special people who do my programmes is really important to me.

I also feel passionately about giving small business owners a solid business education so that they can learn to make their own decisions and trust their own instincts – rather than be reliant on working with a mentor all the time, or being blinded by the latest big (and not necessarily realistic) promise that’s being hyped on social media.

And also because I know I’m damn good at what I do (you’ll have to excuse my very un-British lack of modesty for a moment) and I know do it with love and integrity, even where that’s had a personal cost to me.   There are far too many people teaching small business owners who use smoke and mirrors and pull the wool over their eyes for personal gain.  Because of this I feel called to reach many many more business owners and help them through the fog and confusion that is so common at the start of a new business journey

I hope that you too have taken a few minutes out of your day to answer these questions. I’d love to know what your biggest celebration or magic moment from 2017 was!  Do take a minute to share it in the comments.  I’ll definitely be reading them all (just not until I get back from Morocco!).

And now that we’ve reflected on just how far we’ve come in 2017, we’re ready to turn our attention to making 2018 the best year yet for our lives and businesses!

Wishing you success, joy and happiness for the year to come!

And if you’re curious to look back, you can read all about what I celebrated back in 2014: Taking Time to Celebrate 2014.  (2013 seems to have got mislaid or deleted during the web redesign but if I find it I’ll link to it later).

With Love & Gratitude,

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Please leave a comment as I would love to hear your thoughts

  1. Deborah Taylor on December 19, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    I loved this article and the approach to goals and the motivation behind them.

    I must say, I had some difficulty picking just three top goals, but then I am a Creator so it’s not surprising that three would feel very limiting to me. However, I am reassuring myself that once I’ve achieved my top three goals I will be free to pick some new ones (“Phew!” says my inner Creator).

    So…. my top three goals are:
    1: Write and publish a book (at least one).
    2: Finish my website so I can start publishing and selling my Planners and QuickGuides.
    3: Hire a team to support me (my Creator likes this idea, of course) so I can create more STUFF.

    These goals are important to me because they will allow me to do more of what I enjoy (creating new things), serving my clients and marketing, especially speaking, networking, blogging and FB Lives (which are also high on my list for next year). Lovely.

  2. Cheryl Edwards on January 15, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    Beautifully written Catherine, thank you. I had recently heard discussion around goals and why you want them. It really hones down what the reasons are and then you get clarity as to whether its really something you want or not.

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