Having a business can be like watching a tree grow. When you look at the tree every day you can easily believe it’s not growing, but if you were to take a picture of it each year you’d see that over time it’s grown from a tiny sapling into a huge, well-established tree.
When we forget to check-in at regular intervals it can be easy to assume our progress is slow. But taking some time to record a few numbers and how things are going at the end of each month quickly builds up a picture that shows your progress over time.
Making this monthly check-in a regular habit also gives you a chance to acknowledge your achievements as well as take on board what you’ve learned, and make conscious decisions about what you want to change up moving forward.
In the Ponderlily journal is a double page at the end of each month that says monthly check-in, and that’s exactly what I use this section for. It’s helpful to have that prompt in my diary every month, and there’s just enough space to record a few reflections before I go onto planning for the month ahead.
My Reflection Process
I then go into collecting some numbers, nothing too detailed but enough to see how my business is growing each month. This usually reveals where things are flourishing, and also where things need some attention.
The numbers I collect are; income, expenses, profit; and then marketing numbers, things like the number of visits to my website, Instagram followers, YouTube subscribers and mailing list subscribers. You can of course collect a totally different set of numbers to suit you.
This is where, once you’ve been collecting the same set of numbers for a few months, you can see your progress, and how the small steps really do add up over time.
I then list three reasons to celebrate. This is important because we’re always battling against the negativity bias in our brains. We tend to notice the things that didn’t go well, the things that challenged us or didn’t go to plan. So, it’s important to consciously seek out the positives and record the things that went well.
When you do this often, you start to train your brain to look for the positive outcomes which can teach us just as much as our challenges and go a long way to keeping you motivated. Perhaps, for example, the things that went well and felt easy are the things you want to intentionally make more time for over the following month.
In all, it probably takes me about ten to fifteen minutes at the end of each month to do my check-in and review, and it’s time well invested so that I’m moving into the next month with intention.
As I write this, we’re approaching the end of the year and I love nothing more than a fresh chapter, a blank journal and a new plan. I’ll be using my monthly check-ins to help me reflect on the year as a whole, and help me make a plan for the year ahead.
Photo Credit: Elle Narbrook
Josephine Brooks is a Make It Happen mentor whose mission is to help creative business owners build a business that enables them to live the slower, more meaningful lifestyle they ache for, by helping them find clarity around how they want to live and work and then make a plan, and make it happen. Her philosophy is all about doing less and focussing on the most impactful projects and tasks rather than getting stuck in the endless hustle.
Aside from her work, Josephine is a self-confessed country bumpkin living a slow and seasonal life in the Hampshire countryside. She can often be found in her wellies walking her two dogs or drinking many cups of tea from the garden in summer, or sitting by the fire with her knitting in winter.