Monthly Reflections With My Ponderlily Planner by Josephine Brooks

 

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 start by writing a postcard to myself that is a general reflection on how I’m feeling and how the past month went. The pale box on the top left of the monthly check-in spread helps me to keep this succinct, just a quick reflection on the month over all.
        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.
            Other marketing bits I record are things like, what my most popular content on my website was that month, my most popular Instagram posts and what my most impactful marketing move was. This enables me to see patterns in what marketing is working, and what’s taking up too much time for the results it’s creating.


                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.
                    I also take note of what challenged me over the past month. Maybe it was a difficult conversation, learning a new piece of tech or struggles with the general ups and downs of growing a business. We can learn so much from our challenges. Perhaps your struggles this month revealed a strength you weren’t aware of, or perhaps it taught you that you never want to do that thing again. And that’s a good lesson to learn because often we learn from a process of elimination. We figure out what we want to do, and how we want to live by experiencing how we don’t want to live and work.
                        Before I wrap up my review, I review my progress against the goals in my 12-week plan (I always plan in 12-week chunks, it’s long enough to make some big things happen, but not so far into the future that it feels overwhelming). I’ll give each goal a ‘red’, ‘amber’ or ‘green’ depending on how I’m getting on with my goals and note anything that I need to change up for next month to get back on track with any goals that I’m behind with.
                            Finally, I write down what I learned that month, and what I want to change moving forwards. This will just be one or two things to make it manageable. This final part of my check-in process ties the whole thing up into a neat bow and sets me up for the month ahead.

                              Moving Forward

                              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

                              About Josephine

                              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.

                              Website: https://www.josephinebrooks.co.uk

                              Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/josephinepbrooks/

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