“Forget the mistake. Remember the lesson.” ~Lisa Messenger

Happy new year! Welcome to another year of possibility, growth and bold action.

As we ease into January, I wanted to take you behind-the-scenes in my business to share my top five business lessons from 2017 and how I’ll be incorporating my learnings into my 2018 plans.

I hope you’ll take time to do the same.

Enjoy the episode!

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Full Transcript

Welcome to the Beyond PRO Podcast, leadership insights for women in business. I’m your host, Stephanie Pollock, and you are listening to episode number 51. On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about the five top business lessons I learned in 2017. So let’s get started.

Hey there! Great to have you here for another show.

This episode is brought to you by the Leadership League Mastermind – my bi-annual mastermind for ambitious women ready for more. Over the course of our time together, you’ll claim a Bold-Ass Move (or we call it a BAM for short) and make it happen, with the support, coaching, and cheerleading of a small group of women who want your success as much as you do. Applications are open now and we start in early February.

Check it out and apply here.

Alright – let’s dive into today’s show.

First, let me start by wishing you a happy new year. I’ve been spending the past few weeks enjoying time with my family, watching lots of movies, playing games and eating a few too many shortbread cookies. It’s been SO cold here in Calgary — last week we hit temps of -36 with -41 with the windchill factor. That’s -29 Fahrenheit for my non-metric friends. Bottom line? It was REALLY cold.

Second, I’ve got a brand new Instagram account dedicated to this podcast and my business that I’d love you to pop over and visit if you’re an IG kinda listener. I decided to do this because my personal account is filled with books, kids, coffee and food, and I wanted to create a space for us to talk about the ideas I share here on this podcast. You can find me at stephaniepollockinc – just look for the episode graphics and feel free to share a learning or insight or reflection you had.

Now, as we make room for what’s to be in 2018, I encourage you to visit today’s show notes page. I’ll list out a few of my favourite episodes devoted to planning, goals and setting your business up for success. And I’ll touch on it in the coming weeks. I tend to let my planning go beyond January 1 — well into the first couple of weeks of January.

So, if you haven’t started, know that you’re not behind. There’s lots of time to make your big goals happen.

And one of the best ways to ensure that is by making sure you take the lessons of last year and apply them to your actions this year. To help inspire you, I thought I’d share my top five business lessons I learned in 2017. No year will be perfect, and every year offers the opportunity to grow and become better versions of ourselves.

So here they are in no particular order:

Get out from behind the screen

When I first started my business I was primarily doing corporate and non-profit communications consulting work. This meant that I was largely going out to meet clients at their offices. Business came largely through word-of-mouth and through my previous connections from my corporate world.

Fast forward a few years, and my business has operated largely online – leveraging the power of social media and an email list to grow my clientele. That was perfect for a time as my kids were very little and making lunch meetings just wasn’t in the cards. In 2014 and 2015 I felt the itch to get out more. I joined some women’s groups, spoke on more stages and met up with fellow entrepreneurs locally. And I felt great.

By late 2016 and through all of 2017, I started to retreat. We had some stuff going personally (nothing bad, just stuff that needed more attention) and honestly, as a highly sensitive person, I was deeply impacted by what was happening in our world. I stopped going out to connect, I didn’t book even one speaking gig, and I spent most of my days in isolation except for client calls.

All through this period, I didn’t really realize what a toll it was taking until I came close to the end of 2017 and realized that I just didn’t feel good. I felt lonely and disconnected. I was spending more time in my head, which usually sends me into second-guessing and over-thinking.

I wish I had picked up on this earlier, but luckily I had a bit of a light bulb and realized how pivotal it is to get out from behind the screen and meet people in real life.

In the last two months of the year, I turned things around and made a few lunch or coffee dates, attended a conference, and entrepreneurial brunch and got out with friends. And it made ALL the difference – both to my mental well-being and to my business. I have four speaking gigs booked for 2018 already, and a handful of potential new clients. Just from a few in-person meetings.

This is so key for all of us who work primarily online. When we get out from behind the screen we increase our client attraction potential, make new connections that help us grow and we feel better. And yes, I’m talking to you too my fellow introverts. It’s not about being in person for most of your waking business hours, but rather baking that into your business mix.

You can bet that I’ll be getting out there more in 2018.

Micro-moves = big booms

In truth, this isn’t a new lesson but one I was so acutely reminded of this year as I watched my Leadership League mastermind members take on their Bold-Ass Moves.

While they each claimed a big, bold move to fuel their growth, at the end of the day, they made things happen by taking many, many small moves along the way. Every day they battled between hiding, taking the easy way or sitting in comfort, or taking another small step toward their goals.

I’m sure I’ve shared this quote on the podcast before, but Gretchen Rubin once said, “What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while.” I am forever reminded that our results rarely come from one big catalyst action but rather a bunch of baby steps that all lead to big booms.

In 2018, I’m using this lesson to spend more time building my consistency muscle — which I’ve said before is my own personal Achilles heel. In particular, I’m making a commitment to myself to show up in some small way every day — that might be a podcast, that might be a social media post or that might be connecting with someone. But small steps taken daily are what’s required and what’s sustainable for me this year.

How about you? What micro move could you commit to doing regularly in pursuit of your ambitions?

The Power is in the Tracking

When I worked in corporate, my job was to work with non-profit and community builders to offer up investment dollars for projects and initiatives that aligned with our business values and goals and supported growing our community.

One of the most critical components of this job was measuring the impact of our dollars on the results in the community. Sometimes those results could be measured immediately, other times it took much longer, and still other times we couldn’t find evidence that any real change had occurred, leading us to not invest again.

And we had very specific processes we used to measure and report on this. Because, as is a common corporate maxim, what gets measured gets managed.

Naturally, this applies to everything else in our lives. When we track what we care about, we are exponentially more likely to see progress and growth. When we write down a goal and then hope it happens without any checks and balances along the way, we are likely to end up with different results.

This lesson came to me in two different ways this year. First, I realized how key tracking is for me. I’ll use an easy, personal example that is transferable to business or anything else. In December of 2016, I set a goal to read 52 books in 2017. I recorded a podcast episode, #35 which I’ll link in the show notes, about how to read more and better in 2017.

Now to be clear, at the time reading 52 books was an ambitious goal for me. I love to read, but since having kids, it was the last thing to happen. I wanted that to change and embarked on a quest that I wasn’t sure I could achieve.

Fast forward to December 31, 2017. I wrapped up my 56th book on New Years Eve day — four over my goal.

I can attribute this win to a few things, but for the sake of this particular lesson, I can look back and see how much tracking and accountability played into me realizing this goal. It started by me being public about my goals, then by posting most of my reads on Instagram (follow along with this year’s goal of 60 here), and most importantly by tracking my reads inside of GoodReads under their reading challenges option.

This last piece – the GoodReads tracking – changed the game for me. It allowed me to update my progress of each read, and then mark off completed books as I went – watching my progress bar rise. Seeing the numbers change – 5% toward my goal, 20% toward my goal, 60% toward my goal and so on kept me motivated to keep reading.

It essentially gamified it for me a bit and it was what I needed to see this challenge through. I have NO doubt that had I just declared this goal to myself and not taking these accountability and tracking measures, I wouldn’t have reached this goal.

I shared another example of this in episode #49, entitled “How to embrace rejection vs running from it” where I shared the story of one mastermind member who kept a chart with 100 blank circles on it, and every time she made a brave move, she put a sticker on one of those blank circles, tracking her bravery one sticker at a time. She ended 2017 with 76 stickers and plans to get the remaining 24 this month.

Whatever you want to create this year, find a way to measure and track your progress. Make it fun and inspiring to keep you in action when you hit the messy middle.

Embrace planning but make room for serendipity

You all know how much I love to plan. I honestly could spend each day, every day planning – that’s how much I love pulling out my calendars, sticky notes and brainstorming what fits where. I’ve got an entire course dedicated to planning.

I firmly believe that without any kind of plan, you’ll live your life by default only to wake up in 10 years wondering how the heck you got where you did.

But, I’m embracing the idea of making room for serendipity in 2018. Realizing that as much as I love to plan, nothing has ever rolled out exactly as I recorded in my Evernote notebook. Because life rarely works that way.

I have a client that had a REALLY hard year this year. The details of why are not mine to share, but in early 2017 she was in a really uncertain, precarious place and it would not be stretching it to say she was feeling panicked. She couldn’t see the future and for the first time, it really felt out of her control.

Fast forward to our conversation a few weeks ago and she’s in a completely different place. She’s done some deep inner work and she’s coming into a really awesome place – inviting opportunity and possibility to enter her life, even if it is showing up differently than how she first expected or planned for.

It was a powerful reminder to me that we have to make room for both plans and serendipity. To hold our plans with unclenched fists and open hearts, knowing that we have a roadmap to navigate the year ahead but that new and exciting rest stops might beckon us to pull over and explore along the way.

There’s lots of time and there’s not enough time

I’m going to fully embrace a cliche with this lesson, and that’s there is a lot of time and there’s not enough time. What a paradox right?

This year, on 07.17.17, I turned 40. And as anyone who’s hit this milestone birthday can attest, I was, how shall we put it, a bit conflicted.

Part of me was struck by the realization that I have hit “middle age” and that I’m not the young woman embarking out on my career, but rather well into it. In weaker moments, my fear kicks in and tells me I’m running out of time and I better get on it already, whatever “it” is.

The other part of me relishes in this rite of passage, feeling like the best is yet to come and I’ll bring a much wiser, grounded version of myself to the next 40+.

It’s the Ying and Yang of feeling like there’s more than enough time and not enough time all at once. In practice, this means for me that:

  • I’m over worrying about what other people think of me – I don’t have time for that
  • I’m done getting caught up in my perfectionist tendencies – I don’t have time for that
  • I’m saying goodbye to consuming more than I create – I don’t have time for that
  • I’m letting my best ideas percolate and release over time – I’ve got lots of time for that
  • I’m not forcing myself to achieve every single life goal by 2019 – I’ve got lots of time for that
  • And I’m mapping out a longer-term vision for my business that goes well beyond the next year or even five years – I’ve got lots of time for that

As human beings who strive for more, we are constantly in conflict with the selves we want to be against the selves who’ve reached the big goals. I live in this tension daily.

Turning 40 offered me a reminder to check in with what things I’m trying to rush and bulldoze my way through and offer myself some space and grace, while conversely upping the urgency on the things that I really don’t have time for anymore. And most importantly, knowing the difference between the two.

I encourage you to ask yourself the same two questions: 1) What do you no longer have time for because life is short and it’s time to just get on it, and 2) Where can you offer yourself more time and space to let things unfold?

That’s it for today’s episode. Again, you can head to the show notes page at stephaniepollock.com/bpp051 to get links to everything we’ve talked about today. And if you’d like to learn more about the upcoming Leadership League Mastermind, head over here and submit your application. We’ll pop on the phone for a quick chat to ensure it’s the right step for you.

Have a wonderful day and I’ll catch you on the next episode.

Recommended Resources:

The Leadership League Mastermind – enrolling for February 2018 cohort

How to read more and better in 2017

Embracing rejection vs running from it

Join me on my quest to read 60 books in 2018 on Instagram here or GoodReads here

My PRO Plan

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Here are the top 5 business lessons I learned in 2017

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