My 3 Words of 2016 (and guiding goals for Insanitek)

Check out the second Post-It note!

Check out the second Post-It note!

The first time I heard of the “word(s) a year” concept, it was from Chris Brogan. My first year of trying it, I failed miserably because I wasn’t comfortable in what our primary focuses were. There was just too much to do, too little time. I chose words, but I didn’t focus on it at all the first year. The second year it was better — I got all our systems straightened out.

Talk about confidence at the end of the year when I reflected on our wins. There wasn’t just a smooth system to admire, there were all of our systems to admire. There was not just a little structure, but a lot of ideas and structure to work off of from here on out. Our clients were happier due to our intake, processing, working, and farewell systems. And, finally, my subcontractors are happier because it’s so much easier to work with systems. This is a huge amount of confidence that came out of a single word of “Systems”.

It wasn’t as easy for me as declaring a word. I had to have structure.

I ended up finding my working niche by combining Chris’s word of the year concept with Megan Flatt‘s “My Tiny Empire” challenge, which revolves around my favourite office tool: Post-It notes. The first note is the word(s) you choose for the year. I have yet to figure out how many is the perfect number for myself, but this year I chose 3: Teach, ask, and listen. These words will all combine with the rest of the structure that follows. Here’s how it works.

Choose words that mean something to you, yet give direction.  Make it something that you can work on all year round. In my case, teach refers to teaching and developing our Knowledge Conduit division into something very useful and affordable. We want to do e-courses, have pay-what-you-want PDFs that you can use as a self-guided teaching method, Q&A in the forums among the members and tutors, and helpful posts (and maybe videos?).

Ask refers to being able to ask people what they want, as well as asking for help, and asking people to buy things. My major focus will be on asking people what they want and asking people for help. I’m sure I’ll get over myself and ask people to buy things, but it will be hard for me to get over that insecurity. However, I can’t afford to keep going with all free stuff, so asking for their support if they like what I’m doing is the best I can do.

Listen refers to listening to the answers when people tell me what they want. Listen also refers to listening to my employees, clients, students, and others when they tell me what’s working and what’s not working. We are still growing up, and I want Insanitek to always be agile enough to change with the times. The only way I will know things need to change is if I establish a base of listening.

Declaration of intentions isn’t everything, though.

I found that acknowledging and celebrating our big wins gives a lot of reflection. That’s why it is note number 2, and right at the front. Seeing it there reminds me that with focus, those wins will build upon themselves.

20160101_182708Note 3 gets back to the point with talking about goals, though. What are the main goals of the year that will keep us on track of those words? It helps to choose something big enough to be a year-long adventure to keep you focused. In this case, it’s an e-course every quarter and three printables a month for self-guided learning. It will be a stretch to get it, but that is the point. It stretches you and makes you reach higher.

Note 4 is the big leap that I have to make this year. It’s no secret I’m terrible at asking people for money. I have a big heart, and I want to help everyone — especially those that want to work themselves out of poverty and make something of their life. I can’t do it alone, and the best way I can get everyone that believes in Insanitek’s mission — believes in my mission — is to ask them to pay for our services. Even if it’s just a donation for a cup of coffee.

Note 5 acknowledges priorities. These priorities are both in business and life, or rather where life overlaps business. Health is very important, and I need to focus on that so I’m on the top of my game. After that is sales so we can continue to grow and change the world.

Note 6 admits that I don’t know everything, and zeros in on the things that I need to learn this year. Most of them are related to the words, but I have to admit that I also need to learn more about taxes, bookkeeping, and accounting as well.

Note 7 is a simple note reminding me of what actions I need to take to make all of this happen.

But you also have to look at the notes!

I have the notes proudly in the middle of my white board at home. I pass by it every day, several times a day. Somehow I haven’t learnt to ignore it yet. This seems to be the biggest key. It’s both a scaffolding for the year and a strategy. It’s loose enough to work more things into, and yet tight enough to keep things challenging. Every time I pass by it, I notice the connections to what I want to make Insanitek, the motivation behind it, and gives myself direction.

Let’s see if this year I can do three little words and seven little notes.

What do you do to plan your year? What are your words?