I am no stranger to burnout. I have ambitious goals for myself and my business and I have a tendency to put it all on my plate. I don’t think about how it will all get done. I don’t consider that I might have too many large goals at one time. I don’t consider taking care of me, personally. I just blindly declare all the amazing things I’m going to achieve for the year and dive in.
And every year, starting around October, I burnout. I lose interest in my business. I have little to no motivation to meet my goals, which, by the way, I have likely only achieved one or two. I start to question why I’m doing this business at all. I start to wonder, “Is this all there is?”. This past year, I spiraled down a dark hole of despair.
By Thanksgiving, I made the decision to put myself as a priority and “work” took a back seat. I buried myself in my art journals and let my creative artsy flag fly. I spent most days at my art table playing. Some may say I was doing nothing and hiding, but I would say I was nourishing a neglected soul. I burned out and I needed to recharge. Side note, this is a huge improvement compared to the year before, where I just pushed through the burnout and made uninspired goals for the following year. At least this time, I turned inward.
I got pretty sick with COVID-19 around Christmas which was the perfect opportunity to pause, reflect and pull it together.
How can I feed my need to achieve and grow and not burnout? How can I continue to grow my business without starving my creative artsy soul? The answer? Plan out my year.
Planning is absolutely not my thing. Calendars stress me out. Linear thinking is the opposite of how I approach things. But, as I lay curled up in a feverish ball, contemplating my life, I knew that I needed a plan. I needed a plan that not only mapped out what I wanted to achieve for my business, but to make room for creativity. I want to be able to dive into my artsy creative space without guilt. I needed a plan that was flexible and honestly took into account all the things I wanted to do.
I found a calendar template for Google Sheets and first mapped out the content I wanted to create for my business for the entire year. This was a great exercise for me, because it forced me to see my content holistically across the year. To plan for holidays and seasons. How I got by without a content calendar is beyond me. Well, I do know how I got by. I missed weeks, I worked last minute to get content posted. I was constantly chasing my calendar, versus working ahead.
I then worked backwards from the content dates and scheduled in when I was going to do the work or when the work needed to get done by my team. Once all the “working” time was blocked out, I scheduled in “ME” time. That’s right, I scheduled in my creativity. I scheduled in days off. In fact, the last week of each month is now a free week. I will not work on my business during that time. This will take some discipline but rather than burning out and recharging at the end of the year, I will be recharging at the end of each month.
I scheduled in exercise, date night and my art clubs. Now, all of this can be moved around, but this gave me a clear picture of my bandwidth. Once I mapped everything out, I had to make some tough decisions with moving some goals down on the priority list. I narrowed it down to three goals for the entire year. Just three. Based on my new fancy calendar, that is all I have space for. I could do more, but something would have to give. It would have to be an adjustment to my goals, because I am not willing to negotiate my “ME” time. It is critical to my happiness and success.
As I get further into the year, I may discover that I have more time than I planned. Great! If I end up achieving my goals earlier than expected, then I can always add more to my plate. It’s my life and my business. I can do whatever I want. But my number one goal for the year is to feed my creative soul and to take care of my emotional and physical health.
If you can relate to any of what I have written, I encourage you to create a calendar that inspires you. Get clear on what you want to achieve this year and map it out. Schedule in work AND play. Your goals should reflect who you want to be in 12 months? State it as if it is true right now and map out an inspiring year. You’ve got this.