The last quarter of every year, I spend three months on a creative and strategic reset. The idea is to review my daily work and compare it to what I want to be creating and sharing.
To me, this is an essential step in developing one’s platform and creating marketing strategies that work. It involves being radically clear about what you create, how you can best communicate that, and who you are hoping to reach.
Some of it is big picture work, a time where I go back to the well and reconnect with the most basic questions of what inspires me, what motivates me, and how I can best help others. But much of the work is in-the-trenches strategic and tactical work, focused on actions to take.
This is a creative reset. Not a big dramatic reset, but a small incremental one. I do this every year, and year-by-year, I feel closer and closer to what I create and who I connect with.
What are the goals?
- To feel a sense of creative clarity.
- To make the difficult choices about where to put my time and creative energy.
- To ensure everything I work on feels aligned.
- To focus on creating the moments and experiences I want my life to be filled with.
- To consider how I can help writers and creators even more.
What am I not focusing on in all of this? Hollow milestones. Hollow numbers. Achievements that sound good on paper, but don’t truly lead to meaningful experiences or connections to others. I’m not asking “how can I grow my subscribers and followers.” Instead, I’m asking, “how can I live a life filled with creating, connecting, and helping.”
This is also how I manage mental health and anxiety. To know that at this time of year, I can look at all of the ideas I never seem to get to. When I can ask myself what truly matters. When I give myself permission to say YES to what is in my heart and NO THANK YOU to otherwise good ideas, that don’t lead to the experiences that matter most to me.
Some of the activities I am doing this quarter:
Identify Areas for Growth
As I mentioned above, I determine growth not in metrics, but experiences. Throughout the year, I write down ideas for projects and revisions to how I currently work. During this quarter, I:
Collect all of those ideas together into a single document.
Categorize them and combine like ideas together.
Explore where each will lead through brainstorming.
Prioritize what feels like it matters most.
Identify a simple action to get started with the most important items on the list.
Then I let go of the low priority items. I allow myself to be okay with not pursuing them. These are often good ideas, but letting go of them releases the idea of always feeling behind. Of feeling swamped under an endless list of to-dos.
All of this has me carefully considering where I invest my time and energy. As I said in an earlier essay, my focus is on helping writers and creators, and being present for my wife and kids. Choosing how I want to grow and the ways to do that must take into account how I show up for my professional goals, but also my personal goals.
Review and Hone My Messaging
In order to create the experiences I want, I need to be sure I am communicating them clearly. This is a process of identifying how I can best explain what I do, and who I want to reach. This year marked the 10-year anniversary of WeGrowMedia, and doing this work full time. Every single year, my messaging has evolved. Each year I learn more about who I am, how I am growing, who I want to connect with, and how my work can best help them.
So this quarter I will go through my website, social media profiles, podcast, and anywhere else I create, and adjust anything that has changed. Sometimes the changes are big, but often it is small detail work. Page by page, line by line, cutting away what doesn’t align in order to amplify what remains.
So much of this work is about removing distractions. Not because the things I am removing are “bad” but because they aren’t my highest priority. They are getting in the way of how I can best help the writers and creators who inspire me.
Some of this work is more strategic. Letting go of “big fun ideas” that will disrupt more important work. For instance, I paused the Mastermind that I run in 2020. All year I kept considering if and how I would relaunch it. But this quarter I’m considering alternatives. What if I put all of that focus into writing my next book? Or another project?
The uncluttering also happens in small ways. Cleaning off my computer desktop so it is empty. Cleaning out and reorganizing my Dropbox files. Unsubscribing from newsletters that I haven’t read in ages. Unfollowing people on social media.
I don’t mean for any of this to sound negative. But I want to be able to honor the limits of where I can put my attention. I want to turn on my computer, open email, go on social media, and feel focused. That there is ample room for the possibility of creating the connections, moments, and experiences I dream of having with writers and creators.
As I look ahead to next year, I want to feel focused and prepared. To create. To share. To connect. To engage with writers and creators who inspire me.