Every December, I love to do a year-end assessment of my life and plan for the new year ahead. In the past, that’s meant looking at some metrics and reflecting on how I feel. If I hit a certain number in revenue — “it was a good year” — keep going. If I was feeling exhausted — “it was a busy year” — so I better ease up.
But at the end of 2019, I decided to do things differently. Instead of relying on my gut instinct alone — something I would never suggest a client do in their business, so why would I in my life? — I did a deep dive into my calendar. My calendar has all of my work deadlines, travel, meetings, and social commitments in one place. It’s literally a treasure trove of data!
So, I rolled up my sleeves and dug in! In true Southpaw style, I used qualitative and quantitative techniques and did a full analysis of my year. If I was going to deem 2019 a good year, I wanted to know it really was a good year, and not just that I was only remembering the good times. And, if I was making business plans based on the idea that it had been too busy a year, I wanted to see it had been a busy year, and not just a busy December (red flag: recency bias).
My analysis went like this:
1. First, I created the topline report. I scrolled through my calendar and wrote down my high level impressions about what stood out in each month: what was I doing a lot of, what important things happened, what was glaring in its absence.
2. Then, I looked for patterns. I went through my summary and coded everything into categories: travel, new clients, family time, self-care, and so on. Looking at the year as a map, I saw some really interesting patterns about where I spent my time and energy.
3. Third, I drilled down into the calendar again and counted up things that I thought would help me quantitatively assess how I spent my time and energy. For me, this was number of flights (34) and nights spent away from home (118), as well as number of arts and culture events attended (10) and number of new clients won (8).
4. Next, I went through the calendar with a different take, this time trying to vividly remember each month and how I felt. There were months where the events in my calendar reminded me that I had felt anxious or sad or exhausted, and months where I felt calm and happy. This exercise wasn’t the most pleasant, but it forced me to look at the correlation between two variables: how I felt and how I spent my time.
5. Lastly, I was able to make actionable plans and resolutions for the new year about what I wanted to do and what I needed to stop doing — that, most importantly, were based on real, hard facts.
Our gut instinct is great, but it’s not always enough. Plus, the confidence that comes along with making a data-backed decision is energizing and inspiring: I’m still committed to my resolutions in the first week of February!
When it comes down to it, I want the same for you — the ability to feel confident, make smart decisions and get results. So, hit reply and tell me: what important decisions are you facing right now in your business? I’d love to hear. And, I’d love to talk about how our team of Southpaws can dig into the research so that you can feel confident and make some data-backed decisions.