Redefining a successful day
If you're feeling defeated today, like another week was wasted, pouring endless time into avenues that never seem to pay off – I want you to know that I am right there with you. I'm not one of those stories of hitting $100k in my first three months of business. While those stories are inspiring, that's just not the experience of many of us and often feels unhelpful for where we're at. Because what about when it's a slow and gradual effort and some weeks are busy and profitable – and some leave you feeling like a failure?
After a particularly long week with more disappointments, I'd finally had enough.
"Success" is the most elusive thing we can chase. It truly is only based our own definitions – so heck, I was going to choose how I defined it! When I see others lives and businesses and mark it in my mind as success, I'm comparing, idolizing, and setting myself up for discouragement. Because I can probably bet you – you can be making $100k and still feel like a failure or be traveling the world and still be disappointed. Fill in the blank!
So I boiled it down to my core values. Your core values don't need to be a formal list inscribed in a business plan. Just ask yourself – what is most important to me? What will make my life and my work count? What is more rewarding than money?
Let this define what your successful day looks like!
I scribbled down three things that immediately came to mind:
1. Connect with someone.
2. Share something valuable.
3. Create something beautiful.
These are a simple summary of the things that bring me the most joy, both in business and in my personal life. Because my work is so interspersed with grocery runs, lunch dates, book clubs, and other happenings (which is a GIFT and never something you should guilt yourself over), I wanted core values that applied to either sphere. So that if all I got done was coffee with a friend, some photo editing, and making dinner for my husband, I could fight that disappointing voice inside and remember – I connected with someone, I shared my time and my talents, I created beautiful images that I get to share with my client and beautiful food to share with my husband.
Immediately, a simple day turned into something incredibly meaningful and delightful!
To begin incorporating these themes into every day, I quickly made a simple desktop background so these would be written reminders as I work. And I created a weekly planner in Google Sheets to help me prioritize what's important and choose to mark each day a success.
I wanted to share the weekly planner with you as a small tool to help you not only be organized but to feel wildly successful and excited about each week and day of your life!
This is especially perfect if you already regularly use Google Drive for your business and are eager to consolidate your systems. I was tired of investing in annual planners and, as much as I love writing things down, it just wasn't with me whenever I needed it, and I forgot to revisit each day.
So this Google Sheets planner has been life changing for me! I share some tips for maximizing it for your workflow and business in the video below.
A few key features of the weekly planner:
1. Top Three
After hearing from countless resources that the key to productivity is to NARROW DOWN, this tool offers a system for prioritizing and deciding at the beginning of the day (ideally before even checking email) what the most important things for today are. Sometimes these are big and quantifiable, sometimes they're boring jobs that just need to get done. But either way, when you do accomplish them, it brings great joy knowing that was what you set out to do! This helps me see that a day really was successful!
The Quarter Rocks section at the bottom is to keep your quarterly goals and priorities front and center. Those are the things that you work at all quarter that are strategic to help you reach your yearly goals. Make sure your Top Three are helping you peck away at those long term goals. We're aiming for important and valuable, not necessarily urgent and fun. Not sure what goes in the Quarter Rocks section? Here are a couple articles from Entrepreneurial Operating System: Issues, To-Dos, and Rocks & Rocks for All.
2. Core Values
As I mentioned above, keeping these at the center of my planning helps motivate me and helps me choose what to prioritize in my Top Three. These keep me on target – edit them to match your values!
This part is easy when I'm viewing my days and weeks through the lens of my core values. When I connect with people, I always leave grateful for their time, their friendship, their encouragement. When I share with people, through hosting, photographing, writing, I'm grateful to grow and learn and see relationships develop. And I'm always grateful for the beauty around me that I get to channel into the work I create.
Listing what I'm grateful for throughout the week also gives me a lovely recap of my week that is fun to revisit as I'm reviewing my quarter or year.
I hope and pray this is helpful for you – that you would choose to love the life you have right now instead of chasing an evasive standard set by everyone else.
As Annie Dillard aptly put it: "How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives."