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You can’t afford to skip THIS ONE THING when setting your goals for business and life

by Michaela fong

Podcast

You can’t afford to skip THIS ONE THING when setting your goals for business and life

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I'm MICHAELA!

I am a small European town gal with big dreams who immigrated to Canada and built a multi-six-figure business from my living room floor and kitchen counter! I accidentally grew it into a small business community and became a small business educator along the way.

Now am here to empower, teach & inspire you to grow your business and create the life of your dreams with strategy, confidence & without burnout.

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You can’t afford to skip THIS ONE THING when setting your goals for business and life - Small Biz Babes Community Podcast

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It’s that time of the year again when everyone is in goal-planning mode. We often get caught up writing down ambitious goals with the whole “New Year, New Start” excitement that we often forget the most important part of successful goal setting: REFLECTION.

Without reflection, setting goals can feel like a mechanical exercise — just a list of to-do’s without the heart and soul that make them worth pursuing. Without reflection, goals become empty targets. Because when we don’t take a moment to pause, see where we are, what got us here, what we could’ve done differently, what held us back, and where we need to reprioritize how we spend our time and money…it’s hard to set meaningful goals. 

Reflection helps you define which goals REALLY matter to you and gives you the motivation to turn them into reality!

I practice mini-reflection…

  • Daily in my journal 
  • Weekly when I’m planning out my weeks
  • Monthly when I’m creating a mood board for the upcoming month
  • Aaand at the end of the year to look back on the progress I made and all the beautiful memories I created 

And today, I’m sharing this mini-reflection process with you so you can set meaningful goals in 2024 and define what you need to make them happen. Here’s the plan: I’ll guide you through the process, and you can download a sheet with all the reflection questions to fill out for yourself here.

So, make a date with yourself! Brew some tea, throw on your comfy sweatpants, or light a candle. Heck, maybe even treat yourself to dinner at your favourite restaurant — this is your time! Do whatever it takes to have a quiet moment with yourself to reflect on your year.

Choosing your key areas that matter most to you 

I don’t know about you, but I like to break down my goals based on the different areas that matter in my life. Then, when it’s time to reflect, I focus on each of these areas to define the actions I can take to make progress on them.

So, as I’m looking at my planner, these are the key areas I set goals for: 

  1. Health
  2. Family & Relationships
  3. Business
  4. Finances
  5. Travel

Each of these areas has a big impact on my quality of life, my overall happiness, and how I spend my days. For your reflection, start by listing the areas that are most important to you and where you want to focus more in the future.

Now for the fun part — answering the reflection questions!

I’ll share the questions I ask myself for each of these areas. You can then use these questions to guide your own reflection, or maybe they’ll inspire you to come up with your own questions. Either way, this exercise will help you uncover your priorities and make a difference in the goals you set moving forward. 

Alright, let’s start with #1: health.

Health

Here are questions I reflect on when it comes to health: 

  • How would I rate my health for this year? Did I face any health challenges?
  • How did I manage my stress levels? On most days, did I generally feel stressed or did I feel at peace?  What did I do to manage my stress and how can I manage my stress better next year? 
  • How was my sleep quality? Did I get 7-8 hours of sleep at night? Is my current sleep routine and evening routine supportive of quality rest? 
  • Did I maintain a regular exercise routine or did I skip workouts due to poor time management and prioritization?
  • How were my eating habits this year? Did I resort to emotional eating because of stress or poor meal planning? How about my drinking habits? 

These might be tough questions to answer because, let’s face it, chances are most of us won’t have a perfect report card. But remember, perfection isn’t the goal here. That’s why we’re doing reflection in the first place! 

We’re not here to judge ourselves. We want to identify where we might’ve set unrealistic goals (like working out 5x a week) that we couldn’t stick to. So instead, we can aim for smaller, doable changes in our daily and weekly routines to reach important goals, like staying healthy and strong. 


For example:
When I started my business, I used to put myself last, neglecting self-care and my health. I poured every hour into my business, often sacrificing workouts and sleep. I worked every single day, ate wine with chips as emotional stress relief on the weekends, and never took time to recharge my batteries. For a while, it felt like I was on a rollercoaster I couldn’t get off of. I was burnt out and exhausted which had a huge affect on my stress levels and fertility.

But thanks to the reflection I did two years ago toward the end of that year, I was able to face the facts. I had to accept that my days weren’t going to get any longer — there are only 24 hours in a day and that’s all we get.

If I didn’t change how I prioritize my time, I’d always leave workouts until the end of the day and put myself last. I was the one who filled my schedule and made all the commitments, and therefore, I was the one who had to make a change. You can absolutely do the same!

Now, let’s dive into reflection questions for your business

Business

Here are questions I reflect on when it comes to business: 

  • What work-related accomplishments or milestones in my business am I proud of?
  • Which parts of my business do I enjoy the most?
  • Which parts of my business do I not enjoy anymore?
  • How happy am I with my work-life balance, and what parts could use some improvement?
  • Did I set boundaries between work and personal life, or did I find myself constantly juggling both, feeling stretched thin and not fully present in either?
  • What strategies did I use this year to manage my time effectively? What worked? What  needs improvement?
  • Did I delegate tasks and seek help or did I get stuck trying to do everything myself? If so, what are the tasks I need help with?
  • Did I invest in business education to enhance my skills and expertise? If so, did I implement what I learned? What were the results? 
  • How satisfied am I with my current financial situation? Where am I wasting time in my business that doesn’t bring any results?
  • Did I achieve the financial goals I set for my business? If not, why?
  • Which parts of my business — which products, services, clients, or marketing methods — bring the most profit?
  • Does my business align with the long-term vision and values I have for my life, or does it need adjustments to stay on course? 

Again, these are not easy questions to answer. They may take some time to think about. But they’ll help you decide what to prioritize in your business based on what excites you and makes the most financial sense. They’ll also help you leave behind things in your business that no longer bring you joy or adjust your business structure to fit your big-picture life goals.

In my own journey a year ago through reflection, I realized that I truly want more freedom from my business.

So instead of piling on more opportunities to make more money, I tried to figure out how I could let go of some of my current commitments to gain more freedom back.

See, if you’re already stretched thin with your time, adding more opportunities, products, or marketing won’t magically create more freedom. You need to change how you make decisions in your business, where you put your time and focus, define your #1 source of profit, and create systems so YOU can create more freedom. 

Okay, moving on to the next set of reflection questions: family & relationships. 

Family & Relationships

Here are questions I reflect on when it comes to family & relationships: 

  • Did I make time for quality time with my family on a daily and weekly basis?
  • Was I present for important events with my family and friends? Did I make the most of those moments with them? 
  • Did I manage to keep work stress separate from my personal life and have meaningful conversations with my loved ones that made them feel heard?
  • Did I make an effort to nurture my most important relationships by connecting and spending quality time with my friends and family?
  • How well did I balance family responsibilities with my business commitments throughout the year? 
  • What are the little things I can do better to make my family feel loved and supported? 
  • Is my business aligned with my family life and my long-term vision?
  • Are there any adjustments I need to make in how I manage my work to be more present for my family in the future? 

Just thinking about these questions can help you identify liiiitle changes that have a big impact on the quality and quantity of time you spend with your loved ones.

For example:

One thing I realized after reflection was that I don’t want to talk to my mom about work when I call her. Instead, I want to listen to her, be there for her, and in general, have more meaningful conversations with her instead. 

I also decided to call my grandpa more frequently (3x a week, instead of 1x a week), because I know he won’t be around forever. Setting reminders and taking 10-15 minutes to call him not only brightens his day, but it’s a little thing I can do to show that someone is always thinking of him. Finally, reflection made me aware that I don’t want to talk about work with my husband during dinner. 

You see, without reflection and setting boundaries, work and personal life blend together too much, and often work spills over.

Of course, it will take practice. But it’s the small changes that help us set more intentional goals and make a real difference in our lives.

On to the next set of reflection questions: finances!

Finances

Here are questions I reflect on when it comes to finances: 

  • Did I set financial goals at the beginning of the year? Did I have an action plan to achieve them? Did I achieve them, and if not, what went wrong? 
  • Was I able to make regular contributions to my retirement accounts and stay on track with my retirement goals? If not, what changes will I need to make in the future to reach them? Do I need to earn more? Set more realistic goals? 
  • Did I have a budget for my personal and family expenses, and did I stick to it throughout the year?
  • How did I do with my personal savings for this year? Did I have a savings routine in place for setting money aside regularly? 
  • What was the best investment I made this year? And what was the complete waste of money — for personal life and business?
  • Was I overspending on little things like impulsively buying cleaning gadgets on Amazon while watching cleaning videos on TikTok? (I’m with you on that one — seriously, they make it waaaay too easy to shop for cleaning supplies from the comfort of your sofa!)

Now, back when I first started my business, I didn’t have a financial plan. But again, thanks to reflection, I realized I needed one! 

Having a financial plan helps us organize our finances, budget effectively, and save for things that really matter like travel, our home, education, retirement, taxes, and growing our businesses. 

Finances are also an important part of reflection not just at the end of the year, but throughout the year too. It allows us to take a close look at our financial habits, learn from our successes and mistakes, and adjust our plans as we go, so we can be proactive about our financial well-being. 

The last area I like to look at for reflection is travel. 

Travel

I didn’t always prioritize the things that made me feel happy and alive. When I first started my business, it was almost like I treated all my personal dreams as “work”. Planning trips felt like a chore, not to mention all the prep I had to do before and afterward to take the time off. But after a few years, I felt empty. Something needed to change.

My family lives in Europe, so visiting them at least once a year is a top priority. Going on couples’ vacations with my husband is a priority for me too. That’s why setting travel goals a year ahead gives me something short-term to look forward to.

Sure, they may not happen 100% of the time, but if my husband and I don’t put them on the calendar, life would get too busy. It’s easy to get distracted with small trips, responsibilities, and other events here and there, and miss out on the trips that truly matter to us.

For you, it might not be travel. It could be a sport, art, or anything that brings you happiness. Whatever it is, make sure to schedule it in your calendar so you always set time aside for the things you love.

Now, let’s get into those reflection questions:

  • Did I make time for my personal travel goals this year, or did they take a backseat to my business commitments?
  • Did I get to go to all the places I wanted to visit or take the trips I really wanted to? If not, why?
  • Did I allocate a specific budget for personal travel and did I stick to it? 
  • What were my favourite travel memories and experiences I’d like to have more of? 
  • Which type of trips I would like to limit in the future?
  • What destinations do I want to visit in the future? With who? 

Thanks to this reflection, my husband and I realized we wanted to cut back on short weekend trips that often left us feeling more exhausted than recharged. 

Because we saved time and money by cutting back on weekend trips, we’re now going on a 3-week vacation to Europe and a couples’ trip to Paris! I’m so excited to reflect on these questions from 2023 and plan out even more travel adventures for next year. 

What goals will you write down for next year? 

What will you make more time for? What will you stop doing? If you’ve read this far, shoot me a DM on Instagram because I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Now, I know we’ve covered a lot today, so here’s a quick recap of your next steps: make sure to download the reflection sheet right after you finish reading this blog. And don’t forget to schedule a quiet hour in your calendar when you can have a date with yourself for your yearly reflection.

I wish you the most magical holiday season and hope you take some time for yourself during the holidays too! 

If you want more tips on how to reflect on this past year and set goals with intention for next year, tune in to today’s podcast episode here 🎧

Talk soon,

Michaela

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