It's a new year and if you're like a lot of spiritual entrepreneurs, you're probably reflecting on the past year and working on setting business goals for the new year. These are two processes where the mindset we approach them with can greatly impact the outcome. It's important to bring the right mindset to your reflection and goal setting process.
Reflecting on the past year with Beginner's Mind
Reflecting on the past year is an important part of preparing to set business goals. But when you reflect on the past year, how you approach it can have a huge impact on how useful it is to you going forward. When it comes to negative experiences, in particular, it's natural to assume that you know why the outcome wasn't what you had wanted. But knowing and learning are processes. When we're open to learning, part of that process also means releasing past learning. Think about it this way, when you look at a past experience and say, "I know!, I know!" what you're really doing is shutting down any deeper reflection.
When you approach reflecting on the past year from Beginner's Mind, you open yourself to new opportunities that the past can reveal. I've talked about Beginner's Mind before but as a review, Beginner's Mind is a state of mind in which you release what you believe you know in order to look at something with a fresh perspective. One of the hallmarks of Beginner's Mind is curiosity. If you find yourself reflecting on the past year and instead of judgments, you're genuinely curious what you can learn from it or what would happen if you did something differently, you're using Beginner's Mind.
How expectations, blame, fears, and judgments colour our reflection on the past
When you look at the past from something other than Beginner's Mind, your expectations, blame, fears and judgments creep in. When you are reflecting on the past year and focus too heavily on the things that didn't turn out as you expected, you may miss out on seeing new opportunities. Maybe the situation was better than you expected. Maybe there's something you could do differently that would not only bring you closer to what you expected but would be an even better outcome.
When reflecting on the past year, you may also be making judgments and assumptions around the motivations and behaviours of other people. Without really knowing what's behind someone's actions, you may be filling in the blanks for them. In most case, you're probably not having a conversation with them to truly know what was behind their actions. In making judgments, you're missing an opportunity to learn from that interaction and show up in an even bigger way in your spiritual business.
In this episode, I mentioned a time that a couple of other coaches and I were complaining to one another about people signing up for a waitlist and then telling us they couldn't afford the program. Because we were not using Beginner's Mind, we could only feel annoyed about this rather than seeing it as an opportunity. People signed up for the waitlist. That meant something about what we were offering spoke to them. Looking at it with Beginner's Mind, I can see this more as an opportunity to create something else that might be more affordable while addressing the same issue or problem in a different way.
Showing grace to others and yourself
The other aspect of reflecting on the past year and particularly, our interactions with other people, is that it's sometimes easy to assume ill-intent from others. When you do this, rather than talking with the other person, you get out of Beginner's Mind. You make decisions related to that relationship or connection based on incomplete information. Instead, you should show grace to others and approach the situation from a place of not knowing but being open to learning. One of my teachers put it this way: "Seek to understand first and to be understood second".
Sometimes, you also need to show grace to yourself. It can be easy to make judgments about your own actions and motivations. You may be beating yourself up that you didn't complete a project or that you dropped the ball on something. But what else was going on? Maybe you needed to rest, or you had too much on your plate. Show yourself grace while reflecting on the past year.
Spiritual business goal setting
After reflecting on the past year, you're probably wanting to set some business goals for the new year. When I worked in the software industry, I'd often take part in goal setting meetings. The traditional business method of goal setting is often very focused on revenue and the bottom line. The company decides they want to grow revenue by a certain percentage and profits by a certain percentage and all the other goals are based on that percentage increase of revenue and profit.
Of course, as spiritual entrepreneurs, we do things a little differently. First of all, while everyone of us has bills to pay, our primary focus isn't on growing revenue by a percentage. It's on the impact that our business has on other people and the world. If you've arrived at goal setting for your spiritual business and finding that your goals are primarily around hitting a dollar amount, it may be time to revisit your goal setting process.
SMART goals and intentions
One of the most popular goal setting techniques is SMART which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. SMART goals should definitely make up part of your spiritual business goals. (This guide from Asana describes setting SMART goals in the context of work and business.) These can be things like completing the online course you're building by a certain date, gaining a number of followers on social media, and yes, even hitting a certain revenue by a certain date.
But, as I've said before, sometimes the intention behind the goal is as important as the goal. Let me give you an example, you might have set a SMART goal around getting a number of followers. But why do you want that number of followers? What's your expectation? Followers won't automatically translate into sales so you may have an expectation around that goal which will leave you feeling disappointed. But if your intention is to create connections and relationships with your followers, that's very different. Followers that you actually interact with and create connections with will be more likely to translate into sales.
Bottom line here, when doing your goal setting, dig into what your intentions for the next year are. Then set goals that support that intention but keep your focus on the intention more than the goal.
Reconnect with your big "Why"
I have one final thought around goal setting as a spiritual entrepreneur. If you've found yourself focused on revenue as your primary goal (or something else), you may have disconnected from your big "why". As a spiritual entrepreneur, you went into this business for a reason. You may have felt a spiritual calling, or you had a desire to share a spiritual gift to help others. This underlying deeper reason that you started your spiritual business is your big "why". And let's be honest, if your goal was to make a lot of money, there are plenty of quicker and easier ways to do so.
This is important because ultimately, your big "why" is what is going to change the world. As part of my goal setting process, I always set aside some time to remind myself of my big "why". Then as I set each goal in my business, I take a moment to really think about whether this goal is advancing my big "why".
Reflecting on the past year and goal setting for the new year can be a stressful process sometimes. But if you look back on your past experience with Beginner's Mind and focus on your big "why" when goal setting, you will continue to build a spiritual business that nurtures and supports you while changing the world.
Spiritual entrepreneurs set goals a little differently than traditional businesses.
Between reflecting on the previous year and setting intentions for the next, it’s important not to make assumptions about where we failed, what our clients want, or what we ‘should’ do next, but instead approach reflection with a beginner's mindset and stay curious about how your business can develop in the new year. Let’s take a look at the perspective shifts that will help you to move forward with grace and exploration in your business to bring greater value and more revenue in 2023.
Here’s what we’ll be covering:
- Looking at the past through a lens of grace
- Looking forward to the next year with an open mind
- Why making assumptions will close your possibilities
- Approaching reflection with a beginner's mind and curiosity
- Why you shouldn’t not jumping to conclusions
- Finding opportunities where negative outcomes once were
- Setting goals for the next year and taking action towards achieving them
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