That thrilling free feeling of feeling free-wheeling

There is excitement in the air. I can’t tell if it’s because I’m ready for and looking forward to GLAM, because I’m ready for and looking forward to my annual Christmas/New Years/Family Birthday vacation, or because I’m ready for and looking forward to what I’m planning work-wise for next year.

I’ve been thinking about my plan for next year since October. I know a lot of thinkers and planners out there in the world call late December/early January the time to plan for next year (be it business-wise or personal) but I start thinking about what I want in the coming year around my birthday in October. Why? Birthdays, to me, straddle that line between looking backwards and looking forward. And one thing that 25 years in retail has taught me is that November and December are usually busy enough that clear-minded thinking doesn’t always get to happen in large enough doses to plan for an entire coming year. So I start thinking in October; reviewing the plan for the last year, judging it with hindsight, trying to be as honest as one can with oneself about what worked and what didn’t, thinking about how to apply more of what worked to the next year, and how to subtract more of what didn’t work.

Here are five things I’m not planning on doing as much of next year:

  1. Saying “yes” when I know full well I don’t have the time or mental/physical energy to do what is being asked of me (sure, I have to finish the swag for yarn club, get it all boxed up and mailed out, and do my quarterly sales taxes, all by the 10th… but I can totally take on that large custom order for 250 mugs for your college reunion due the same day!*).
  2. Running off on a tear when I get a baby bubble of an idea or a request for something grand but large and too time-sensitive, and don’t take the time and breath to think it through (what, what?! Bringing in three entire new lines of yarn at a fiber festival is a GREAT idea! I can totally pull that off in six weeks!).
  3. Be more harsh with discontinuing products that aren’t selling, even if they’re something I thought was a good idea at the time (be it yarn colorways, soap fragrances, or beloved adorable ceramics that just never sell).
  4. Waking up, starting with answering emails/messages before I’ve even finished the first cup of coffee, and going straight through all day until just before (or, vexing That Poor Man who has cooked for me, just *after*) dinnertime .
  5. Worrying about people who have asked me for information whom I then never hear back from when I ask them if they want to place a custom order (in fact, my entire custom order process is under review right now).

* completely random made-up thing I haven’t actually had a request for but you get the idea.

Here are five things I’m planning on doing more of next year:

  1. Sticking to my four-week rotating work schedule, which will consist of a week of soap, a week of yarn, a week of hand-built ceramics, and a week of slipcasting ceramics. Repeat indefinitely, sticking exactly to that and not letting one bleed over into the other.
  2. Being more honest with people about my turnaround times on custom orders, working within my four-week rotating schedule and my work load, with still taking into account their delivery needs.
  3. Waking up and starting with half an hour at my spinning wheel or my loom rather than my computer and my email.
  4. Stick to the schedule I’ve already plotted out for bringing in new (and some seasonal) products next year (I did this last year, gave up on it halfway through because I got behind in a few things, then tried to get ahead in a few other things, and it all sort of collapsed around me. Note to self: STICK TO THE PLAN.)
  5. Working more slowly, more methodically, being more present in the task rather than rushing through it to get to the next thing on my list.

What about you? When do you evaluate, either personally or for work? Yearly? Monthly? Daily? (Boy howdy do I wish I could shut that Daily Evaluation voice up!). Are you already thinking about next year?

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