In days of yore, I had a pretty bad relationship with business plans and goal-setting. That’s not because I’m poorly motivated or disinterested in achievement – on the contrary, I’m an overachiever who loves ticking off lists.

I think my dislike for these formal goal-setting processes was the result of clumsily-executed hard-sales business plans I felt compelled to complete, under the watchful gaze of blokey employers who wanted me to write down my ‘BHAGs’. Yes, that’s right: my Big, Hairy Audacious Goals. (Yick.) Which (quelle suprise!) were usually expected to be doubling my income and getting myself into stupid debt over achievement holidays and European cars. How profoundly demotivating. Little wonder I rejected the corporate world and went out on my own, where no-one would force their BHAGs upon me. Literally or figuratively.
Currently, I’m in the thick of a rather beautiful summer holiday – much of which has been spent creating in-depth business plans and personal goals with the help of multiple tools. Eight years into Ruby Assembly, I now view business planning and personal goal-setting as the firm foundation upon which to pack a life full of ‘yes’! As my business grows, these tools help guide me towards balance and away from excessive labour on my enterprise. They’re the ‘big rocks’ around which I can build daily momentum, without worrying I’ll forget my own personal desires and wellness. As your own enterprise or role grows, it’s easy to become lost in the whirr of activity – which can often lead to achievement, but can also leave you depleted and without a robust narrative for your year. Here are some of the tools I’ve used to create a 2017 full of life, achievement, success and rest.
My Shining Biz and My Shining Life: Leonie Dawson
Leonie Dawson ‘My Shining Biz’ and ‘My Shining Life’ planners look woo-woo and hippy-as-shit. Don’t let the aesthetic of these marvellous business tools put you off. When I first saw these cottage-craft, Steiner-ish, watercolor-infused Goddess tomes, I hopped on my judgey normcore high horse. What could some daggy Wicca-looky life planners do for me? I don’t wear patchouli anymore. These people are not my people. However, having read the reviews of Leonie’s Biz and Life planners, I thought it worth taking a punt on – and at least they were the antithesis of the ‘BHAG’ worksheets which had been forced upon me in the past.
This is the second year I’ve undertaken the Leonie Dawson planners, and I can’t recommend them to you enough. The Biz one in particular, which makes you focus intensely  on your essential numbers, your products, your support, your education as a business person and on concrete goals. They might look like fluffy guides – let me assure you, they’re anything but. I’m certain that my use of Leonie’s books contributed to my highly successful 2016, and have been able to look back with pride at the changes I’ve made, challenges I’ve risen to and business I’ve grown courtesy of her guide.
The Desire Map: Danielle LaPorte
A couple of years ago, a kind colleague in my coworking space offered my a copy of Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map. I took it home and began to read it. It grated on me. It felt so American, so ungrateful and so ‘Eat. Pray. Love’. Eugh. It wasn’t for me at that time.
Funny how life changes your perspective and opens you up to the new when it’s needed, doesn’t it? I picked up LaPorte’s popular ‘The Desire Map’ tool in December and fell in love with it. It had been sitting on my shelf, waiting for me. In many ways the antithesis of Dawson’s goal-led planning, ‘The Desire Map’ focuses instead on how we’d like best to feel as individuals. Sometimes the trappings of achievement don’t make you feel the way you imagine once they’re been achieved. (Like those BHAGs I hated, with the cars and expensive holidays.) Or sometimes you feel bullied into desiring certain things because they’re meant to make you feel the way you’d like. What if you could just skip all that, and go straight to enjoying the feeling you desire? Certainly more woo-wooey than Leonie Dawson, LaPorte’s planner is a personal undertaking which focuses on the essential you, and ways to stoke and sate your desires. I’m doing her ‘What I Will Do To Feel The Way I Want To Feel’ Daily Planner in tandem with ‘The Desire Map’, which is a wonderful counterpoint and daily way to check in with your feelings. Our feelings guide us to better decisions (in life, in business) and more earnest conversations. I’ve really enjoyed this book, and have an inkling you might too.

JOM : Wellineux
Discovered at last year’s Business Chicks’ 9-to-Thrive event, the Journey of Me (JOM) by Wellineux is a hefty little lifestyle workbook you could undertake at any point in the year. I still haven’t finished mine, but have enjoyed dipping into it from time to time. It’s an eight-month discovery tool which assists you to focus on your happiness across all the major sectors of life: Discovery, Rest, Nutrition, Resources, Mind, Growth, Movement and Connection. Full of Instagram-worthy images and quotes, it has exercises and tasks which help you to investigate your motivations and passions. Just the thing for taking on a solo-cation, or enjoying as part of a mental health day, it’s no business planner, but it could easily be the first step on your woo-woo train to business planning and personal goal-setting without the cringe.
Wishing you a 2017 on your terms, planned joyfully with a close ear to your feelings and desires.