For Success, Fulfillment and Happiness
This post first appeared on Natalie Franke’s blog.
I believe, at the end of the day, life should come before work – every. single. time.
When you learn how to be more efficient, simplify your systems, and work smarter, you’ll make more money and have more time for your family and friends, more time for yourself, and more time for whatever else sets your soul on fire.
And with that – today I want to talk to you about “Intentionally Designing Your Life and Business”
You’re going to learn:
- How to define your “non-negotiables” and what they are so you can say yes confidently to any decisions you need to make
- Why and how defining values in your life and business is essential to your happiness
- What I did the last 2 years in business to have the most clarity I’ve ever had when defining goals and priorities
- How to define your ideal lifestyle as a filter for your business
- How to set and achieve goals and priorities that bring you more fulfillment
- The one word you need to be saying more of.
There’s a lot of depth in this post, so to help guide you, I’ve created a free workbook for you to follow along:
With that- let’s get something straight. I think most of us become business owners for the same reasons.
- We want freedom from the 9-5
- We want to be passionate about our work every day
- We want to be able to spend more time with our families / kids / spouse / friends / dog / fill in the blank role ______.
But then what seems to happen is that we unintentionally swap our 9-5 jobs for a 24/7 one. And our “balance”, harmony, priorities and life values go out the window in favor of our to-do list.
Can we talk about how backwards that is?
I’m rewriting the script. I want you (and all of us) to be able to manage our to-do lists better so that we can swap them in favor of brunch dates, Sunday dinners, family adventures and a fulfilling life.
We’re going to talk about 6 steps to consciously design our lifestyle, so that we can then create a business that fits in with our lifestyle, and not a lifestyle that works around our business.
READY? Let’s dive in.
STEP 1: Figure out your “Non-Negotiables”
Your non-negotiables are anything you are not willing to give up because of your business. Defining these helps you create a filter for your work schedule, the things you say yes to (and when you say yes to them) so that you’re not overwhelming your schedule with dozens of different commitments that you’re regretting because that now means you don’t get that free weekend with your family.
Some of my non-negotiables are:
- Weekends that are not spent photographing weddings are spent with my boyfriend, family and friends. I do not shoot portrait sessions on the weekend, so my clients know that they need to schedule their sessions Monday-Thursday.
- Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays have no meetings. Fridays are for date nights and hanging out with Scott, Mondays and Wednesdays are work days. I try to schedule all meetings and client consultations on Tuesdays or Thursdays.
- Attending Tuesday’s Together meeting. Nothing gets calendar priority over this!
- No more than 3 portrait sessions a week.
Maybe yours is always having Sunday dinners with family, or going to church, or going to Bible study. Maybe it’s bringing your kids to school every morning and picking them up every afternoon. Maybe you really love the Bachelor and don’t want to take any Monday 8PM meetings (#guilty).
Whatever your non-negotiables are- figure them out, write them down, share them with your team if you have one so that everyone knows when things can and cannot be scheduled (including yourself!). This will define a whole new filter for your business so that you never regret your yeses.
Pro Tip: Tell others in your life (even non-team members) what your non-negotiables are so that you can be held accountable. Tell your significant other, spouse, best friends, etc. so they know to put their foot down and gently let you know when you’re slipping up. It’ll be so worth it.
STEP 2: Define your Values
The next thing to put in place and define is your values.
Your values, simply put, are the things that are most important to you. When we define our values personally and professionally, we can create another layer of filters for our life and business decisions. And when we make decisions that are consciously made to fit within our values, life suddenly becomes a whole lot happier.
I’ve defined my own values as such:
- Relationships (Boyfriend, Family, Friends)
- Self-Care (Reading, Gym, Walking, Massages)
- Adventure (Weekend trips, hiking, kayaking, paddle-boarding, travel)
- Community (Tuesday’s Together, The Fireside Tribe)
- Gratitude (Journaling)
- Freedom (Taking days + weeks off frequently to recharge and relax!)
- Balance (Feeling like I have harmony in my life and work)
- Passion (Waking up every day and feeling excited about what I do)
- Learning + Teaching (Always trying to grow and help others grow through education- reading, podcasts, courses, masterminds, coaching, etc.)
And I came up with them by answering a few key questions:
- When, in my life, am I the most happy?
- When am I most fulfilled?
- Who, in my life brings me the most joy, fulfillment, love, support?
- What are the things that are most important to me in my life, that I’d want to remain if everything in my business crumbled?
- What things do I miss when I find myself working too much?
- What things do I crave as a staple in my life?
Once you know your values, I encourage you to write them down in a place you frequently see. (Mine are literally on my website and thus, ingrained in my brain) and now I’m able to consciously make decisions based around my values. This results in a much greater confidence when I make decisions, as well as clarity, fulfillment and satisfaction in both my personal life, and work.
Pro Tip: Once you have defined what your values are, make sure you put them into your schedule so you’re actually making time for them! My schedule literally has times blocked off for: Date night, personal time, reading, gym classes, massages, Tuesday’s Together meetings, my morning routine, and learning (personal growth).
Step 3: Choose a “Word of the Year” and “Phrase of the Year”
This has become a common trend in recent year and I have loved doing this the past two years. On January 1, on top of defining my yearly goals and intentions, I choose a word of the year and phrase of the year.
In 2016, my word was “Intentional” and my phrase was “Collect moments, not things”. This resulted in me systematizing my entire business so I could be intentional with my time, intentional in my relationships, intentional in my self-care, etc. My phrase resulted in way more adventures and trips and date nights and activities and way more fun Christmas presents with my boyfriend because we made an effort to spend our money on things we could do together, rather than purchase unnecessary material items. (My personal spending also went WAY down which was a huge bonus!)
Setting these words and phrases also helped my define my goals for my business.
In 2017, my words were growth + impact and my phrase was “get out of your comfort zone”
This became a filter for my business goals which were to grow my newsletter list, pitch to guest blogs and podcasts to expand my audience and have a greater impact, plan my first educational workshop and retreat (coming in 2018!), host my first webinar, launch a second business and an online shop, and apply to speak at certain conferences. While not every goal was achieved this year, it really pushed me to focus on the things that would bring the most growth to my business and impact to my audience.
Step 4: Define Your Ideal Lifestyle
After setting these personal and business boundaries, values, non-negotiables and motivations, I think it’s important to define what your ideal lifestyle is! Ask yourself some questions to better define what this looks like.
- How much time do you want to work each week?
- Do you want to take time off this year? How much?
- What relationships are important for you to pour into?
- What personal things do you want to account for this year? Buying a house? Becoming a parent? Going on a vacation?
Define what your ideal lifestyle looks like so you can have a parameter for what goals to set and strive for in your personal and professional life.
If you want to work 25 hours a week as a wedding photographer, then one of your goals might be to hire an editor or outsource the things you don’t need to be doing personally!
If you want to take a month long sabbatical, mark it on the calendar and then don’t book any projects that month! Prep the months ahead to get your content taken care of in your leave of absence.
If you want to buy a house, you might have a year of a little more hustle than usual to hit the income you need for your down payment and to live comfortably. Answering these questions will help you define your income and business goals while still having harmony with your life.
I think sometimes we believe that a dream life and a dream career aren’t possible at the same time, when in reality, if we can live by design, in both our life and business, we can be fulfilled and find harmony in all areas of our life.
Step 5: Set Your Goals and Priorities
Once you have your non-negotiables, your values, and your word/phrase figured out, and you’ve defined your ideal lifestyle, it’ll be time to start setting your goals (personally and professionally), and with that, which ones are going to be a priority.
So to set your goals, I recommend using everything you’ve determined above as a filter.
If you said a non-negotiable is spending every weekend with your family, then shooting 35 weddings a year might not be a good fit.
If working 25 hours a week is a lifestyle goal you want to strive for, then consider one of your goals to be building a team to handle some of the maintenance of your business.
If one of your values is community, consider joining or leading one in an area you feel called to.
If self-care is a priority, make sure you’re scheduling time at the gym or time to read or do things for your mind, body and soul.
Then once you set your goals, break them down into actionable steps by following this process:
- Set yearly business goals based on your word or phrase of the year
- Consider your non-negotiables, values, lifestyle design, and priorities when setting these goals.
- Set income goals
- Consider the accomplishments and big picture items you want to do, buy, acquire this year.
- Make sure you account for all the income you need in order for your business to run.
- Account for all the fixed living costs you have.
- Set personal goals
- Consider your non-negotiables, values, lifestyle design, and priorities when setting these goals.
- Break these yearly goals into monthly or quarterly goals
- Break your monthly goals into weekly goals
- Break your weekly goals into daily goals
- Break your daily goals into tasks and subtasks.
By following this process, your to-do list will be the things that moves the needle towards your larger goals and a more fulfilled, happy and successful life and business.
Wondering where the heck to start? GOOD NEWS. If you missed the memo up there or skimmed down here, I’ve created a free workbook for you to figure all of this out! I gotchu.
“Intentionally Designing Your Life and Business for Success, Happiness and Fulfillment.”
Step 6: Say No
Once you’ve got the above steps in place, the only thing left is to get moving on those goals of yours and say a gentle NO to the things that don’t align with everything you’ve determined above.
Say NO when someone asks you to shoot their portrait session on a Sunday evening if you really love family dinners on Sunday.
Say NO when someone asks you if you can complete their website project in a week and you know you already have to much client work to stay working a comfortable amount of hours.
Say NO when you plan to take a sabbatical in July and someone asks you if you can squeeze their project in.
I promise you, when you say no to the things that aren’t HECK YES, you will be so much happier because of it. It’s okay to say no to good things so you can leave room in your life to say yes to great things.
I hope you enjoyed this post! I can’t wait to see how you intentionally design your life and business! Don’t forget to download your workbook. And then hop on over to Instagram and say hi @lauraleecreative and tell me one non-negotiable in your life!
Here’s to less work and more life, Friend!