2017 was a pretty major year for me because I took the very scary risk of leaving my successful and comfortable career in retail management to work from home. I’m proud of myself for finally doing it, but I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been moments of struggle, frustration, and weakness. I went from doing something I’m really good at, something I dedicated 15 years of my life to, and walked away to start something entirely different. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely confident that I made the right decision … but now I’m starting from the ground up again, building a new reputation in a new industry, with a new purpose.
So I guess you could say 2017 was the year of making necessary changes … taking a leap of faith and chasing my dreams. Which now means 2018 has to be the year of growth.
I took the leap, I made the change … now it’s time to do what I always did best in retail management: Identify issues, make changes, and then succeed.
Analyze Past Performance
The first thing I always did when taking over a new store or business in retail was to look a the past performance of that business to determine what changes can be made immediately (today) to impact the efficiency and productivity of the business.
Taking this same approach and applying it to my life working from home, there are several things I can identify that will improve my performance immediately:
- More structured sleeping schedule: I want to go to bed and wake up on a more regulated schedule. Right now it’s kind of all over the board– sometimes I go to bed at 3am and wake up at 8:30am, and other times I go to bed at 11:30pm and wake up at 7am. Lacking structure in this area makes it hard to stick to any kind of routine, and makes me feel less productive on the days when I get a later start. Plus, some days I’m way more tired than others and we all know what that does for productivity! (No bueno.) Thus, I will be setting a bedtime and wake-time for myself Monday-Friday.
- Starting my day with Jesus: There have been several days when I have been able to squeeze in a morning devotional before I do anything else for the day. Those days are HANDS DOWN my favorite, and most productive days. It makes me feel better, think more clearly, and begin my day with a grateful heart. I think by creating more structure in my morning routine, it will be easier to devote a portion of my morning to Jesus each day.
- Getting dressed: I know this sounds silly, but when you work from home it’s really hard to find the motivation to actually put on real clothes, do your hair, and look decent for the day. I cannot tell you how seldom this happens for me, and much of it stems from the fact that my mornings get away from me when I get a late start, so I feel like there’s no time for getting dressed since it’s not a “necessity” when you don’t plan to leave the house. BUT, on the days when I do take time to put on real clothes, do my hair, and apply some makeup, I feel like a #TotalBoss, and I walk with a little more haste and intention. Does that make sense? Maybe not to everyone. But it does to me!
Set Big-Picture Goals (and then break them down into smaller, manageable goals)
After finding and eliminating all minor problems and replacing them with solutions that would have an immediate impact on the efficiency and performance of a store or business that I took over in my retail management career, I then determined what my bigger plans were for the business.
This is when I would really dig deep into understanding all aspects of the business. I would look objectively at every member of staff to determine strengths and weaknesses, I reviewed the annual sales plan and compared it to our merchandise assortment and allocation to determine if our inventory levels could really substantiate those plans or if I needed to put on my entrepreneurial hat and find a way to drive additional business so we could actually achieve those numbers. I identified the areas where I knew we were going to struggle, and then pin-pointed areas of surplus that I knew could offset that deficit.
Sometimes the Big-Picture Goal (sales plan, in the instance of retail management) seemed FAR FETCHED. But when I really broke down each metric, and then broke each metric down by month, by week, and even by day, the bigger picture suddenly seemed attainable. This same exact approach can be applied to every aspect of our life, personally or professionally. These are a few goals that Eric and I have set for ourselves in 2018 using the same concept of taking a big goal, and breaking it down into smaller, manageable (and trackable) pieces:
- Full conversion to the 80-10-10 finance model
This means living on 80% of our household income, tithing 10%, and saving 10%
I plan to achieve this by:
- Sitting down with Eric in January to learn exactly how much money we bring in each month, then determining what actual dollar amount would equal 80%
- Total up all of our monthly expenses to see what our disposable income looks like when living on 80% of our income (if any… HA. Sad face.)
- Set up automatic deposits to put 10% into savings
- Determine which ministries we will distribute the 10% for tithing on a month-by-month basis (there are SO MANY great ministries…we cannot choose just one for the entire year).
- Follow-up at the end of each month to confirm that we stayed within 80%, or if any adjustments need to be made for the following mont
- More date nights with Eric
We will schedule one designated date night per month (not that we are limited to just one– but we will have one that is planned in advance)
I plan to achieve this by:
- Sitting down with Eric and selecting one date per month for the entire year that we will commit to reserving for a date night
- We will switch off being the “planner” for the date night; nothing extravagant, but the planner will be responsible for making reservations or purchasing tickets when necessary
- If we have to cancel or reschedule, we have to pick another date that month or add a date to the following month
- We will add these dates to our calendars and we will schedule a babysitter in advance
- Fully renovate one of our rental properties before August
Turning our 3 bed, 2 bath, 1950’s style rental in Fort Worth into a 4 bed, 3 bath that is completely updated with new flooring, kitchen, updated floor plan, etc. If we do this, we feel that we can increase monthly rents by 37%.
We plan to achieve this by:
- Exploring refinancing options to obtain the necessary funds for the remodel (Eric will handle this since it’s his expertise)
- Completing renderings of remodel design by March
- Select all fixtures/materials/paint/supplies by April
- Hire the necessary contractors by May
- Have work completed while house is vacant in June and July
- Project finished with house move-in ready by the beginning of August
- End the year with 25k followers on Instagram
This equals about 1,960 per month, and about 65 per day
I plan to achieve this by:
- Planning, scheduling, and executing monthly collaborations with other more established bloggers (at least one per month for the entire year)
- Attending a blogger conference so I can learn more and network
- Creating more consistent and regular content for my blog (I’d like to have more posts written in advance and scheduled)
- Creating a newsletter (would like to have this up and going by end of February)
- Exploring other affiliate programs
- Becoming more involved in my community so I can network and meet new people
- Leveraging any existing relationships and capitalizing on any partnership opportunities
…Well those aren’t lofty at all 😉
After really putting thought into these goals, I have decided that my mantra for 2018 needs be “Growth Through Discipline.”
Many of these goals are going to require sacrifices of our time, money, and talents. We will have less “free time” than we do right now if we really plan to see these goals through to completion, and it’s going to take discipline to stick with each one from beginning to end. But I know that’s what it takes to grow. It’s never easy and it’s rarely comfortable. That’s why some people stay the same and never grow. It takes a LOT of determination.
Speaking of which … any of my fellow National American Miss ladies remember the end of my personal introduction back in my pageant days?? I always closed by saying, “I have determination, and I have a dream…”*
It’s still true.
2018, I’m coming for you.
*Here’s a video of my personal introduction from back in my pageant days for your reference if you’re feeling nostalgic like I am, or if you just appreciate a good blast from the past 😉