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The magical power of celebration and review

I just celebrated a birthday! As I do each year, I looked back on the last year and, well, my whole life. Today I share what that review looks like, all of the other ways I build review and celebration into my business, and how you can review your last month. Listen to the episode at TaraSwiger.com/podcast110/

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I just celebrated a birthday! As I do each year, I looked back on the last year and, well, my whole life. Today I share what that review looks like, all of the other ways I build review and celebration into my business, and how you can review your last month.

 In this episode:

  • My Annual Birthday review
  • Weekly celebration
  • Why I start with the question “What's going well?” in the weekly Starship chat
  • Monthly review (a part of both Lift Off and Starship)


You can find the Monthly Review questions in Challenge 6 of the #monthofbizlove workbook! Get it here! 

My past birthday posts:

  • 33
  • 32
  • 31
  • 30
  • 29 (I opened the Starship!)
  • 28 (I launched this site!)
  • 27

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

On my 32nd birthday

Rocking the bangs & the pink sweaters & the flyaway hair way back in...86? I think I'm 4ish. #tbt

It's my birthday! Yay!

It's become a kind of tradition that I reflect back on the last year + share what I've learned (and accomplished) each year on my birthday.
Finally cold enough for tights, sweater, shawl. #yayfall
Of course, I always do this on my own, for myself (I talk about that more in tomorrow's episode)…but I also share it here for two reasons:

  1. It takes time.
    I think that, when you're looking at anyone's life and business from the outside, it's easy to miss just how long it took them. (More on that here). By sharing the last year (and a quick brief on the years before), I hope that it helps you see that everyone's growth goes slowly, piece by piece.
  2. Celebration is important.
    It's more socially acceptable (and comfortable!) to be modest, humble and self-effacing…to the point where we skip over acknowledging our accomplishments and move on to the next thing. (Claudine and I chatted about just this!) But celebration is important – it keeps you going, it reminds you of your awesomeness, and it builds your confidence so you try the next thing. Since I build my work around encouraging others to celebrate, I have to do it myself in order to have integrity. It's my hope that, as uncomfortable as this may make me, it serves as a model for your OWN celebration.

Auditioning all-over pink for Boston trip. Will it last the whole week? (This after 3 washes). #hmm

A look back…

Last year, I reflected that you never know where a tiny step is going to take you

Two years ago, I shared my secret of success. Then I started leading in-person workshops, finished two quilts, and explored my enthusiasm. I trained for (and ran!) a 5k
Three years ago, I explained why I was giving it all away and opened the Starship. The following year I got a book deal, wrote my book, and gave my first live speech. It was a sparkly year, full of firsts + traveling + feeling like a rock star.
Four years ago, I welcomed you to this site. The following year I moved from individual classes to building a community for makers, and got my first “big” client. My house was broken into (multiple times) and we moved suddenly into a 10×10 room, with all our stuff in storage, for 3 months. It was a rough year, but by my birthday I was feeling brave.
Five years ago, I was at the beach, about to quit my dayjob. That year I became self-employed, and opened a yarn shop (and quickly closed it, when I recognized that I wasn't having fun). It was a year of boldly following my enthusiasm through fear.
Six years ago, I was working full-time in an office, making yarn at nights and weekends, growing my business.
Seven years ago, I was teaching and dyeing custom colors for a local yarn store.
Eight years ago, I was managing a paint-your-own-pottery studio, beginning to dye yarn, but hadn't even dreamed of starting a yarn company.

After missing the first day and a half of the beach thanks to the flu, I'm that much more thankful to finally be in the sea air. #windy

This year, I feel like I fully let my enthusiasm become by business advisor and I doubled the Starship membership, opened the Solo Mission, and created 4 new digital workshops.
Later, Boston. See you tonight. xoxo, your new girlfriend.
I also got brave + bold with my in-person teaching: I taught at the national trade show for the knitting industry (!) in San Diego (and learned an important lesson), two workshops in Boston, at community colleges and arts councils around North Carolina, and signed a contract to teach with CreativeLIVE. I dedicated myself to helping you explore your Enthusiasm, by hosting the Exploration Party in July and by starting a podcast (Explore Your Enthusiasm) last month. Oh, and I totally redesigned by whole website.

Moms new Christmas quilt, on top of last year's Christmas quilt. #nofilter #pennypatchqal

I found a good balance between work and play- I finished 2 quilts (and started 2 more), I started painting and I picked knitting back up.

Emerald Isle quilt

But I definitely made less this year than others, because I spent a lot more time outdoors: I ran my first 10k, in the Redwoods (and of course, trained for it most of the winter).

Hiked 4 miles to swim at the falls (& then 4 miles back. Oof).

I went to the Outer Banks with my extended family, took a roadtrip with a college roommate, watched the sun set on my brother's boat, visited my dad twice, celebrated a friend's wedding, and met a whole host of students, friends and fellow biz explorers during my travels. Jay and I spent endless evenings snuggled in with great food and our favorite TV shows.

More from my goodbye to the Oceanside Pier yesterday, because pretty. (& running though CLT requires pretty).
There were, of course, less-than-awesome moments. Beau had a weird growth on his mouth, that required several hundreds of dollars in vet visits (and one surgery)…to discover it's just an bacterial overgrowth of skin and nothing to be worried about. There were misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and one friend-break-up (Jay's). There was hope and possibility, disappointment and impatience.
The rain is busy pelting the petals off the trees, so I wanna remember this moment in last week's run. #yayspring #foundwhilerunning

But really, when I look back, I can't remember much about the bad, sad, or exhausting. I remember the beautiful spring runs, the seabreeze, the hugs, conversation, smiles, and gigglefits. I remember the moments when I felt loved or understood. I remember that this was a year full of love and opportunities.

And that's all I can hope for the coming year.

Reviewing the year in your business

As the year wraps up, it’s time to review the past year. Now, this can be as painful as doing your taxes or it can be as fun as attending a New Year’s Eve party.

Let’s do it the fun way, yeah?

Making your yearly wrap-up FUN can be as simple as setting some intentions before you get started – what do you want to learn? What information do you need to make the New Year awesome?

 

I like to know: 

  • What are the best things I did for my business in 2011?
  •  What were my most succesful months?
  •  Where did new business come from?
  •  What risks didn’t pay off?
  •  What was the most painful time (or project) of 2011
    (notice: I didn’t ask what wasn’t successful,because if something was a huge money-maker, but I hated every second of it…I want to avoid it in the future, or find a way to make it more fun)

 

To answer these questions, I do a quick three-step process:

1.  Gather information

2.  Find the connections

3.  Use what I’ve learned

 

1. Gather Information

 

Now, this is the step that you’ll try to avoid, but you’ve gotta just buckle down and do it.

The kind of information you want to gather is:

  • Your business financials, by month (all income and expenses) – I get this by donwloading my Paypal activity by month into  a spreadsheet, then I update the spreadsheet with information from my bank statements (anything that I earned or spent that didn’t go through Paypal). If you use Vianza, these reports are easy to generate!
  • A list of the time-specific marketing you did (what months did you run advertising, attend trade shows, release new lines, etc) – this is easiest to gather if you’ve been writing it down as the year’s progressed, but you can dig through your emails to find the info you need.
  • The metrics that I care about, by month – this is everything that reflects the health of your business that isn’t related to money. For you this might be new accounts (and when you landed them), web traffic (pay attention to spikes, and changes in where the traffic came from), publicity.

 

To keep it simple, I like to organize the information in  a simple list with each month’s final numbers (income and expense), the marketing in that month, and any other metrics listed under the Month Name. If you spread it out too much, over multiple documents, you won’t be able to see as clearly how one month affected the next.

 

Now go back through your months and write in anything else that you think of.
Did a trade show one month lead you to hire someone to help you fill the orders? Or did it overwhelm you so much that you sent orders out late?
Did one retailer fail to pay you one time and mess up your cashflow?
Did you get a sales rep in one month and see your orders double the next month.
Is one month’s income made up from just one big order, while another month’s made up of several small orders?

 

Whew, this is a lot of digging and thinking and it may take you more than one day. Take as long as you need to think over this list and add things as you think of them.

When you're ready for Part 2 of the review process, check it out at Vianza.

 

I wrote this post for Vianza, but liked it so much I had to share it here! Let me know how your review goes!

Knit Green – Book Review

I received my copy of Knit Green 2 weeks ago. Since then, I have been pouring through it.
IMGP6642

Now, I should warn you – I am NOT unbiased about this book – I sold my photographs to the editor and they appear in the book. This is the first time I've seen my name in print, in a bound BOOK. So yeah, I was more than a little excited when my copy came in the mail!

Knit Green, pg 109

That said, I was prepared to just scan the book and put it on my shelf (or let's be honest, on my coffee table where I can casually flip to my pictures whenever anyone wanders into the room). I've been reading and researching eco-friendly fibers since I first thought about starting a yarn business, over 4 years ago. I didn't think this book had a lot to teach me.

Whoa.

I was wrong. So very wrong.

This book is FULL of things I didn't know or couldn't find the answers to.

Part of the book's brilliance is in it's layout. Each chapter tackles a different angle of “green” knitting: Biodiversity, sustainable farming, vegan fibers, maintaining folk traditions, fair trade, organic, recycling, buying local & changing habits.

Each chapter has a well-researched article on the topic, followed by 2 – 3 patterns using yarns that embody the characteristic.
Knit Green - My photo!

While most of the patterns aren't for me (I hardly ever knit from patterns, so *most* patterns aren't for me), the fact that the author gives you real applications for what the book is teaching is refreshing.

The real gem in this book is the articles. The articles are worth the price, even if you never knit any of the patterns, if you are concerned with making concientious decisions in your knitting.

And don't let the whole “green” thing scare you away. The author never becomes preachy or pedantic. She seems to share my belief that knitting “green” needn't be a major life-changing commitment; it can be a slow path to making decisions you are comfortable with.

Shop Indie Bookstores

Book: Knit Green, written by Joanne Seiff
(since we're all about the shopping-local, why don't you try to find a local indie bookstore through IndieBound?)