Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet: A reflection on 2016 and your goal planning worksheets

Here we are, friends. Getting ready to say goodbye to 2016. As the year is coming to a close, a lot of us are reflecting on what a year it's been and what a new year has in store for us. I do the same thing. Every year I reflect on what has happened, what I've accomplished, and what I'm looking forward to. I make plans for the new year and set intentions to make myself a better, more thoughtful person. 

This year, however, is the first year that I'm making plans for a new year in my business. Leighwood Paperie launched in March of 2016 and while I'm getting ready to celebrate one year in business, I'm looking forward to turning the calendar on a fresh start. I've been spending the past few days (well, months, really) reflecting on what I want this brand to stand for and what kind of clients I want to work with and the experience that I want you to have when you interact with me. I've looked over this past year, identified and celebrated the wins that I've had, contemplated on how to make my losses not happen again, and I'm looking forward to what 2017 has in store. 

Today I'm taking a moment to open up about what 2016 has been like, both personal and professional, and a couple things that I'm looking forward to in the new year. I'm also sharing with you a printable workbook that I put together so that you, too, can map out your intentions and goals for 2017 to help make it your best year yet. 

Leighwood Paperie | Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet: A reflection on 2016 + your goal planning worksheets

Let me start off by saying that I'm so extremely lucky. Lucky and blessed. 2016 was a year that held so much potential. I was getting married in January, I was working for a company that I thought had my back and my future in mind.

The year started off great. J and I got married in January and while we were still riding that high and planning out our honeymoon to Yosemite that we would take in May, I got called into the office at work. "We're making some changes to the company." "I'm so sorry that we have to do this." "I promise that it isn't you."

Wait. What? One week after I got married, I found myself laid off and unemployed. For the first time ever in my life, I didn't have a job. Since I turned 16 I had always had a job and now, fresh off of getting married, I had no idea what was next. For a few weeks I let myself feel sorry for myself. I was sad, angry, and upset. I had done all the right things and tried to cater to all the right people and it got me nothing. I felt discouraged about going back into retail. I had an identity crisis about what I wanted to do next. I started applying for office jobs. Boring 9-5 work.

Somewhere in that exploration and identity crisis, I started talking to my husband about "what if" I did design work for a living? What if I started my own business creating greeting cards and invitations. I could do that, right? At the time I had a food and lifestyle blog and had just begun creating printables for that, so I decided, what if I just open a business?

And I did. 

Leighwood Paperie opened in March of 2016 with a few designs and a half-ass plan for the future. I didn't have any long-term goals for the business. I just knew that I had to put myself out there. I started reading, started learning, and—thanks to a very wonderful friend—created a few designs that started to sell. I also found part-time work in retail again. I made a conscious decision to go part-time because I wanted to be able to grow this baby business. I also made the conscious decision to go back to school. While for over 10 years I have taught myself all the programs and am pretty resourceful when it comes to learning, I wanted to learn how to do it right. I signed up for summer classes at my local community college and set off on this adventure. 

And do you know what? This year has been hard. Really hard. It has also been one of the biggest blessings in my life. Owning and growing a business isn't easy. There's no magic spell that makes you instantly successful. Throughout this year I have made some missteps and have learned a lot. At the beginning I made a lot of designs and felt as though I was trying to offer a little something for everyone. Ultimately, I found that I wasn't being true to myself. And I truly and honestly believed that me not being 100% genuine showed in my sales. I wasn't hitting the numbers that I wanted to hit. I wasn't getting the clients that I want to get. That's why a couple months ago, Leighwood Paperie got a facelift. I made the choice to scale back my product offerings and really focus on growing an area that means a lot to me—working directly with clients. I decided to stop worrying about catering to everyone and focus on catering to my ideal client. And by doing that, I feel more inspired, I feel more driven, and I feel more focused. 

As I look towards 2017, I have bright and big goals and intentions for Leighwood Paperie. While every business has financial goals, I also am setting goals that are important to how I want to be as a business owner. I'm looking at ways to stay true to my core values and letting those values drip into every area of my business. A few of them include:

  • Continuing to nurture and grow my Designing for Good initiative: Following the election, I felt discouraged and distraught. I decided to channel that energy into working towards a better future for the world. I introduced this initiative as a way of giving back. 25% of all retail sales goes back to an organization that works towards helping people, or places. This holiday season, because of you, I've raised almost $100 for the Covering House and I can't wait to introduce the first group for 2017. The Designing for Good initiative also offers discounted branding services to select non-profits, which gives non-profits an opportunity to have a strong and powerful brand presence in the world and I look forward to giving back even more in 2017.
  • Focus on sustainability and reducing my footprint: As a paper goods designer, using paper is inevitable. It's part of my business model. However, as a paper goods designer, there are ethical and sustainable ways to use paper. This year, I'm working towards making my products as green as possible. I've been doing a lot of research into sustainable paper makers, who use things like hydro-electric energy to produce paper, and work towards sustainable farming practices. The environment is important to me and my business needs to reflect that. By investing in these sustainable practices, you can rest assured that your products are the highest, most thoughtful quality. 
  • Building meaningful relationships with clients + collaborators: The best part of owning this business is all of the people that I have the opportunity to meet. Through custom work and local markets, I get to connect with my clients. And I want to make sure that when I'm working with you, it's in the most meaningful and thoughtful way. By investing in Leighwood Paperie, you're putting your trust in me and that means so much. It's important that you feel special. As a client, I want you to feel like part of my family. The same goes for my collaborations. With each interaction that I have, I want to make sure that it's meaningful, thoughtful, and intentional. 

There are so many more things on my 2017 list, but these were the top three that can be applied to both my professional and personal life. These three things I'm considering the cornerstone to my year. My mission as a brand and as a person. And with actionable steps and thoughtful strategy, each one of these can be implemented to not only grow my business, but also to grow me as a person. 

Leighwood Paperie >> Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet: A reflection on 2016 and your goal planning worksheets

I created these goal planning worksheets so that I could work on putting all of my 2017 goals in place and I'm so excited to share them with you. These worksheets focus on the three most important areas of your life: your work, your self, and your home. Each sheet breaks your goals out into yearly, quarterly, and monthly goals. That way, you can break your yearly goals down into actionable steps. You can use as many of them as you want throughout the year, but if you're looking to save paper, you can laminate each sheet and record your yearly goal in dry-erase pen, that way you can change out your quarterly and monthly steps to get there. 

I hope that you enjoy! And let's promise to make this year our best yet, okay?

Leighwood Paperie >> Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet: A reflection on 2016 and your goal planning worksheets