Made By Mrs M

Dream Plan Do - My End of Year Review

Books, BusinessKate Marsden

If you were reading my blog back at the start of the year, you’ll know that I was excitedly delving into my Dream Plan Do planner from The Design Trust, and I was determined to stay on top of it this time in order to reap the maximum benefit. I even managed to write an update post here.

My very well thumbed planner (and my shiny new one!).

My very well thumbed planner (and my shiny new one!).

Well, here we are in month 12 and I’m pleased to say that I did fall off the wagon… but not completely! I’ve decided to take this opportunity to look back on the year and my work with the planner, and to explain why (despite the fact that I’ve not completed it) I’ve gone ahead and ordered next year’s book.

There are a couple of reasons I went a little off track… Unlike previous years where my business really was product based, this year I scaled that right back (for why, take a look at this post from last November) and at the same time I made the decision to take the pressure off when it came to launching 2 collections per year. Both of these topics feature heavily in Dream Plan Do and I will admit that I started to loose my way once I got to these chapters. In addition to the changes to my business I also, somewhat unexpectedly, took on a temporary teaching job which, while the hours are far from long, has had quite an impact – both upon the time I have to work on my business and on the ideas I’m having for my work.

So back in the summer I set about thinking of an alternative way to use the planner. One thing I’ve found particularly useful in this second edition is the Wheel of Life – so it’s no longer only about my business – there’s a more holistic approach. Considering this has also been the year in which I’ve finally become completely hooked on exercise again (after a VERY long break) I’ve used the planner to think about where I’m going with that too and thinking about how I use my time as a whole (oh and not feeling bad about taking time out to go to the gym – I need it both for my physical heath and my sanity!).

The planner has also helped me to generate new ideas and think more about what my priorities should be. This time last year, the idea of not launching collection or having masses of products scared me; but now it’s actually quite a relief not to have a massive inventory I need to somehow shift before Christmas! It has also helped me to focus on selling more commissions, improving my teaching, and thinking about new workshop ideas. I’ve learnt that I can’t always take each chapter literally but there’s something to be learnt from each of them.

Other things that could have thrown a spanner in the works included my spur of the moment decision to launch my Kickstarter (which was successful, thank goodness!) and also that to do fewer markets and events. The lack of events did, predictably, result in fewer sales but I’ve actually streamlined what I do and significantly reduced my costs so it’s not worked out as badly as it could have done.

Image (c) The Design Trust

Image (c) The Design Trust

Looking back on the year, I have achieved quite a lot of the things I set out to do (if you exclude my financial goals, which still feel like a pipedream, and my complete failure to embrace Pinterest – one for next year’s planner…). When I review last January in particular I can see that I’m going to need to carry out a similar soul searching exercise again as I feel I’m starting to go off track (however I do have the urge to launch a collection in the spring – someone stop me please, it will only end in tears!).

So where am I at the time of writing? Well, I’m working through the “is your website Christmas ready?” checklist, revisiting time management (which has been a far greater challenge for me over the last few months) and I’m itching to get started on my lovely new 2019 Dream Plan Do planner which arrived last week.

I really wanted to cut myself more slack this year – nothing I ever do is good enough, so I tend to just keep ploughing on blindly no matter what, without taking time out to assess whether things are working (or to celebrate successes). So I have made the effort to try not to work ALL of the time and to sit back and think, for example, of how many more people have my artwork displayed in their homes at the end of this year, and how many people I’ve taught to make lampshades… it’s a good starting point at least. Next year I need to build upon this and be brave when it comes to dropping the things that aren’t working.

I can’t wait to get started on my new planner, but if I don’t (or can’t) complete every page, or even every month, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. If nothing else it’s an amazing tool to get me off to a good start in January, a useful document to use to review at the end of the year to see how far I’ve come (or not!) and an invaluable reference book the rest of the time. I’m very much looking forward to curling up with my new copy over tea and cake next month.