Follow along challenge: Planning your best year 2019 - part 1


It’s much more fun to do the hard work together. We can inspire, help and support each other along the way. So come along and do this challenge with me and Plan your 2019 to make it your best year yet!

Every other day I will post a planning step according to how I usually plan my year. Actually I always incorporate my yearly planning in my 3-year plan for my business and if you want to do that too you can read the 3-year plan article series and learn how I do that as well.

This challenge is focusing on one year into the future - 2019 is coming!

In this post I talk about the first step in my yearly planning process.


Why I do a yearly plan

At the end of every year I plan out my next near. The reasons why I do this:

- It’s how I was trained when working as a marketing project manager at the Swedish general agent of Toyota.

- It creates a feeling of control of my business and what I’m doing.

- It makes it easier to understand what to focus on - what to start up, what to continue with, what to improve and what to stop doing.

Is following / not following your plan good / bad?

I’m the queen of plans. I’m a visionary, a dreamer and new ideas come easy to me. Planning is a task I really enjoy.

What I’m not as good at is the execution of the plans (If accomplishing 100% of the goals you set is considered good and anything else is bad).

I usually do about 50 to 70% of what I’ve planned. So is that good or bad? Well, it’s 50-70% good and 30-50% uncertain. Depending on a few things.


- The original plans may not be relevant after a while. Circumstances do change, very often and as a business owner you have to roll with the punches and adapt. In this case, not executing on the plan is good.
- New and better plans come up. Also a good reason for not following the plan. But if so, the new plans need to replace the old ones.

Sometimes not executing on the plan is not a good thing though. If it’s about dodging. Sometimes it’s about postponing and procrastinating just because the task feels overwhelming, difficult or just plain boring.

But the thing is, the dodged plans can teach us much more about ourselves than the accomplished ones and be of use to us, it gives us opportunity to make improvements, but most of all, it gives us opportunity to be kind to ourselves.

So when we take on the first step of planning our next year - 2019 - don’t be discouraged by all the things you never did. It’s a new year and you’re wiser than last year. And the world is an oyster…

Ok, let’s stop with the blabbing and start with the planning already...

Yearly planning - step 1

The first step I always do when planning my next year is to do a review of the past one. I take out the document where I wrote down my plans and goals for the current year and start to sum up.


These are the questions I ask:
What plans did I execute?
Did I do them on time, when planned?
Did I reach the objectives I had set up for this particular project / task?

For example:

For 2018 I planned to create 3-4 new pattern collections, each including 10 patterns. 1 or 2 to be completed in March and 2 to be completed in September.
In adjacent to this I was going to update the portfolio book and send to 1 existing client each spring and fall and also to 24 potential clients throughout the year.

So to answer the questions above for these plans:
Q: Did I execute the plan?
A: Partly. I created a couple of new pattern collections and updated the portfolio.

Q: Did I do that on time?
A: I was about a month late, both times.

Q: Did I reach the objectives?
A: I created 2 complete collections with 10 patterns and one mini collection of 6. I sent it to my existing client but only 2 new potential clients. So I almost reached the objectives of 2-3 collections, but not even close to sending out to new potential clients.


And now I do some analysing of these results and ask myself:
What were the reasons behind the results?

When I break it down to each objective it can look like this:

Q: Why did I only create 2 complete collections and one mini collection and not 3-4?

A: At the time the real reason was that I prioritised and focused on a few other projects instead: mainly spending a lot of time and effort on my digital platforms - website, newsletter, blog and Instagram.

Q: Why did I only send the portfolio only to 2 potential clients?
A: It’s a scary task to put yourself out there up for evaluation, which definitely makes me procrastinate. Plus that one of the companies I did send it to never returned the book and that discouraged me. I also think that I was a bit uncertain about the portfolio and my patterns. I also think that the objective of sending to 24 companies was a bit too high. Plus that it shouldn’t happen throughout the year but twice a year - spring and fall. I’ve since last year learned that this is when companies are working on their new product collections.

Q: How can I learn from this and what can I do differently next year?
1) I will take a good look at my portfolio and make sure that everything in there feels 100%. I’m only going to include work that I feel really good about and that is truly aligned with my style.
2) I will make more copies of the portfolio book using an online service instead of binding and printing it on my own. That way I can create more copies without spending hours on printing, cutting and assembling. With books like that it’s not going to feel so downputting if they’re not returned. With more copies I can send to more companies at the same time.
3) I will send out the books during a specific time slot in the spring and in the fall, and let myself off during the rest of the year.


These answers can later help me when I set up my new project plans and objectives. So the review helps me to be more realistic and reasonable, plus it guides me in how and where I can improve things.


One thing that is really important in this review phase is to point out your successes and celebrate them:

Take a good look at the things that you did accomplish - no matter if they were partly completed, or out of plan. What were the result that you did reach? They are worth celebrating.

Here are some of the things that I’m celebrating:
1) I sold and licensed x pattern designs. Hooray!

2) The collaboration with Svanefors and the launch of their A/W-18 collection including one of my patterns. Yippeee!

3) I created and published my own pattern bank - Woot woot!

4) Being able to give myself x kr in salary EVERY MONTH! Yay!!!!!

5) Making profit and not loss every month! Good job! (pat on the shoulder too)

6) I created a community of over 100 Swedish pattern designers - enabling us solitary creatures to have pattern design colleagues. Plus - we have met up many times during the year. This one tops everything this year!

Now it’s your turn

Your first task for ”Planning your best year 2019” 

Do a review of 2018. 

- If you did a plan for 2018 last year, use that as reference.

- If you don’t have a current plan to reference you can review your year based on your different functions.

Below I have listed the functions I use as a foundation for my plans and some questions you can ask in order to remember the things you worked on within these areas during the year:


How did your design work go? 

Did you create any new designs, collections, illustration, art? How many, when? Did you do as many as you had planned / wanted to?

Did you work on your portfolio?


What else did you produce besides designs and artwork? Any products to sell? Digital, physical, courses? How many?


Did you do any branding work? I.e decided and defined how you want to be perceived? What did you do? Copy, headlines, tagline, imagery, other visuals, your values, a logo etc.

What marketing platforms did you work on? Website, blog, newsletter, shop, Social media.
What did you accomplish with them? Followers, unique visitors, subscribers, readers.

Did you do any advertising and if so how did it do?

Did you do any PR this year? Pitching to media, for collaborations?


Did you sell anything during the year? Designs, illustrations, digital or physical products.

How many?

Did you work on any sales channels? Webshop, physical shop, pop-ups, markets?

Did you attend any trade shows or exhibitions?


How much revenue did you create this year and what different revenue streams do you have? Any new, any lost?

Costs? Did you have higher or lower costs than the previous year? Were they relevant and purposeful?

Did you make any investments and did they pay off this year, or are you expecting the result next year?

Were you able to give yourself salary? How much?

Other functions where you can ask yourself similar questions are:

Legal and compliance
Customer support

To sum up task 1

1) Evaluate

What major projects did you work on for each function?

When did you do them?

What were the results?

2) Reflect & analyze

Reasons for the result?

What can you learn from this?

3) Learnings

What will you do different next time?

4) Celebrate your successes!

What experiments, achievements and results are you happy with and proud of?

And remember:

Never look at the non-achievements as failures, but as experiments.

”Ok, so this didn’t turn out as I had planned or expected, what can I learn from this?”

Take a couple of days to review your 2018 and I’ll be back with the next step and a task in a couple of days.

If you have questions, need help, want to share some ideas - please join the Goalsetting with Bear Bell Facebook group here >>