Becca Apfelstadt is co-founder and CEO of treetree, a marketing agency in Columbus, Ohio, that provides creative firepower for B2B giants.
I’m a firm believer that you should bring your whole self to work and your whole self home. The idea of a “work Becca” and a “home Becca” exhausts me. And frankly, it’s in direct conflict with the culture I strive to create in both my workplace and my home. As an entrepreneur and CEO and a mom and wife, I’ve found that I bring home leadership skills that my kids benefit from. Conversely, I learn countless lessons at the dinner table that I can bring to the office. Letting my whole self be fully present at work and at home has made me a better and more empathetic leader, partner and mother.
It’s hard to let your walls down when it could mean that stress from work affects you at home, and vice versa. But it’s worth it. I believe there is so much possibility in the unknown, the new and the challenging.
Both at work and at home, try to prioritize gratitude and positivity. This can put you in a mindset that primes you for accepting and tackling challenges. For me, living that mindset purposefully is crucial in guiding both my business and my life decisions, including building my annual life plan.
Creating A Business Plan For Your Life
The process I’m about to share is real — it’s how my husband and I conduct our annual planning session. But remember that there is no one way to do this right. Your annual planning could be solo or with whomever you move through life with. And you might have very different life goals and dreams than someone else. The important thing is creating an action plan to help you achieve the things you need to do to grow and thrive.
These eight steps are rooted in the same steps I follow when planning for my business. (And if you’re not already planning your business this way, I highly recommend it.)
1. Call this meeting something fun.
In our house, we schedule the “Apfelstadt, Inc. Annual Meeting.” It generates excitement and starts the session off on a positive note. It might be my marketing brain, but who doesn’t love a fun name?
2. Clear your calendar and allow for an entire day of planning.
This isn’t something you want to rush. Make sure you and anyone who is participating with you can give this their full attention. Your team can survive, and even thrive, without you. This goes for your home and office team.
3. Go off-site.
Book a cabin, explore a new hotel, swap homes with a friend for a night or get outside for the day. Just like a work retreat, getting out of your normal workspace will remove daily distractions and help you focus on strategizing for the year ahead.
4. Make an agenda that includes all the important moments.
Draw on your business management skills to keep your meeting on track. Discuss what has worked, and what hasn’t, in the past year. Workshop what you’re missing in your day-to-day life, and how you can solve that. What are your days craving? Determine what you need more or less of from both your partner and yourself going forward. This is where you get real and get honest and get it all out on the table.
5. Establish goals, milestones and mini-milestones.
This is my favorite part of the meeting because it’s when we dream. At treetree, we break everything down into long-term goals and then establish the major milestones and mini-milestones to work toward on the way there. But first, you must know where you want to go. I have a friend who does a similar exercise, and she calls this part her “absurd list,” and I love that way of thinking. Go big — what would you put on your wildest list of wants, and how could you inch — or leap — toward them? I take the same approach with personal goals, whether it’s reaching a financial milestone, evolving our parenting style or even planning a vacation. Identifying your goals and then outlining the steps it will take to get there will make your dreams feel within reach.
6. Build in breaks and exercises that encourage creativity and connection.
Breaks are necessary to be productive, both in an all-day meeting and in life. Get up and get moving so your brain can take a much-needed break.
7. Reevaluate your core values.
My business has core values that dictate how we work together, how we serve our clients and how we support each other. We have a similar set of values in the Apfelstadt home. When it’s time to make difficult decisions, I can trust that adhering to my core values will help me make the right choices. Take this time to evaluate whether it’s time to refresh (or create) core values for your life. Write them out and use them as your compass to move forward with intention and purpose.
8. Book it.
You’ve made the plan; now move toward your dreams. If you have trouble getting motivated, remind yourself that you’re taking the steps your future self needs to feel healthy and fulfilled. In this step, you might block times on your calendar to work on writing, or take chunks of your day and reserve them for exercise or mindfulness. My husband and I have planned all of our time off and even booked family vacations during our planning day.
Live Authentically You
We give so much of ourselves to our work, but your life deserves the same attention. You deserve spaces where you can be unapologetically you. I love seeing my team and my loved ones take the time to identify what makes them shine their brightest, and then build a daily, weekly, monthly and annual plan around it. I want this for myself, for my family, for my business and for you.
Have you done something similar with your business or personal life? I’d love to learn more about your successes (or failures). Let’s talk about life and business management.