start. stop. continue. assessing the past to accomplish in the future

Editor’s note: Before you head full speed into 2014, it’s important to take a minute to reflect on 2013. First, pat yourself on the back! Then, read this post. In the past year, I realized how important it is to assess my business. It’s hard to take the time out when you’re scrambling to fill orders or answer emails but stuff like this is what’s going to make your business grow and sustain. Delilah and I are getting ready to embark on a trip to Alt Summit next week and we’ve set aside time to assess what worked for us last year and adjust our plans for next year accordingly. Next week, we’ll be posting from Alt and writing about what we get out of attending conferences. In the meantime hope you find Eleanor’s post as helpful as we do.

-nicole s.


What do you want to stop, start and continue in 2014?

If you are like me, 2014 is already feeling like a packed year. I took a pause over the holidays and spend a little bit of time reflecting on my 2013 goals and accomplishments before shifting my attention to what lies ahead in 2014. I made a vision board for my professional work, but found that since the end of the holidays I’ve been clobbered with a seemingly endless list of tasks, meetings and obligations. I certainly didn’t have to take that class to learn to code, go to that meet up, take on another freelance project or agree to that public talk, but of course, I want to do all of these things. These past few weeks I keep asking myself, “Wait, what reflection was I going to do again? Goal? Huh?”

Sometimes a with a full schedule of running your handmade business, living your life and working a day job it’s easy to feel like your goals and resolutions were a nice, but fleeting, thought. I love Kari Chapin’s recent post about setting intentions and accomplishing your goals. If you’ve taken the time to reflect, or if you haven’t quite gotten there yet, I want to offer a simple exercise that can kick-start a longer reflection process or get you back on track if you feel you are neglecting your goals.

For this exercise grab some chart paper, post-it notes, or a large sketchbook. Make three columns on the paper or group your post-it notes three areas labeled:




Brainstorm and make notes. Think about:

What worked well for your business last year that you want to continue this year?

What would you like to focus on, do more of, or start that will help you achieve your goals or reach towards your vision of success?

What would you like to do less of or stop doing at all because it is no longer serving your business or does not fit in with your current goals?

Look at what you have written down (or post its you have placed) in each column. Do any larger themes emerge? What strikes you as the most urgent or important? What can you stop, start, or continue this week? This Month? This year?

Hone down your final list to one or two specific items short term, medium term, and long term and then write them down in complete sentences such as:

This week I will start:

This month I start:

This year I will start:

Post these sentences somewhere you can see them to keep yourself focused. This is also great to do in a group so you can share your plans together.

I learned this exercise when I was a museum educator planning lessons to teach about works of art and it helped me hone my teaching practice. I find it equally helpful when thinking about building a handmade business because it’s a very simple and is a quick way to inspire a deeper reflection. “Stop, start, continue” enables you to take broad intentions and match them with specific action items that will carry your business forward in the New Year despite your crazy schedule. What will you stop, start and continue this year?


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