What to do when you feel like you're making super slow progress in your business
I can’t tell you how many months I’ve felt behind, felt like I had hardly worked and felt like I moved my business forward at a snail’s pace.
It seems to be my automatic thought process “I haven’t done enough. I wanted to achieve more. I thought I’d be further than this already!”
If you’re walking through life feeling the same, then I want to talk about what’s really helped me when I’ve felt this way.
When this happens, the first thing I do is to determine, is this feeling even true? Is this feeling real? Have I actually been moving at a snail’s pace, or is this just my typical thought process playing up again?
The best way to figure this out? To check in on my quarterly goals.
Step 1: Check quarterly goals
I use Asana as my project management system, and I set my goals for the quarter on the final day of the quarter. That way, I’m forced to reckon with them. On the final day of the quarter, my goals appear in my day’s task list and that’s the time when I check in with how well I did achieving them.
I can’t tell you how many times I walked month to month in life and business feeling like I was getting nowhere, only to check in with my goals and be shocked at truly how much I did get done!
It’s easy to look forward at work as some massive daunting task and to look back on it as if it was nothing, a small step in a long road ahead.
Almost every single time I’ve felt this way and then checked in on my goals, I realized how crazy my thoughts were. Most often, I do achieve a LOT, a lot of work and progress does get made. And seeing that in black and white when I check in with my goals helps me to stop beating myself up and feel great about what I have done!
So if you’re not setting goals for the quarter, I really suggest it! It’s truly the best way to force yourself to take a minute and see how far you’ve come and all that you’ve accomplished.
Another way to track your progress? Track the important stats in your business!
Step 2: Track the important business stats
Maybe you don’t hit your lofty goals, but heck, you did make some good progress! How do you determine that? It can be so easy to forget what your email list size was 3 months ago or how much traffic you got last quarter to your website.
Every month in my business I take all of 4 minutes to pop some numbers into a Google Sheet that I’ve had since the very beginning of my business.
This is where I track the important stats in my business. Notice I mention “important!”
Yeah seeing your social media follower numbers rise makes us feel good and all, but how important is that to our business really? (Honestly, not that much in my opinion.)
To me, my email list is reallyyyy important. (And tbh, it should be important to you too if you run any sort of online business.) what else is important? The number of visitors to my blog, the number of listens to my podcast, the amount of revenue & profit my business generates, the number of new students we get, and the conversion rate we’re getting from email list to customer, etc.
Those are the actually legit important numbers.
If you run some sort of a service-based business, the number of client inquiries you get, and the number of those that you convert into paying clients is important.
Yes, if you reallyyyy want to, you can also track your social media stats of course, though really I’d call that more of a vanity metric than anything.
I can’t tell you how encouraging my “success metrics” document is. (Yep, that’s what I call it!)
Looking back at where I was a year ago, or 3 years ago shows me just how much all of those small, day-to-day tasks paid off and made a big difference in the long-run.
Okay, so let’s say you’ve checked in on your goals and, whoops, you didn’t hit any of them or very few of them! 😯 Or maybe you’re looking at your success metrics sheet right now and realizing, shoot, my business is really not moving forward at all.
First things first, don’t worry you’re not alone, I’ve also been there.
What then? Does the world come to an end? Do you throw in the towel with business?
Of course not! At this point, it’s time for some more reflecting and a little grace.
Step 3: Reflection & Grace
Look back and ask yourself, what DID you do this quarter?
Wanna know who didn’t hit any of her goals this quarter? This girl right here! Yep, guilty as charged.
But you know what I did do this quarter?
I took a 3-week vacation completely away from work on a beautiful lake, surrounded by friends and family and my fiancé, and another 1-week vacation on a sailing course a couple weeks after that. I took long weekends and worked part-time while going to language school to become fluent in a foreign language. I learned to sail and got a sailing certification. I went to Oktoberfest, and back to my university town for a homecoming of sorts with college friends and my sorority. I made significant wedding planning progress, I said yes to the dress, I booked a photographer, built our wedding website, and sent save the dates.
So yeah, I missed all my business goals and you know what... who really cares? I made progress towards them all, but actually didn’t hit any.
But in that time I LIVED some serious life. I learned amazing new life skills (sailing & German), I vacationed like it was going out of style, I spent time with family and friends, and I made great progress planning one big life event, a wedding!
So ya know what? Those things are worth it to me.
When you don’t hit your goals because “life keeps getting in the way,” I want you to ask yourself... what’s the point of your business anyways?
The longer I’ve lived in Europe, the more I’ve started adopting the European way of life.
I’ve heard it’s been said before that Europeans work to live and Americans live to work.
I know which category I want to fall into.
What’s the point of a successful business if you never get to enjoy it? What’s the point of working constantly? To make more money? To then do what, sit in your bank account forever because you have 0 time off to even do anything with it?
Nah. That’s not how I want to live my life.
Of course, a life spent on just the fun part of living won’t work all too well, but neither does the opposite.
I remember always hearing people talk about “seasons” of life and business, and I was sitting there wondering “ ... I’m sorry, what does fall and summer have to do with productivity in business?”
Clearly, I had it all wrong.
Seasons in life/business mean that for one period of time, we’re focused on a certain area of life or business. It doesn’t mean that that’ll be your focus forever, but it means it’s your focus for now.
For this season.
(A season doesn’t have to be the length of a normal season as we traditionally think about it FYI. Seasons of life/business can be as short or long as you make them.)
So if you’re looking at your goals or your success metrics sheet and thinking “darn it, I missed the mark on them all!” I want you to take a moment to reflect on what did happen in that period of time, and ask yourself, “am I in a different season?”
If that’s the case, then you have 1 thing to do.
Accept that you can’t go as fast as others right now for some reason, accept that you’ve made slower progress than you wanted, and just accept that, sometimes, life really is more important than business.