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Kickstarting the year the event planner way

January, the month of intention. A new year, a fresh start, people see it as the ideal time to renew their focus and set their goals. As we all know, by the end of January the most well meaning intentions begin to fade. The third Monday of the month has even been named Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year! So, how can you keep your motivation?

For me personally, January doesn’t present a challenge. It’s my birthday month, so the celebration planning fills that post Christmas void that some people experience. That there holds the key, although somewhat unintentionally. Keeping yourself motivated is reliant on having a focus on goals that you have set and plans you have made.

As event planners we are always focused on preparing for our next event but how about planning for ourselves and setting our own goals? I spoke to several event planning experts including, Juliet Tripp, International Event Planner and Goal Setting Coach, Duncan Greenfield Turk, Managing Director, Luxury London Guy, Sabrina Meyers, Global Event Planner, Hot Hospitality Exchange and Holly Moore, Managing Director, Make Events to find out how it helped them and what tips they had to share.

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What gets you motivated after Christmas and how do you ensure you keep motivated throughout the year?

Juliet Tripp: The excitement of a new year! I'm incredibly lucky to love what I do, which of course helps, but try not to look at the end of year as 'the build up to Christmas' and 'between Christmas and New Year.' There's LOADS more stuff going on beyond that one day of the year and I'm a big believer in everything in moderation so YES I drink plenty of prosecco and eat plenty of cheeseboards at Christmas but I also make sure I'm keeping active, checking in with my goals, etc, so I don't feel like I'm in a slump that's difficult to get out of.

Duncan Greenfield Turk: I have clients who work through the down time so I guess staying on top of things for them and looking at how I can win ne w business in Q1 helps keep me both focused and motivated. I also want to grow my agency so I am quite motivated to ensure I do this over the next 12-18 months

Sabrina Meyers: Planning and goal-setting! Also you must have personal goals mixed in with work to keep it fresh and exciting. In 2020, I’d like to get my drivers license (yes I don’t have one!) but it’s also the year I turn 40 so I’m going for it!! And I have bucket list destinations I want to visit like Sri Lanka.

Holly Moore: The thought of losing the Christmas pounds!!!! Having a clear break between years. This year for the first time I have booked a solo January holiday to go away and plan

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Why is planning and goal setting an important part of your routine?

Juliet Tripp: In addition to my work in events, which completely relies upon planning, goal setting has been totally transformational in other areas of my life and something I'm super passionate about. It keeps me on track, keeps my professional and personal life working in tandem and keeps me grounded, even when I might be working incredibly long hours or be on the other side of the world.

Duncan Greenfield Turk: Planning is crucial for me to ensure I am able to stay on top of the various different projects I am currently working on. I have a map of this over a time line and then breakdown when I need to get key aspects for each project completed by. This then allows me to better understand my own capacity and if I am able to take on new work at any given moment.

Holly Moore: I feel like if I write things down they are tattooed in my brain and then I make myself accountable. But the pull has to be strong enough to make me want to do it. I don’t always achieve them but that doesn’t de motivate me. I have started to write my 10 goals down every single day.

Sabrina Meyers: With anything there needs to be a framework and structure on how you are going to get to your end objectives. I’ve always been a planner whether its my personal life or work life. In a way it’s like cooking with a recipe. You need to know the correct ingredients and amounts and how to put them together to get the successful end result i.e. dish that you want! Goal-setting is important because it gives you the inspiration and motivation to do what you need to do to get from A to B. But it’s important to have a nice mix of goals - little ones and big ones because successes come big and small and you still need to learn to appreciate the little ones so you can really embrace the big ones.

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How far ahead do you plan? When do you usually start planning and why then?

Juliet Tripp: I'm a bit of a planning enthusiast, so I make plans and goals for the year, quarterly, weekly and also just to do lists for the day! Whilst I'm a huge advocate of the idea that you certainly DON'T need to wait until January to goal set and plan, it's a time which does have an exciting feel to it so I've been doing lots of planning over the last week. I also use Sundays to get ready for the week ahead, taking time to look at my schedule and plan in things like workouts, social content tasks alongside my full time job and any travels or meetings I have.

Duncan Greenfield Turk: I plan each project as soon as it comes in in, setting SMART goals. For my business I review my own plans quarterly and adjust accordingly, this ensures I am able to remain current and also move with the market.

Sabrina Meyers: Well as an event planner, it really depends on when the events are. Sometimes I get the luxury of 6 months out and sometimes I need to plan in 2 months or less! I usually plan out the work load, schedule the activities according to the timeline of when I’d like certain things to be done by and then take it step by step till the final event day. With my business, I have a year plan and then a quarterly plan so I have an idea least 3 months out of what is coming up in the next quarter.

Holly Moore: I would say I work best to a year planning. I just feel like everything can change in a moment so I work best with short term goals. When I need to refocus I go away somewhere and plan but my key times of year are January and March

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What techniques, methods or tools do you use? How do they help you?

Juliet Tripp: Whilst I use google calendars at work, which is a huge help in keeping us all on track, I'm a big fan of an 'on paper' diary. Mine is HUGE and the days span from 6am - 10pm which is a huge help; working in the world of events mean hours are often not as conventional as a 9-5 job and I'm an early riser which means I like to plan my day starting early.

Duncan Greenfield Turk: I use Hubspot to do lead tracking, marketing emails, revenue tracking, general client and account work

I use for all my social media and then anything else I can get my hands on that simplifies and streamlines the work load.

I would highly recommend both a CRM and a social media tool. For example, I usually sit down weekly for 1 hour and plan out all my content for the following week, slotting this in around any large pieces I am working on.

My newsletter is weekly and ties into my content so this again saves time and allows me to focus on other elements.

Sabrina Meyers: I’m a very old school person so it’s really paper calendars - the ones with those big boxes per day so I can put my activities in and mark things out and see it nice and clear in front of me. And of course, in an electronic format I’m all about coming up with my own Excel sheets. I’m a very visual person so I need tools that allow me to see my schedule, goals, activities and plans outright or at a glance.

Holly Moore: I am writing my own method at the moment called “Anything is Possible” it’s a mix of Tony Robbins, Rachel Hollis, Kikki K and my own strategies that work for me.

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Do you review your plans and achievement throughout the year? When do you find it useful to do this?

Juliet Tripp: Absolutely! I'm always checking in with my goals, weighing up the resources I have, whether I need to change anything to get me closer to making things happen. It's an ongoing process for me but a quarterly / mid year check in can be really helpful as well.

Duncan Greenfield Turk: Yes, every quarter I evaluate and assess by the following rule..

What worked, why do I believe it worked and can it be duplicated, what didn’t work, why do I think this did not worked, what are the learnings from this.

I also chat to peers constantly to see what they are doing and if anything can be used to help grow my own business.

Sabrina Meyers: I try to. Sometimes work gets so much that it’s hard to consistently evaluate but definitely every 6 months, I take stock of what I’ve achieved versus what I set out to achieve.

Holly Moore: Yes, I write my goals every day but as I journal I read back and review how far I have come. If I have a challenging time I will read about a challenging time I have had in the past and how I overcame it

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What tips do you have for other eventprofs when it comes to planning and goal setting?

Juliet Tripp: Draw upon the incredible experience you have as an event planner! We can spin plates and make minute by minute schedules like no other.. so channel a bit of that drive and motivation into your own planning and you can go really far. With goals, write them down as though they have already happened, then write them down again, then tell someone! Accountability is one of the biggest problems people face when it comes to setting goals so I find these steps can really help.

Duncan Greenfield Turk: For me I would suggest: start small, don’t try to do everything at once. Set 1 short, 1 medium and 1 long term goal and then work backwards. Also stop and recognise the work you have done and are doing – that’s something I know I don’t do enough of.

Sabrina Meyers: Have bite-sized goals every month you want to achieve. And they could be things like in January you want to finish reading 2 books - one for personal development and one for pleasure. And then larger goals for the quarter like first quarter I want to have successfully completed managing 3 events. (That’s mine but it could be different to someone else’ of course!) It’s nice to be consistently pushing yourself to achieve smaller goals on the way to reaching your bigger goals.

Holly Moore: Looking at your whole year and scoping out the entire space. What are tour down falls? Where are your weak points? Do you have a particularly busy time and need to plan time off. I have a training module called make you month when you can scope the entire year. Everyone has different weaknesses. I try and limit boozy nights too much in the week, in case I have to work late.

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Amongst all the praise of goal setting an planning though, it has to be acknowledged that it is not for everyone. Fiona Thomas Mental Health Blogger tweeted over Christmas:

"To all the people who are too burnt out to even *consider* planning their goals for 2020, I hear you. It’s OK to wait until you’re ready. It’s OK to rest and love yourself. Productivity is not proof of your existence.!"

Health and well being is increasingly being raised as a priority in the event industry and although goal setting may help reduce anxiety and motivate some, it isn't for everyone and can cause added pressure. However, burnout is something that I think many event planners have experienced, so hopefully, the tips from the event planners above are helpful for anyone considering this technique. Sometimes embracing small changes in habits help make the biggest difference to you having a sense of wellbeing.

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