#043 – The Mega Monthly Report on Business + Life

I’m going to teach you how I do my monthly report and why it matters.

Hint: If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels in your business + life, this is an easy place to start for perspective, clarity, & direction that’s FREE—no hundreds of dollars to a coach or strategist.

Enjoy the story.

Alright, so this is a part of a series.

Today’s the Mega Monthly Report on Business + Life

There’s 2 more episodes coming that I’ll tell you about at the end.

The backstory:

At the end of the year, seeing everyone’s year in photos + reflection writings always gives me FOMO. I wanna participate too!

So in December 2018, when I sat down to reflect on my own year, I seriously thought I’d blacked out. I couldn’t remember very much when I was on the spot thinking about it.

What bothered me was that I hadn’t really documented the unfolding story… I don’t mean make pictures, but I mean really recording the highs, the lows, the events, the milestones, the day-to-day, my own emotions + growth—which is ironic, because I’m a documentarian by nature, right?

If history repeats itself, isn’t it a good idea to pay attention to all of this just enough to keep the lessons we learned fresh?

It’s how we can course-correct or do more of what’s working. You have to see it first.

Luckily, I’d used some day-to-day tools, which I’ll tell you about later, that helped fill in some of the details and I ended up writing my own end of the year review. 

But the feeling of basically arriving at the end of the year like I’d missed 2018 was so big that I committed to myself to do better. Have you ever felt that way?

Hell maybe you feel like you can’t even remember last week, like I do?

We’re moving so damn fast that frequent, intentional pauses to look at what’s quickly becoming our history are a valuable part of self-care.

So, since January, I’ve been doing a monthly report and publishing it on the F&F Journal.

January – March are linked to in the Show Notes Links below.

Now, these are insanely long. I don’t know if anyone actually reads them, but it’s not about content for the site. It’s for me.

I’ll be honest, this takes me a few hours to do, but I honestly feel it’s worth every minute. If you want to do this, you can pick & choose what you record too.

It’s a growing business + life log for ME to look back at. In turn, it’s helped:

  • process emotions: to let some stuff go, to savor the magic in the month
  • and give direction on where to go next.

It’s been really cool to look back at what was happening—especially like how December was rough—and seeing how far I / we’ve come.

My Challenge for You:

So, does this sound like something at least worth trying?

If you’re listening to this as it’s been published, we’re mid-March. You’ve got a couple weeks left of the month.

So, do this:

  1. Ease into this. Dip your toes in.
  2. Focus on the next 2 weeks.
  3. Set some simple intentions, so that at the end of the month, you can do your own report and set yourself up for April.
  4. Publish your report on your website, so I can read it! Email it to me or tag me in on IG.

Here’s The How:

As I’m recording this, I’m working on my February Results & March Intentions and am sharing how I’m doing the report as I go.

Step 1: First, without looking at your intentions, review how you’re feeling in general.

Whatever comes up first: go with that.

For me, right now:

I’m fully enjoying the podcast. The conversations that go on while recording + before & after are so enriching to my spirit. I don’t have coffee dates, I don’t know anyone here yet, so this is like the next, best thing. I’m grateful that I’ve creating a business model where I get to do host the IDP.

The hourglass is moving quick: My kids will be out of school “soon” for summer. Goal: Have a teacher’s work schedule. No-work summers and still make an income. The question on my mind: What do I need to do from now through May?

Why this matters: If we just rollover what didn’t get done, we risk missing some big things we need to consider.

Step 2: Re-read last month’s “what’s on your heart?” to reflect on the growth or what’s derailed you.

For me:

Last month I was feeling a surge of awareness & feeling awake, I was more involved in TPP as it’s opened back up again.

This month, I feel a richer sense of clarity on how I serve. I’d posted on IG how I feel like I’m exiting the photography community & the truth is that I don’t know what community I belong to. It’s all felt isolating and liberating at the same time. Maybe I’m making my own community? Idk.

I’m also not sure why this identity definition matters, but I tend to come back to it nonetheless. No one cares besides me, but I do need to better articulate WHO I help / serve and how, so I think that’s part of it. It doesn’t feel like a clear answer yet, but getting closer.

I’ve helped several people with grief as per success stories I’ve received, so there’s that nugget.

Why this matters: It’s another layer to Step 1 & shows you your progress.

Step 3: Look at the business + life intentions for the last month.

I’ll tell you how these were set to begin with in just a little bit.

Here’s what I set for February and what happened:

  • Write something meaningful everyday. Nope.
  • Launch the 7 Day Storyteller’s Challenge. Yes.

As I go, I’m listening to my thoughts on what comes up around each thing. It may be a lesson, a frustration, or a win. It’s important to acknowledge these things, not just check a box of did / didn’t.

Hint: Check in with this weekly. It’s a time-saver for your actual report.

Example: I fell off the writing challenge wagon and reflected on that in a short note on 2/15. I noticed at the end of January that the reflection took a long time at month’s end in terms of summing it up in works to put on the site, so I printed February’s out and it’s been WAY faster to quickly record my thoughts in real-time.

  • Writing challenge: I put it off & eventually gave it up. It feels like I have to work on my podcast, do my marketing tasks, and serve my audience, which leaves little time for writing. It’s like I’m waiting for all those things to be DONE before I work on this. So, I need to define how I can fit writing in or let go of some of the other things.

You can read all of my February Intentions & Results here. 

Favorite thing from my February Intentions:

Test drive themed work days. It was a slow start, but feeling good at the end of the month. This has been my flow:

  • Monday – Admin
  • Tuesday – Podcast
  • Wednesday – Content or Program Development
  • Thursday – Marketing
  • Friday – Wildcard or Systems

Of course, there’s always room for flexibility, but if I try to stick with this schedule, then nothing gets too far out of sight.

Why this step matters: You’ll capture everything that came up all in one place, so that it’s there for you now and also in 3-6 months from now when you want to look back at what’s been going on. You can see synchronicities in your behavior, energy, problems, etc.

Step 4: Review your Small, Impactful Actions for the Month & Wishlist

Same thing as Step 3, look at what was done, what wasn’t + why, and anything that comes up from these.

Step 5: Reflect on Your Story to Pay Attention To

For me in February:

I wanted to reflect on my family’s story: what our life is like right now. Did I do it? Not really. I’m in a fog. I’ll do a Slow Down session in my Playbook before end of the month (March).

Instead, I worked on TPP actions: editing & canvases for MIL.

Why this matters: THIS is really what we’re all working for isn’t it? Connection to our own lives?

It’s just a matter of choosing to pay attention. I do this with my Preservation Project fam here.

How to Record Family Memories Better

Step 6: Reflect on Impact Made

Who have you helped and who has helped you?

  • Lora Wallenstein: We had a phone convo that made my heart almost burst. She told me, “TPP definitely helped me with the grief process.” That. was. everything. 
  • Susan Ferraro (remember her from episode 013) helped me by calling me out for not showing up as ME. I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit of a performing monkey lately with this tight grip on The Preservation Project.

Step 7: Final reflections

Acknowledge the details & random things that came up.

For me that’s:

  • Love Bombs
  • Stories
  • Lessons
  • Frustration points
  • High & Low Light Reel
  • High & Low of Energy
  • Top Memory of the Month

I have to use my Madness Planner for this. I write what I’m going to do that day (plan my day), but I revisit it at the end of the day to record what actually happened.

Why this matters: As I outlined this podcast episode, I tried to think of these details for this month, and literally couldn’t. My mind was blank. So that little by little recording throughout the month is crucial to pull it altogether at the end of the month.

Details are a powerful thing and that’s exactly what this last reflection step is about.

Ok, so now what?

There’s a TON of information, what do you do with it?

Step 8: Decide what you want to do with it (how you want to use / experience this) and do it!

You’ve already know I’m putting mine in writing on our website. I do this somewhere around the end of month / start of a fresh month.

Maybe you want to keep yours in some kind of a journal. You’ve got to decide that.

They say there’s magic in writing your goals and your feelings, so start there.

I wanted to create a monthly report, so I could remember details of my life—not just the memories with my family, but all of it.

  • How I feel
  • Questions I have
  • Business progress and setbacks
  • Impact
  • All of it

It’s more about processing & moving forward than for remembering.

I chose to publish it on my website to have it in ONE place. It’s long, I don’t know if anyone actually reads it from top to bottom, but it’s more for ME than anything else.

Step 9: So after all that reflection, it’s time to set intentions.

I build this right onto the reflection, so it’s all in one place. One report.

I use the PowerSheets by Cultivate What Matters, because I defined 8 goals at the beginning of the year. I start there to make sure I’m making them a priority. If I just went off of what DIDN’T get done in the last month, then those bigger things would never be tended to.

Then, I do collect the things that didn’t get done in the month prior and decide if I need to carry them over or let them go. Honestly, the PowerSheets guides you through this more in-depth.

I also ask myself, “What’s on my heart?” New things can pop up.

Then, I ask, “What will bring me peace?” That’s my word of the year.

Finally, I ask, “What events are happening this month?” School breaks, appts, fun plans, etc.

So, I break it down into:

  1. Monthly Intentions: these are bigger things that will take several steps to work on.
  2. Small, Impactful Actions: some of these may be repeated, but they’re overall small, punchier individual tasks. Some of these are what makes up the bigger monthly intentions. Some are more of a one-off thing (like mailing in my 2018 Tax Packet)
  3. Wishlist: This gives me what’s on my heart usually! Sometimes it’s a should do, sometimes it’s a wanna do.
  4. A Story to Pay Attention To: pick a person, a story, an experience, that to pay attention to. Part of my Monthly Slow Down Sessions inside of TPP that I use TPP’s Playbook for.

Then, I add all of that to my monthly report and draw from that into my planner each week / day.

Step 10: Keep up with smaller, targeted reports throughout the month.

These are for whatever you’re working on, but mine have been including:

These are all kept separately. The monthly report we’re mostly talking about is more of a LIFE MEETS BUSINESS plan + review that gives me more awareness and direction, but I want you to know it doesn’t end there. These smaller reports are crucial. I don’t make a report for EVERYTHING every month, sometimes it’s quarterly or even more broad.

Point being: the monthly report isn’t the end all, be all. 

Step 11: Check in with your Intentions regularly.

Do a little work, check in, do a little work, check in.

For me, that’s:

  • Weekly or as something pops up
  • Using my Madness Planner daily
  • Doing a Friday 15 (15 minutes to look at my week + what’s next at the end of my workday)

And that’s that!

All this reflection & planning may sound a bit rigid. I’m not against spontaneity or total inspired action, it’s actually the opposite. Kyla Roma has told me to, “Slow down to speed up.”

That’s what this is doing for me.

So, when I speed up, I’m more precise to my values.

In Atomic Habits, James Clear has a chapter on The Downside of Creating Good Habits:

“The upside of habits is that we can do things without thinking. The downside of habits is that you get used to doing things a certain way and stop paying attention to little errors. You assume you’re getting better, because you’re getting experience. In reality, you are merely reinforcing your current habits—not improving them.”

There’s a few directions I’d love to talk about here!

To stay on point, this monthly review + intention setting is about a deep look at your habits on a bigger scale.

The report encompasses the results happening (or not) from your habits, giving you the opportunity for a closer look.

In business, say we blog about something, in a certain way regularly. But, what’s the point of doing it, if it’s not producing a result? Noticing that can allow you to course-correct.

What good is it if we’re photographing everyday, but the way we shoot becomes so autopilot or influenced from outside sources that we no longer refine how we see?

It’s not about being a good or stagnant photographer. It’s that you’re risking completely missing important stories in your life. That’s a big cost.

The Preservation Project can help you with your stories, of course too, but this report is about paying better attention beyond your stories + documenting.

Gut Check Questions:

  • Are you operating on the fly or intentionally?
  • When does on the fly feel like a good thing? When does it cause friction?
  • When does intention feel like a good thing? When does it cause friction?
  • How can you better capture the progression of your own life, goals, and spirit?

Email me questions!!

I’d love to answer Q’s on the podcast from listeners like you on all things documenting, expanding awareness, using your preservation pieces to serve others, and all the marketing + management stuff we’ve been talking about! Visit our contact page to write in.

Have a great week!

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Monthly Report on Documenting Goals and Results

Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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