This newsletter on goals was sent to over 45,000 marketers on 12/31/23. Subscribe today to have advice, news and marketing resources delivered straight to your Inbox every week!
Happy New Year ye auld acquaintance!
I imagine you, like many of us, are happy to put 2023 behind you. I imagine that last year turned out to be a lot harder that you expected it to be.
As my friend Chi so eloquently put it on Twitter, “wow can’t believe 2020 has come to an end.” 🤦🏼♂️
I was reminded of some of the forgotten lyrics to Auld Lang Syne… the verses no one sings anymore… that go like this:
We two have paddled in the stream
From morning sun till night
The seas between us Lord and swell
Since the days of auld lang syne
And boy did we paddle this year. For my part, it’s been one of my most challenging years ever, both personally and professionally – and often not the good kind of challenging that we say we want on resumes. I started the year without the sidekick and best friend I’d come to lean on, traveled more than I ever have before (and gained a new appreciation for those who travel non-stop), and worked through a layoff and complete restructuring of the marketing department at Agorapulse. But I also gained a new best friend, traveled more than I ever have before (and saw new places and met incredible new people), and found new ways to be focused and continue contributing at a high rate at work.
2023 was hard.
But maybe that’s what I needed. Maybe, just maybe… it’s what you needed too. Stick with me for a few minutes and you’ll see why, and why you should reframe how you’re approaching 2024.
Reflect for a moment on the struggles and challenges you faced this year and realize… you didn’t just face them, you endured them. Perhaps even overcame them! Either way, you made it to this point and those challenges… that hardness… has made you stronger and more resilient.
In the midst of a month-long trip to the UK, I was on the train in Paris headed to Charles de Gaul airport to fly back to London, and at the Gare du Nord stop, someone stole my phone. My 21-payments-left iPhone 14 right out of my front pocket, doubtless when there was a mass of people coming and going just as the doors closed and the train proceeded happily and unknowingly to the next stop. The panic set in two stops later when I realized my phone – and everything I needed to travel and survive – was gone.
Obviously I sorted things out because I had nearly a week left in London and time in Dublin after that before I was to head home, but that experience also armed me to better protect myself in such situations in the future, as well as to consider backup arrangements the next time I travel.
It wasn’t the experience I asked for, but maybe it was what I needed.
Now, the past few days and weeks, I’ve been giving tremendous time and thought and energy to considering how I want to approach 2024. What do I want to accomplish? What gives me joy? What do I need to do to be successful professionally, both with my full time job at Agorapulse and my own side hustles?
I spent time writing out goals and tasks and To Do lists. I didn’t try to follow a specific format or restrict my ideas in any way – I just brain-dumped into Evernote whatever came to mind. A lot of it was obvious like get back into shape, earn more money, yadda yadda yadda. But as I kept working on it and reflecting on what I really wanted, some real, hard truths started to emerge.
Some really hard goals and aspirations, in fact.
Then two things happened that brought clarity and focus to me.
First, my dear friend Robin Dimond (one of the most driven and dynamic agency owners I know, an incredible speaker and absolutely amazing person, and a health aficionado) mentioned to me that she was starting up a new challenge for diet and exercise called 75 Hard that I hadn’t heard of. The name and concept really resonated with me and I determined to start a 75 Hard journey myself starting 1/1/24.
Second, the Morning Brew had an entire newsletter devoted to goal setting and in it, they mentioned a variety of goal frameworks including the HARD framework.
If that’s not the universe telling me to embrace this concept of Hard I don’t know what is.
The HARD framework for goal setting requires that your goals meet these aspects:
H – Heartfelt
A – Animated
R – Required
D – Difficult
Aathla Bensla writes a great article here for Risely on how to set goals this way. She also helps illustrate how H.A.R.D. is different from S.M.A.R.T. goal setting, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with.
I won’t bore you with my own goals but I am going to encourage you to not only set goals for yourself for the coming year, to use a framework and a support system to track and attack those goals, but also this:
Embrace the idea that 2024 can and should be harder than you might want or ask for, and that’s ultimately a good thing.
Surrender yourself to the fact that the world isn’t on track to get any easier just because the calendar changes over, and realize that the best option you have is to make your goals harder, your mindset harder, your entire approach harder. As Sean Connery’s character, Malone, put it, “What are you prepared to do?”
I’m not advocating a paranoid, fatalistic view of the future, but rather an approach that recognizes that if we’re prepared for things to be hard, we’ll be in a much better position to succeed and adapt to unforeseen events.
- If I devote myself to improving my health, I’ll feel better and be better prepared for potential health challenges.
- If I devote myself to improving my work focus, I’ll be more productive and better positioned to weather economic storms.
- If I devote myself to improving my relationships, I’ll have the support and friendships I need for when things go sideways next year.
And trust me, things will go sideways next year. So the question is, what are you prepared to do to get yourself ready? Are you going to challenge yourself like Robin and I?
I know you can do it, so that’s my message to you today. I want to encourage you to set challenging goals for yourself for 2024, hard goals, goals that excite you and scare you a little!
Professionally, there are a couple of major changes I’m making that may be of interest to you, that are aligned with some of my new goals.
At Agorapulse, where I had been working through most of 2023 toward implementing a nearbound initiative and strategic brand partnerships, my focus is now shifting 100% to event marketing – online and offline. Doubtless you know I’ve been running our quarterly virtual summits since 2018 and those will continue, as will in person events where I’m planning and executing our brand presence. But I’ll be spending less time on influencer marketing, affiliates, and co-selling initiatives. My Partnership Unpacked podcast is going to go on hiatus once the existing recordings have been published.
Instead, I’m launching a new show: The MarTech Show! Each week starting in Q1, my co-host and I will be talking about the latest developments in marketing technology and doing a deep dive into one particular solution every week by interviewing a fabulous guest. You’ll hear from platforms like Pinterest and LinkedIn, and solutions like ActiveCampaign, BigCommerce, Pictory, eWebinar, Easil and HighLevel. It’ll be a weekly live webinar and podcast, so watch for more on that in the new year.
And I’m getting back to doing what I love most – writing about content marketing! I haven’t spent very much time on Blogging Brute lately because in 2022 I was focused on virtual events and in 2023 I was focused on influencer marketing, industries I wrote about here on The Social Media Hat. (Did you know I have two blogs and side hustles?)
While I know it will be hard, I’m embracing the idea and potential I have to reach and help small businesses to understand and leverage content marketing. Not only am excited for the renewed focus, I’m having a lot of fun putting my own frameworks and philosophies in place as I ramp up my own content to reach and help this new audience.
Like my latest article, “Content Marketing Strategy for Small Business: Crafting Your Roadmap to Success.“
So, what do these new goals mean for you?
That’s a good question. I haven’t finished visualizing what this newsletter will look and sound like in 2024. You’ll definitely benefit from The MarTech Show’s guests and information and will learn about solutions you may want to consider in your own business. And you’ll learn about all of the new and updated content marketing resources I will be dropping on Blogging Brute.
Starting with my new Content Marketing Audit!
Businesses can get a full report on how they’re doing and where they need to improve, from content and SEO to social media and their buyer’s journey. That’s something which may be of interest to you regardless of your business.
And as always, I’m here as a resource to you. I have been working in digital marketing for over a decade and can answer questions from you on content, social media, email, search engines, influencer marketing, affiliates, partnerships, and more. If there’s something that you’re struggling with, hit Reply and let me know.
Wishing you a successful and hard 2024!