Erin Cantwell Co. Year End Celebration

‘Tis (almost) the season for…

  • New Year’s Resolutions
  • Annual business reviews
  • & goal setting

I know it can be tempting to cruise, full steam ahead, into planning, goal setting, and the next shiny new thing as the year comes to a close. We want to put all of our “flaws”, “failures”, and “faux pas” behind us and start fresh. But I want you to press PAUSE.

Step away from the New Year’s Resolutions. 

I repeat: Step away from the New Year’s Resolutions.

Yes, I am the QUEEN of all things planning. I love tackling a new goal. And I firmly believe in striving for the shiny new things that light us UP in our business

So why am I telling you to slow down and pump the brakes?

Because as essential as goals, dreams, and visions are, reflecting on how far you’ve come in your business is JUST as important. 

When you take time to celebrate progress, all of the messy, beautiful progress you’ve made over the last 365 days you’ll…

  • Develop wisdom
  • Build confidence
  • Track your progress
  • & identify the impact you’ve already made through your work. 

It makes reaching those major milestones feel that much sweeter while keeping you grounded in your values so you can make a true impact on your community. 

That’s why before I set a single…

  • Goal
  • Resolution
  • Vision

I celebrate FIRST! 

Before you dive into your formal business “Year-End-Review”, I invite you to participate in a new tradition: the “Year-End-Celebration.” 

In this blog, we’ll explore the value of celebrating both the major milestones and the smaller stepping stones before pushing forward into the new year.  I’ll share my wins from this past year to demonstrate how I celebrate progress in my own business. I’ll offer actionable prompts to help you shine a light on all you’ve achieved over the past 365 days. You’ll walk away feeling grounded in your values, in awe of your impact, and inspired to set aligned goals with positive intentions for the new year.

Why You Should Celebrate Progress Before You Set New Goals

Typically, New Year’s Resolutions and Goals involve:

  1. Beating ourselves up for all the things we didn’t get around to over the past year.
  2. Setting goals out of obligation instead of alignment.
  3. Moving through life and business with tunnel vision. 

When we celebrate FIRST, we get to approach resolutions and goal setting differently. Let’s explore why you should celebrate progress FIRST and plan SECOND!

Shift into a positive mindset

New Year’s Resolutions and year-end reviews tend to focus on the negative: the “coulda”, “woulda”, “shouldas.”

You see, we are really good at zooming in on the “failures” in our businesses and so quick to dismiss the wins, especially the ones we think are small or seemingly insignificant.

Without even realizing it, these processes can leave us focusing on what we HAVEN’T yet accomplished in our work. While it is important to address areas of improvement for the future, I think we need to balance this with a more positive outlook. 

So before you assess, analyze, and judge yourself for the things you didn’t achieve in your business this year, I think it is 10 times more important to celebrate all of the progress you DID make in your business and through your overall impact. When you take the time to reflect on how far you’ve already come you’re able to:

  • Build your confidence
  • Shift into a positive mindset
  • Prepare to set clear, focused, intentional goals

This positive energy is, after all, what we each strive to bring with us into the new year. It will help you feel optimistic about confronting those seemingly insurmountable challenges and goals ahead of you. 

Redefine What Success Means to You

In addition to helping you close out the year on a more positive note, celebrating your successes can also help you identify what success looks like for YOU. Everyone’s version of success looks different. For some people, success is time freedom, while for others it might be all about financial freedom. 

Does this sound familiar?

It’s December, and you’re about to start paper mache-ing another vision board. But you can’t help but feel haunted by the resolutions of seasons past. Suddenly, a goal-setting practice that once felt exciting and inspiring, feels a bit judgy and critical instead.

I get it. It can seem like those glossy images are staring back at you, taunting you with reminders of all the things you haven’t achieved yet. Top that with the endless ads, commercials, and social media posts highlighting your “not-enough-ness” and you’ve got the perfect cocktail for self-doubt. 

Our vision boards and New Years Resolutions define success as… 

  • traveling the globe
  • quitting our 9-5
  • hitting “such-and-such” figures in our business
  • or publishing a New York Times Bestselling book. 

These are all wonderful things to strive for. But if major milestones are the only way you define your success as an entrepreneur, you become blind to all of the other ways you have succeeded in your work. Worst of all, if you haven’t met those very specific, lofty goals just yet, it can be easy to feel like you’ve failed. 

We become blind to the journey when we only fixate on the destination.

This year I challenge you to define your own version of success because success can be found in both the major milestones and the small stepping stones along the way. It’s all part of the entrepreneurial journey. 

  • Sometimes success doesn’t fit on a vision board and sometimes it does. 
  • At times it sneaks up on us at the most unexpected times and sometimes it’s right on time.
  • Sometimes it meets our expectations and sometimes it’s even better than we could have ever planned!

Stop and Smell The Roses

If we are only living for those milestone moments, what’s the point? Because you’re here, I feel quite certain you created your business to live life fully, with eyes wide open. You don’t want to experience life numb, waiting for your next major win. You want to be fully present through all the ups and downs. 

Let’s frame it with a story:

I remember climbing the Empire State Building for the first time when I lived in NYC. You better BELIEVE I was headed all the way to the top. This girl was on a mission. But about three-quarters of the way up, I paused for a moment, looked out, and thought…WOW!

No, I wasn’t at the top.

I hadn’t changed my mind.

I wasn’t giving up. 

However, I did stop long enough to be in awe. Even though I hadn’t met my goal yet, the view was still pretty impressive! I was in awe of the hundreds of steps I had already taken. In awe of the vastness of the Big Apple. In awe of where I was at that moment in time. 

Instead of being frustrated that I wasn’t there yet, or critical of myself for not going faster, I simply allowed myself to be present in the moment. I celebrated how far I’d come, how cool it was to be at THE Empire State Building, and how excited I was to continue my climb with eagerness and anticipation leading the way. 

And then I kept going because I knew things could only go up from there (pun intended)!

I want YOU to feel this in your business as you work towards those skyscraper-like goals and dreams. That’s why I encourage you to pause and celebrate your progress so far. Before you can set new goals (or start beating yourself up for not accomplishing “enough”), why not be in awe of what has already come to pass?

It may seem cliche, but what’s the point of creating a business if you don’t love the day in and day out? If you’re living for the milestones and blowing past the journey, you may be building a business that you feel you’re supposed to want but that doesn’t truly light YOU up.

When we celebrate progress, we remind ourselves that the joy is in the journey!

What Should I Celebrate in My Business?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. Every entrepreneur should celebrate the things they are most proud of. I will preface this by saying that we can celebrate both the big milestones and the seemingly small stepping stones along the way. Both are worthy of celebration and recognition. 

What are major milestones?

Let’s think of entrepreneurship like a road trip. You hit your major milestones when you arrive at the destinations you map out ahead of time. They are usually planned out in advance and it’s clear to know when you’ve arrived.

What are stepping stones?

The stepping stones are the events that happen along the way as you work towards your destination. Sometimes they’re unplanned pit stops, roadblocks, or detours that end up making the trip fun and exciting. Other times these stepping stones include the people you’ve helped along the way or the lessons you’ve learned in the process. 

This year I’m celebrating major milestones like…

  • hitting 6-figures for the first time
  • growing my team (we’re officially a team of 3)
  • splitting my time between my hometown and our family beach house
  • Being present for my kids (I live for our twice-daily walks to and from the bus stop!)

These big milestones are accomplishments I’m really proud of. They tend to focus on the events that most profoundly and directly impact my life.

I acknowledge that while I have the major milestones to celebrate this year, not every year has looked this “successful”. Some years I celebrate more of the stepping stones and “goals-in-progress”. These are equally as important as the major milestones because they lay the foundation for future success.

So even when I have major milestones to celebrate, I keep going. I dig deeper. Then I take time to pay attention to, identify, and savor the mini-wins I experienced throughout the year that tend to get overshadowed by the “big stuff”. 

I celebrate the stepping stones on my JOURNEY…

  • providing my audience with consistent value through my blog, social media, and email list
  • interviews with Authority Magazine and Thrive Global as well as multiple podcasts (find them here and here)
  • launching a weekly Clubhouse series with my good business pal, Rebecca, called Biz Tips for Creatives (we have BIG plans for this in the upcoming year)

Naturally, this allows me to look outside of my bubble to realize the impact my work has had on the lives of others. I’m able to highlight how I’ve contributed to the success of my clients

I celebrate client wins…

  • One of my clients leaned on my support as she co-founded a new business and hit multiple 7-figures in just two months!
  • Another client launched 2 group programs serving 25 women, created a membership of 100+ members, and made in her first quarter what she made in the entirety of last year…all while serving as the primary caregiver to her two young kiddos!
  • I helped a third client set a foundation for financial success. We reworked their accounting and project management systems to improve their cash flow and get them paid on time, in full.
  • Finally, one of my clients just hired her first 10 employees. Hello, HUGE accomplishment! Talk about making an impact! 

And these are just a FEW of the highlights! I am so honored to support these entrepreneurs as they support themselves, their team members, their clients, and their families! 

As we come to the close of the calendar year, I want to encourage you to celebrate just how far you’ve come. I hope to inspire you with tools to celebrate progress, the journey, AND the milestones along the way. I hope you’ll carve out some time BEFORE pushing ahead to the new year to take inventory of the profound impact you’ve had and will continue to have on your family, friends, team members, clients, audience, and your community at large. 

How to Celebrate YOUR Business Journey and Milestones

I am a big advocate of writing down your wins. Whether you do this as a running list or in a journal format, there is something about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) that makes your successes more tangible when you can see them in front of you. 

I have created these prompts to guide you as you celebrate progress over the past 365 days. You may feel inclined to use all of them, but choosing 1-2 from each section will offer you some great jumping-off points. 

You’ll notice we have 5 sections. In the first two sections, you’ll explore any milestones or accomplishments you’ve made in your professional life and then in your personal life. You’ll dig deeper in the third section, assessing how you’ve served your clients and shaped their businesses. Then you’ll consider the impact you’ve had on your audience. Lastly, you’ll look at the influence of mentors and business besties. 

Celebration Prompts

Acknowledge your business milestones! 

Be sure to highlight the major goals you’ve accomplished without overlooking the smaller wins you’ve experienced along the way. 

  • What goals did I set at the start of the year that I have accomplished (even if just in part)?
  • What’s something I accomplished this year that I never set as a goal?
  • What am I most proud of?
  • What did I learn this year? Have I developed a new skill or mindset? What did growth look like for me in my craft and/or in my role as CEO?
  • When did I confront a challenge or overcome adversity?

Acknowledge your personal milestones! 

Your business has likely created some wonderful benefits in your personal life. Take time to reflect on how your lifestyle has improved over the last year.

  • What has my business added to my personal life this year?
  • How has my business supported me, my family, and my friends?
  • How has my business positively influenced my lifestyle?
  • What hobbies/interests have I pursued outside of my work?
  • How have I been able to care for my emotional and physical health?

Notice the impact you’ve had on your clients

Your most direct impact is on the clients you serve. We often take for granted how we help, inspire, and support our clients in their lives and businesses.

  • How many people or companies have I been able to serve this year?
  • What wins have my clients experienced in their businesses? 
  • How have I supported my clients or helped them achieve their goals?
  • Which clients light me up the most? What do I value most in these partnerships?
  • What is my favorite piece of testimonial from a client (if you don’t have any yet, be sure to reach out for feedback)?

Reflect on how you’ve served your audience

It is important to take time to consider how you’ve gotten involved in your community, your niche, or your industry.

  • How have I decided to show up for my audience this year?
    • Did I finally start that blog? Have I gotten my email newsletter up and running once a month (even if my initial goal was to email my list weekly)? Did I chime in on Clubhouse about my industry experience? These are easy to overlook but most likely every one of these experiences served someone in your audience, whether you realize it or not!
    • Did I present at a conference? Participate in a panel? Volunteer on behalf of my business? 
  • What freebies did I share and how does this information help people?

Remember that when you share, you are always helping the person a few steps behind you reach their success sooner. Do your part to lift others while you rise and be in community over competition.

Express Gratitude for your mentors and business besties

  • Who do I consider mentors in my business? 
  • How have these mentors helped me grow, serve, and improve this year? 
  • What opportunities have presented themselves because of this mentor?
  • How have I witnessed growth in my mentors? Can I use these celebrations as a reminder of what is possible for me?
  • What connections have I made with peers, fellow business owners, and business besties? Have these relationships led to referrals, workshops, or opportunities to collaborate? What successes in my business are a result of my network?

Now that you’ve reflected on all of the communities you interact with regularly, I hope you see the impact beyond the milestones. Every win (big or small) you achieve has a positive ripple effect on your life and the lives of those around you. 

After you write down your big milestones and the smaller wins you’ve experienced along the way, I encourage you to share these with your team members, clients, mentors, or business besties as you see fit. Who knows, it might spark a wonderful conversation and encourage them to celebrate progress, what they’ve been most proud of in their own work over the last year. 

Some other ways to celebrate progress:

  • Treat yourself! Take yourself out for ice cream. Go to the spa. Hit the snooze button. Buy yourself a gift to commemorate your progress. 
  • If you have a team, maybe you DO host an end-of-year party to celebrate!
  • Send letters of gratitude to the people who helped you reach your goals. Thank them for their impact on your life and business. 

Become Your #1 Fan

It is easy to bypass the celebration. It’s easy to get caught up in the “woulda”, “coulda”, “shouldas” of the entrepreneurial journey as you work towards one goal after another. It’s easy to give in to the messaging that you aren’t doing enough or you aren’t good enough. There’s plenty of that to go around!

But we built our creative businesses to live life differently. To be there for the people we love. For positive impact on our communities. To develop strong relationships with our peers and mentors. It all starts with you

When you prioritize celebration over comparison, you become your #1 fan. Your biggest cheerleader. This mindset shift ensures that you set goals with good intentions, believe in yourself when things get tough, and have collected evidence to prove that you are capable, worthy, and ready right now! 

Wishing you a year ahead full of things to celebrate, strive for, and enjoy. 

Once you’ve reflected on your year-end-celebration, I would love to hear from you! Send me an email by clicking here. Tell me about your biggest milestones and your foundational stepping stones. I can’t wait to celebrate with you!

Cheers to becoming your own #1 cheerleader and celebrating ALL of your wins. I truly believe it’s the foundation to setting powerful, aligned resolutions and goals for the year ahead. 

Don’t forget to help others learn to celebrate their progress by sharing on Pinterest!

Step away from the New Year’s Resolutions. Because as essential as goals are, taking the time to celebrate progress is JUST as important.
  1. […] your time and energy into your side gig full-time– FIRST, I want to offer you my most sincere CONGRATULATIONS! This is a tremendous step in your life and your career. Whether you decide to go for it now or in […]

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