I’d like to introduce you to a quarterly cadence ritual, or process if you will – but this goes deeper than financial spreadsheet or business goals.
At the end of every quarter, I take myself and my M-Club Mastermind through this realignment process, and over the years this has become one of the most beloved and powerful business tools for our clients.
This is about giving yourself the opportunity to review the last three months and to reset yourself for the coming quarter. I’m pulling the curtain back on this retreat-like ritual where you can tune in, come back to center, re-anchor to your word of the year and reflect in a much bigger manor.
With this you can look at what’s working, what’s not, and where you want to place your focus next. Plus, I’ve sprinkled in examples of how I do this each quarter. Tune in as I walk you through the steps that I and 1000s of my clients have used to intentionally evaluate their business.
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Take some time away each and every quarter, and do the thing that I call honor your business and honor your soul.
Welcome to The Soul-Sourced™ Podcast, unconventional business advice for the highly creative, secretly sensitive and wildly ambitious entrepreneur. I’m your host, Christine Kane. Let’s do this.
Good morning or whatever it is for you, but it’s morning for me. It’s still dark here. It is the morning of our first day of the M-Club Mastermind Retreat here at Uplevel and M-Club is the group coaching that I lead and is set up for entrepreneurs for 2021. And this is our first retreat. And so of course I’m up early. And even though I’ve done this now for 12 years, I’ve led these for 12 years, I still get super excited, a little bit nervous and yeah, you would think that would change, but it doesn’t. And so I’m up early and I thought I would go ahead and make a podcast based on the theme of what we’re all about during this M-Club retreat, which is a quarterly check-in. So I’ve set it up. I used to do three retreats a year for my masterminds, and then it just really struck me that if I was going to be congruent with my own self and my own personal cadence for how I keep a business rolling, that I would have to switch it to quarterly.
And that’s what I want to talk about today is my own process that then led to how I lead my M-Club clients in a process that starts off our, each of our quarterly retreats, because I think it’s super important as entrepreneurs that we realize that there needs to be some time to step away, and as way too many people say, and you’re probably tired of hearing, to work on your business, not just in your business. And it’s a time to reflect and it’s a time to contemplate. And for me, it’s really a time to get intuitive and go deeper, which is what a lot of people forget that this is not all just strategy and left brain answers. Sometimes it’s sort of a way to drop in and really not just think hard, but really be with what’s happening.
And with that said, I’m going to say, yes, it’s great that I woke up early. It’s dark outside. There’s no birds, but, um, I got, I got a new kitten. I have a kitten here and I don’t even know how we’re going to get through this retreat because you’re going to hear kitten noises in the background because Finnegan is very, very excited about this kitten. And he runs around and chases her and then he jumps on her and then there’s hissing, and so given that I’m still doing the work from home thing, you’re going to have work from home noises. And that’s what happens when Christine gets a kitten and I’m realizing, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep this little thing she’s adorable, but I’m just not sure if I’m going to do it because I’ve gotten so used to just the one cat thing, but that’s, that’s the noise you’re going to hear in the background.
All right. So let’s talk about this whole quarterly cadence piece. And I will be honest with you, if you’re a, you know, seasoned entrepreneur and you’re one of those people who’s had business forever. I am not that person. I come from a family of academics. I come from a family that had summers off. I, I, no one thought in terms of the mindset of entrepreneurship, even the mindset of being an artist like I was for 15 years. The amount of management and whether that’s self-management, mind management, business management, that happens, is staggering to me, or was staggering as I learned all of this. And with that said, I did not know the whole, like when I heard someone say things like Q1 and Q3, I just thought they were being pretentious. And like, I’d roll my eyes at it realized, Oh, it’s a thing. Like having a house, having quarters and breaking things down in a, in a quarterly manner is actually a way that can really help you organize the the chaos that is sometimes your business, because there are so many things, it’s just all the things that we do.
And so the quarterly cadence is something to really start considering if you haven’t before, because I know some of you who listen are new business owners, you are solo business owners and no one, no one gets worse, I think at this, then the newbies and the solos, because you’re just sometimes trying to keep your head above water. But what I’m going to urge you to do is look at your year and at some point, and for some of us, it’s going to have to be weekends, and for some of us, it can be a weekday. Uh, I know for me, I’ve done it in the past, where, when I had a mastermind, like with Dan Sullivan, I would fly up to Toronto to be with Dan for a day, and then I’d stay an extra two days, and I would do my quarterly there and in a really beautiful hotel room and really take extreme care of myself while I was there.
And I have some of my clients from M-Club who have gone and gotten hotel rooms for this retreat and they’re in Florida and they’re in beautiful locations. And I just love that. It really shows that you’re, you’re honoring yourself and your business, and that’s a really big thing. So it’s, uh, what we want to do is really think about at the end of each quarter, and so that would be at the end of March at the end of June at the end of, Oh my goodness. My brain is just having a little bit of a brain fart, April, may, June. So end of June, July, August, September, end of September, and then October, November, December. So yes, that’s how we would do it. And, and I, I try to take a full two days, but sometimes I will say, it’s fine to just do it on, I’ll sometimes just do this on a Sunday. And I walk through a specific set of questions and a specific way of just being, and that has evolved over time. And so I’m going to walk you through what I do and how I brought it to the, uh, structure of my masterminds.
First though, I want to talk about what this is all about, because I think a lot of times we like to think that when we make plans, they should happen, when we set intentions, that’s just how it works, and that’s what this is for is to kick and take names. And I don’t really look at it that way. I actually look at it as a way to tune back in, or as Tara Brock calls it coming back to center. I really think it’s a way that a business owner and an entrepreneur can come back to center and remember what they’re all about and who they are, and kind of re-anchor to your word of the year to your intentions for the year and, and reflect on what’s going on in a deeper way.
And with that said, I have a song… I’ve said with that said a lot, I apologize for that, I have a song called Overjoyed, and it’s one of those songs that is one of my favorites that I’ve written, not because I think the end result was so huge, but because I wrote it in December in right before new year’s and I was convinced, I would never write another song again, because everything was dried up. And so I wrote this, but there’s a line in it that I always think of ’cause it’s funny to have switched from being an artist, to being an entrepreneur when entrepreneurship seems so based on goal setting and going out and kicking and said, you know, reaching your goals.
And the line goes in spite of……, In spite of….. If I’m not singing it I don’t remember it… “In spite of daytime planners, higher standards, dreams defended, there’s not a single thing that’s turned out quite like I intended.” And I want to bring that up, not to quote myself cause that’s obnoxious, that sounds kind of douchey, doesn’t it? But, Oh, well I did it. The intention, the idea of intention, I think we can get very broken with ourselves and think that while I set intention and then it didn’t work out exactly the way I set it, so something must be wrong with me. And that’s not at all the case. When you’re doing this work, that’s why I say every quarter you want to check back in because the habit is what starts to shift you, not the fact that you set a goal and you went out and did it, the habit, the realignment, the reconnection, the reintervention, the re decision, the coming back to center. That’s what we’re going for.
So if I’m saying this to you, and this is just now coming to light, like, wow, this would be a good thing to do, realize that the first time or even second time you do this, you may not sense anything different, and you may actually feel like, well, this is overwhelming, but habits start to become habits and rituals and they start to show you what realignment looks like through experiencing it. There is no amount of teaching I can do here. That’s going to teach you, you, it’s going to teach you your business. You have to do this and show up and commit to it, and then that’s what teaches you. So that’s all a precursor to say, you know, here’s what I do each and every quarter.
So the first thing is for people who are new and don’t think this way, one of the key things before you sit down to do this, and this might be the first thing you do at your quarterly retreat this year, is you want to really think in terms of categories. It’s been helpful to me to break things down. And if you have a small, you know, you’re just getting started, your business would break down into the categories of things. And I shouldn’t tell you this, because this is something that’s going to help you. But you want to think in terms of your marketing, you want to think in terms of your selling, you want to think in terms of your operations or your, you know, your team, and like really break the business down into the segments, which is something I never did very well with music because I just sort of I’d write songs and then I’d go do work. I just did not have a recognition of the different types of brain activities that were required. And once I started to really set up categories in my business, it really taught me how to work more effectively as a musician.
So for me right now, just to give you a bit of insight into where I’m at in terms of how I categorize things, I don’t do it like within my business as much, ’cause I do that naturally now. This has started to become, you know, a little easier in my brain, but if, um, I have several other businesses, cause I have business, I have properties that I’ve bought and I, yeah, several of them, I’ve turned a little bit into real estate crazy, but so I break it down with those different properties, what needs to happen. I look at my own, um, my book was its own category because I didn’t just lump that in with business because there was so many pieces and parts of that project. You know, if I have a specific project that’s happening in my business, I will put that as its own category, but I’ll sit down and I will kind of just lay out all the different categories in places. And of course I always include one for personal. My, uh, even in, in M-Club, when we do this, I always encourage people not to exclude personal stuff that’s going on. Especially, you know, some people are really looking at their health, their wellness, their sleep, their children, whatever it might be that I don’t segment out business, and I don’t set up categories to try to segment out my life. It helps me just to review and for review purposes to do that. So that all of that is to say really sitting down and thinking, what are all the different categories? Because the truth is, it’s what we bring to those segments that really matters and how we think about them. And it also helps us sort of organize the chaos that is our mind that can have taken over over the last three months.
So then after I’ve got that kind of all settled and I just sit down and I’m also very, I don’t like the word mindful because I think it’s overused right now. I really set this up so that everything’s turned off. I don’t have the computer on. I don’t, hopefully Finnegan is not attacking the kitten, but that’s unavoidable right now, but I really try to have a retreat like environment around me when I do this, and I don’t have the team meetings. It’s really a day where I’m kind of moving back and forth between doing writing and doing reflecting and taking walks. And what I do, what really works for me is I do this in written form. If you have a partner or a friend or somebody that you could do this with, you could, you know, do this with each other and say it out loud. But I just happened to really believe that handwriting, and sometimes I do it in Evernote as well, so I’ll be honest there, but handwriting really does help me. I just somehow connect my heart and my brain in my hand and really helps me think more clearly.
So what I will do is the first thing I will do, and we have a tool here at Uplevel that we start our, our retreats off with is that I will say, you know, the first thing I will do is a list of what I accomplished. And I have one column that is what I accomplished. And then in the column next to it, I have a second column, which is going to sound a little unconventional and maybe a little weird, but it says why this is so great. And I will tell you why that’s so important. We can accomplish so many things. And a lot of us have a bit of a problem in our own head of judging that it’s either not good enough or not like that other person that we saw out there or not very important, whatever it might be.
And so the why this is so great really causes us and forces us to pause and look at our own blocks and obstacles that we’ve gotten over, because you know, let’s, you know, I’m going to, I can’t believe this word just came into my head, but we will harken back to the episode that I did about my coach walking me through each and every one of those producers when I was a musician and getting rejected by those producers, that doesn’t seem like a big accomplishment to somebody who is naturally wired to go kick ass and you know, be confrontational and put themselves out there. But it was a big freaking accomplishment for me to go out, put my stuff out there, get rejected and take those steps. So why this is so great is your way of honoring you getting over obstacles and your obstacles.
This, this is where you have to go a little deeper, cause it’s like, it’s not going to be something like what I accomplished while I got my first client for $2,500. We’ve had a lot of people get their first big clients, um, in M-Club. And I will do a shout-out. There’s been several people who have gotten their first big package clients. I had somebody who had her biggest January ever. Um, I’ve had people have their first five-figure month and this is huge stuff and that’s awesome, but that can, it can seem like why this is so great. It can seem like, well, duh it’s because I made so much money, you know, and no, I’m really asking you to look deeper because for somebody who got their first $1,200 client, it meant that she probably, or he probably had to get over some serious mindset stuff that said you’re only worth 150 an hour or nobody else in this industry does this or this person first went away and you did a, follow-up like really looking at what it took from you so that you’re celebrating you and self-coaching in the best way possible.
And so you’re going to go through and, and you’re going to really, really like mine every month of this quarter and mine every week and also include personal victories. So in mine, I actually started after, after last year’s quarantine, I had, I didn’t know, health stuff. I did some, I kept up with my labs cause I do blood labs every, quarter with my doctor, but I didn’t keep up with just normal, you know, mammogram like stuff. And I did some of that, this first quarter. So I’ll put that on there because I didn’t feel like it I’ve had a hard time coming out of hiding kind of, and I’m okay with that. I’m not like, ashamed of it, I just haven’t really felt like going and doing medical stuff. So it’s a big deal that I went and I, I started doing some self-care things and stuff that needed to happen. So include those. Include personal, include everything. This is where we really just mine it all and put it out there and make sure you add in why this is so great.
Okay, So that’s the first thing that you do. Now I’m not going to go through every single thing we do in the Focus 360 tool, but what I will tell you, the key thing I always remember to do after that is that that’s kind of my little celebration. And then I look at each and every category that I have, and I ha I start with a list of what’s working. So I look at everything that’s working now in the business, typically this, at this point it’s business, but sometimes I’m celebrating cool things in my house or in, you know, something else that I’ve done, but what’s working. And that might be you hired someone who’s a rockstar, or it could be that, you know, you’re starting to finally learn how to send out warm letters or do your launch campaigns.
Great. Just all you’re doing is making a list of what’s working. And this one can be harder because our brains are wired to look at all the stuff that’s not working, but we’ll get to that, but you really, really want to work at, on looking at what’s working, and some of us, If you’re somebody who’s a little bit more doubtful, dubious, uh, pessimistic, this is going to be something where I’m going to ask you to sit a little, uh, longer than you might, to really mine for what’s working and even stuff that feels like, well, this is working, but that’s what I always do. Well, this is working, but this other part of it’s not working. You want to really look at what’s working. And then after that, you want to make a list of what’s not working. And then you’re just going to exhaust everything you can see that’s not working.
And of course, you want to make sure you coach yourself well enough that you’re looking at, is this thing that’s not working a lot about my mindset, my exhaustion, my fatigue, versus like, it’s really not working? So that’s, that’s a big thing to look at. And of course, this is me bringing the Enneagram in because I, I look at the Enneagram so much, some numbers, some patterns are wired to go a little bit into the, Oh, I’m just going to say doubtful, dubious, dark sides of things. And so that’s fine. It’s just know that about yourself. And, and this is that part of getting to know you and really being aware of what you’re doing here each quarter in your business. And it’s part of the habit. Cause sometimes you can sort of see it and say, yeah, I can let that go.
So you have these lists then, you have this list of what’s working. You have this list of what’s not working. And then what you want to do at this point is create a new, I hesitate to do this because some of you, some people who are listening really need to go into that left brain, strategic, to-do side, and some, some of you might need to do a little bit more reflecting at this point. And this is where knowing yourself really comes into play. So what we’re going to do though, is we’re going to create a list that we’re going to call start, stop, and keep. So start, stop, keep is based on, you’re going to go through each and every item on your what’s working list and you’re going to look at it from the perspective of why is this working? Like, is it working because I got into a habit or routine? Is it working because I hired the right people? Is it working because our meetings are starting to get better?
And then you’re going to say, okay great, we’re going to keep doing our meetings like this. You’re going to write, that’s going to go on the keep list. And you’re going to look at, you know, that typically things that are on your what’s working list are going to lead to a keep list. Then on your stuff that’s not working, what I do is I’ll look at what needs to start happening here. And, and if it’s something big, then I don’t just sort of blow it off, like, Oh, well, we’ll get to that. I just kind of look at that, that’s going to be a bigger thing and what needs to stop happening here. And this is where you sometimes will look at, you know, maybe you’re tolerating somebody on your team, or maybe you’re tolerating something about your office, or maybe you’re tolerating something about how you work and you may have to that on the stop list, or maybe it’s, uh, you know, you don’t want to call it stop, ’cause we don’t just stop things sometimes, but you want to really be clear. You don’t just don’t bullet these out, like just, you know, as if I’m just taking off a list, I really like clearly write what needs to stop. I don’t go into like the process of how it needs to stop, but I do write what needs to stop. And then this, this whole thing, mining all of this takes a little while. And then what I often do is I pause and I that’s, when I’ll go have a meal, I’ll reflect, I’ll go for a big, long walk. And then I come back and I really dive into each item that is, that, that is the most important right now.
Now sometimes you have to kind of ferret out what’s most important right now versus this big, long list of things that seems to go on forever and ever and ever. But I will, you know, I’ve gotten better at really looking at things that are small things versus big things. But what I do is I do a lot of long-form writing about each and everything. And sometimes it’s just a brain dump of writing. And then I start to really look at all right, and this is where we land, and this takes us three days in our M-Club Retreat. What I land on after doing that review, and I know that I’m leaving you with some nebulous stuff right there, because this is where you have to get to know you, I come up with something that’s called my Five Primary Up Levelers, meaning five primary focus areas for the coming quarter. These are not tasks and to do’s, these are key areas that I’m focusing on.
So to give you an example, obviously, when I was writing my book, book writing was always like, writing the book was always a big one. And if I was being very specific, I would narrow it down to a section of the book. Like I knew when I was on section three, that’s what I was really going to be focusing on. And granted, I write in such a chaotic manner that I sometimes jump back and forth, but I would know that the general focus was getting that section done or getting this chapter done or whatever it might be, or maybe just, you know, in the early stages, three chapters. And so typically I know that a lot of you are fans of the book, Um, “One Thing” which I, I really get that, you know, for most of us, if we could be focused on one thing and one thing only that would be wonderful, but I, I have seen in real life that doesn’t always happen. And ideally you would pick three primary up levelers, but I, I find that it really helps to say, you know, put five on there. Typically you’re only gonna focus on three.
The ideal is typically I have seen that most people can really only focus on three primary up levelers, but it’s fine. We like to give you the freedom to write down five. And what I mean by a primary up leveler is that your focusing on this thing will do magical things for your business or magical things for you personally. And I always tell my M-Club clients to keep at least one thing on there that’s personal, and so that we know that this is something that they’re really optimizing or working with or some area of rest or restoration in their personal life. So I make, I list these five primary up levelers and I actually have, um, a write board by my desk and those go up on there to keep me focused on what they are.
Now, what I do with each, and every one of them is a write down if there’s any questions that have come up like, what are very clear questions. And I’m not going to go into teaching how to write questions or how to come up with very clear, uh, empowering questions. But what I do is I’ll write down any questions or things that feel undone about them, but mostly I will really just, I know this is going to sound woo, but I’ll just kind of be with them. I don’t try to make big, giant lists of tasks because my brain is such that if it gets too long and too overblown, I will want to give up and I won’t want to exist in the next quarter, but I leave those up there knowing that each and every week when I do my Sunday summit, that’s when I can really focus on breaking it down. But what I have found in terms of quarterly processes is that this is enough to recenter and realign rather than trying to decide exactly and determine exactly which tasks and which to-do’s are going to be done.
And one last thing I will say, that’s kind of a bonus, extra credit that I, I started to do, um, when I was flying from Toronto, when I worked with Dan Sullivan, when I was flying from Toronto back to Asheville, I started with my, with my little five primary up levelers. This was a bonus thing and I don’t do this much anymore. ‘Cause I, I don’t have this, I’m operating a little differently within myself. But I think as we evolve, we start to come into different ways we work and ways we think in our business, but what I would do, what I’d, I would write down five things that I wanted to have completed, to be able to say I completed or were achieved in that quarter when I come back the next time and I had a dedicated notebook for this, and so I was able to check to see if that happened each and every time. And so the next quarterly self summit that I would do would start off with me looking at the five things that I wrote down to see, you know, did that work, did that happen, and then be able to add that to the celebration list. And I will say in all transparency, there were times where I did get all five done, but for the most part, I got two to three done, but it always felt really fun on the plane to say, what would be something that I can say, and I’d write it in present tense. And that would sort of wrap up my quarterly thing and then I’d stop thinking about it. Like I just wouldn’t go back to it. I wouldn’t obsess about it, but I, I had my five key things and that’s what I would focus on.
And that’s what I’m going to encourage you to do here as, as it’s, you know, I know some of you, aren’t going to be listening right when the quarter ends or at the time that this comes out, but since this comes out on Sundays, this might be a good thing for you to do If you are listening on a Sunday and get started with, as you know, as we close out our M-Club Retreat, you can start in on your quarterly thing.
And, um, I want to do a quick shout out as I close, Jeff Macado and Roxanne Dyer and Sue Paul, thank you for the, uh, beautiful comments and reviews that you left about this podcast. I know that two podcasts to go, I asked people to go and leave a review and I really, really appreciate yours and they made me smile and warm my heart.
So thank you. And thank you guys for listening. And if you would be so kind as to go leave a five star review, if this feels like a five star of a podcast to you, and maybe this episode was a little rambley and maybe we had a few too many Finnegan interruptions, but I’m hoping that if nothing else, this will get you started in on recognizing how important it is for you to take some time away each and every quarter, and do the thing that I call honor your business and honor your soul by stepping away and really reviewing what’s working, what’s not, and where you could step in and be a little more intentional in your business and in your personal and in yours, you know, spiritual world, whatever it might be.
So thanks for listening everyone. I really appreciate it. And I’ll see you next week.