233: 7 Questions – Ask Yourself These Questions at the End of the Year with Bjork Ostrom

An image of question marks and the title of the 233rd episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, '7 Questions.'

Welcome to episode 233 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork talks through seven questions to ask yourself as you look to the new year.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Brita Britnell from Food with Feeling about repurposing recipe videos. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

7 Questions 

At the end of each year, we all get a little retrospective. How did this year go? Was it a good year or a not-so-great year? What can I do differently next year?

This episode will help you evaluate the current year in anticipation for the year ahead. Bjork outlines the seven questions you should ask yourself to help you assess, plan, and adjust the way you tackle your business each year.

A quote from Bjork Ostrom’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'Often times there's a different path that will lead you to the same place, but the work is more enjoyable.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How to take a step back and figure out your goals
  • How to get things done by finding the work you enjoy
  • Why it’s important to think about your audience
  • How to improve over time
  • How to figure out what you need to stop or start doing

Listen to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast below or check it out on Spotify:

Resources:

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

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Transcript:

Bjork Ostrom: Hey there, Bjork Ostrom here, you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. And today, we have what’s called a solo episode. And oftentimes, the Food Blogger Pro podcast. It is an interview podcast where we bring a guest on and we have a conversation about their background, their expertise, and we see if we can pull out ways to apply that to the podcast listeners, to you, to your story, to the thing that you are working on and that is my job as an interview host is to do whatever I can to pull out little nuggets that then you can apply and you can do what you’re doing even better after having listening to the podcast, or having listened to an interview with somebody that we have on the podcast. So that’s usually what you hear on the food Blogger Pro podcast. It’s an interview podcast.

Bjork Ostrom: But occasionally we do these solo episodes and a solo episode is somebody coming on the podcast, it’s usually me and just sharing some thoughts. And the thoughts that I want to share today and are actually some questions. These are questions that I like to ponder and contemplate and think through at the end of the year, so we’re coming to the end of 2019 for all of you who listened to the podcast in real time, you know that we are closing out this year and whenever you close out a year, it’s a good time to reflect on the past year and then look forward to the year ahead. And this episode is actually the last new episode that we were doing this year.

Bjork Ostrom: The next episodes we are doing are going to be rewind episodes, which are really critical, important interviews that we’ve done or episodes that we’ve done that we want to make sure that they get exposure again, that we highlight them again in case you missed it or oftentimes to listen through it again, much like a book, a podcast interview can suffice different things depending on where you are in your journey and depending on if you were fully listening to it or not, which I know the episodes of podcasts that I’ve listened to all across the board, I’m mostly paying attention, but then realistically there’s times when I’m not, and when I’ve re listened to podcasts I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t catch that the first time.”

Bjork Ostrom: So that’s our intent with the rewind episode, we have a couple of those coming out to close out the year, but this solo episode will be the last new episode of the year, and I’m excited to share it with you. These are seven questions that I think about and ponder and ask myself as we close out the year and I think these would be questions that would be good for you as a fellow creator, as a fellow, a business builder for you to think about as well, and you can think about these intentionally. Maybe you want to jot them down and actually write some notes on these or maybe you just want to listen to the episode and to think through them as I talk about ways that I ponder these and ways that you could potentially ponder them, whatever works best for you, but the point here is to give a little bit of space, a little bit of time to think through these as we come to the end of the year.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s going to be a little bit shorter episode. Usually with the interviews we go 40 50 maybe 60 minutes or longer. This won’t be quite as long, but we’ll give it as much space and time as it needs. So let’s go ahead, jump in and talk about these seven questions. I’ll share the question and then I’ll share a little bit around that, how you can maybe think about that and contemplate that and why we think it’s an important question.

Bjork Ostrom: Number one question that I like to ask myself as I close out the year. Number one question that you can ask yourself as you close out the year, what am I working towards? And as creators, as hustlers, as people who work really hard to build things, a lot of times we can have our head down and we can be full on work mode 100% of the time, but what we don’t do is we don’t often step back and lift our head up and think, where are we going?

Bjork Ostrom: Right? If you’re driving a boat, it’s really important to occasionally look up and say, where’s the actual destination that I’m going? If we have our head down the whole time, it’s going to be dangerous. The same can be true with the work that we do from business building to content creation. It’s important to step back and think, what am I working towards? For some of us that might be time flexibility. For others, it might be the ability to be with our family more often. For others, it might be a to work on something that you are passionate about and that you really enjoy doing.

Bjork Ostrom: There’s maybe not many areas in your life where you get excited about the work that you’re doing and so by writing or taking photos or doing video, you’re able to work on something that you truly love. But if we don’t take time to reflect on that, to think about that, we can just have our head down and we can continue to grind on the work. And sometimes what we don’t realize is that we’ve actually gotten to a point where in some way we’ve accomplished what we’ve set out to do.

Bjork Ostrom: That might be spending more time with family or having flexibility of what our schedule looks like or even just doing creative work, but instead we can get lost in a different pursuit. We can think, I want to get more page views or I want to get more followers, or I’m just that satisfied enough with how good my photography is.

Bjork Ostrom: And when we get lost in that, we might not realize that in some way, we’ve actually achieved the thing that we want to achieve and we can adjust how we approach our work if that’s true. In our scenario, an example would be one of the things that’s true about this season of life for us is we have our daughter Solvi, she’s a little bit over one year old and I find myself continuing to have my head down working, hustling, might be late at night or I might be responding to emails on a weekend and what I haven’t realized is, hey, what am I working towards? What is the reason that I’m doing this?

Bjork Ostrom: You don’t realize one of the reasons that we do this is to have the ability to be fully present to my family and my friends. And instead, because my head is down because I’m working towards these things without realizing where my destination is, those realities can kind of pass me up.

Bjork Ostrom: So my encouragement to you with this first question is thinking about what are you working towards? To not just work, to build, to grow, to increase numbers, but to think about what does that look like to change and adjust and tweak as you get closer to that thing that you are working towards?

Bjork Ostrom: Now, some of you might be in the early stages in what you’re working towards, you haven’t yet achieved yet. So there is going to be a lot of that late night work, there might be work in the weekends, you might be hustling to make it all happen and that’s necessary, and it’s important, and there are seasons for that. And good for you if you are doing that, and I would encourage you to do that and we continue to have seasons or that’s true for us.

Bjork Ostrom: We’re launching something new or building a new campaign. There’s a new initiative that we want to do. Those are seasons where we go heads down, but I think it’s important to not always be heads down, and maybe that would be another way to look at the other side of the coin with this question, what does that look like for you to step back, to analyze, to think about where you’re going and what does it look like for you to be heads down and to be aware of each time in each season when you’re in that phase? So that’s the first question. What am I working towards?

Bjork Ostrom: Number two, this is a really important one. Do I enjoy the work that I’m doing? I think sometimes we can get caught up in this belief that eventually, once we get to a certain point, the work is going to be more enjoyable. I don’t actually like photography, but once I get to this point, I’m going to enjoy it. Or I don’t actually like writing that much, but this is going to help me get to a certain place.

Bjork Ostrom: But in reality, if you don’t like the work now, there’s going to be a good chance that you don’t like the work later. And with the first question, if we think about what we are working towards, that’s the important thing. And there’s lots of ways, we’ve talked about this on the podcast before. There’s lots of ways that you can get to that final destination. And the important thing to think through with this question, do I enjoy the work that I’m doing? Is, what are the other paths that I could take that would lead me to that other destination?

Bjork Ostrom: So instead of having our head down, grinding away, we can lift our head up and say, “Oh, actually if my goal is flexibility with my time, what are other ways that I could potentially achieve that?” And there’s many different paths that you could take, and oftentimes, there’s a different path that will lead you to the same place, but the work is more enjoyable.

Bjork Ostrom: So those two questions go hand in hand. What am I working towards? And then you can say, do I enjoy the path that I’m on? Do I enjoy the work that I’m doing? And if not, are there other paths that will bring me to the same place that go to the same direction? When I think about what I’m working towards, that would be more enjoyable, the work could be a better fit for what I’m interested in, and what I’m skilled and capable of. That’s question number two. Do I enjoy the work?

Bjork Ostrom: Question one, what am I working towards? Question two, do I enjoy the work? Question three, to think about, who am I serving? In this world, we are creating content, we are publishing concepts. Maybe it’s ideas. We are putting things into the world, and we’re doing that, not for ourselves. There’s an element of that, right? So we want to build something we want to have influence. We want to make an impact in that way. There’s maybe some satisfaction from building your thing that comes from that, but we can’t do that without serving other people.

Bjork Ostrom: This podcast would be an example there. There’s a reason that we do it. It’s valuable for us to have a voice in this space. It’s valuable for us to connect with people. It allows us to share when we have new products that we’re selling or it gives people exposure to Food Blogger Pro.

Bjork Ostrom: But the core purpose of the podcast isn’t to do that. If we showed up and the only thing we talked about was the things that we’re doing or signing up for Food Blogger Pro, nobody would listen to it because there wouldn’t be any value. So we need to think who is it that we are serving and what can we do to level that up to the highest level possible?

Bjork Ostrom: So for you, who is that? Who are the people that you are doing this for? Who is the core audience? And maybe you can even distill it down to one single person. One of the best ways that I think about or that I… One of the easiest ways to create content for the podcast, I’ll say that, is when I think about one or two individuals who I’m speaking to and people who’d be listening in on the podcast.

Bjork Ostrom: So if I’m doing an interview, instead of thinking about the thousands of people that would listen to the podcast, I think, okay, if somebody else was sitting in on this, what would be the questions that they would have? What are the things that they would be curious about? And how can I ask those questions to pull out that information to help that person? And that as you think about content creating, allows you to approach your content in a different way.

Bjork Ostrom: Think about who the person is that you’re serving and as you are going about building your thing, whether that’s a product or a piece of content or it is a concept or maybe it is a campaign to gather around and do something, as you’re thinking about that, think about who the person is or who the group of people are that you’re serving and how you can do the best job serving that group of people as it relates to the thing that you are creating. That’s question number three, something to think about to contemplate as you look towards the new year and reflect on the year past.

Bjork Ostrom: Number four. This is one of my favorites. It’s a concept that we talk about a lot. It’s how am I improving? And we have a big belief here at Food Blogger Pro and with everything that we do, that improvement doesn’t have to be this drastic, massive overnight shift. We are all about this concept of 1% infinity, and that is showing up. It’s making small improvements, and it’s seeking to become a better version of yourself and create a better version of the thing that you are building.

Bjork Ostrom: And that is incremental. It’s over time, but it requires a few different things. Number one, it requires commitment for the longterm, which ties into that second question of do I enjoy the work? If you show up every day and are miserable in the thing that you are doing, it’s really hard to commit to the longterm. But if you show up every day and you love the work, it’s going to be easier to do. It’s going to be easier to improve, and it’s going to be easier to commit to it for a long period of time because even if you strive to get to a certain point to achieve something, and maybe you don’t get to that place, if you still enjoy the process of doing it, then not getting to the destination that you hope to isn’t going to be a loss because along the way you’ve enjoyed it.

Bjork Ostrom: A good example is, if you love to play guitar and you love to sit down and practice and do you have a goal to maybe learn a certain song at a certain point but you don’t get there. That’s okay if you actually enjoy the process of learning and improving. And what’s required with this question, how am I improving? Is making an intentional decision to give time and space for that.

Bjork Ostrom: And it’s helpful for this one to speak to an audience like this because you are people who do that already. And in some ways, you can check this off of the list if you’re creating this little mental list of things to do because you’re doing a version of that. You’re improving by actively listening to a podcast.

Bjork Ostrom: And my guess is, you might listen to this podcast, you might subscribe to it, but there’s probably others that you listen to as. So you are somebody who’s actively thinking about how can I consistently improve? How do I build in pockets to my day or my week to make time for that continual small improvement? And you by listening to this podcast are showcasing that you are somebody who does that.

Bjork Ostrom: So that’s something that I’ve been thinking about personally. In previous versions, previous seasons, it was really easy for me personally to pull out ways that I’m doing this. I would have a block of time in the morning where I’d read 30 minutes to 45 minutes different books that would be on self-improvement or business books or even like finance books, which seems boring to many people, but I love. But in this new season of my life, that doesn’t exist anymore.

Bjork Ostrom: So for me, this is a question that I’m actually spending some time with. What does it look like for me in this new season of my life to continually improve and keep an edge on the work that I’m doing to make sure that I don’t stagnate? That I don’t get to this place where I can show up, enjoy the work that I’m doing, but how am I actually staying on the edge of the curve and learning as quickly as possible and improving as much as possible?

Bjork Ostrom: So this a good one for me, to sit with a little bit, and think, okay, what do I need to adjust in the new year to make space for that? To make time for improvement? So that’s number four. How am I improving? Number three was who am I serving? Number two is, do I enjoy the work and number one is, what am I working towards? Number five, this is actually a question that I love to think about and I probably don’t think about it as much, but doing a little bit of reflection on this towards the end of the year.

Bjork Ostrom: The question is this, what do I need to stop doing? I think a lot of times people like you who are motivated, are excited about new ideas, who are interested in having an impact in the world and in creating something in the world. We think a lot about what we need to do and what we aren’t doing that we should be doing. I think an equally as important question is what are the things that you are currently doing that you can actually stop doing?

Bjork Ostrom: My guess is, if I were to a random guess of the average percentage of things for people who listen to this podcast, the stuff that we’re doing that we don’t actually need to do. I would say, hey, probably 20 to 40% just throwing that out there. Maybe you’re really good and it’s only 5%. But everybody has at least something that you’re currently doing that you probably don’t need to be doing, and this could fall into many categories.

Bjork Ostrom: One category could be something that actually needs to happen. You just can’t stop doing it, but you shouldn’t be the one doing it. And this could be in your personal life. This could be within your blog, a building, this could be within your business. There’s probably things that you are doing that you don’t need to do and a good place to start with this on the business side or even in your personal life, is to think about what are the things that are most important for you personally to do?

Bjork Ostrom: Those are the things that are unique to your skills. Maybe it’s something where people would immediately realize if it wasn’t you, an example would be, okay, if friends invite you over, you can’t have somebody step in and take your place for that. You are essential for that, but there’s probably things within your life that you are doing that you don’t actually need to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s you doing it or not.

Bjork Ostrom: A really, really simple example for those of you who do not like grocery shopping, where I know a lot of you actually do like grocery shopping, but for myself, I don’t like grocery shopping. And it doesn’t actually matter for me or for our family or for our friends if I’m grocery shopping or not. And there’s this great app that we’ve started using called Instacart, and you’re able to do all of your grocery shopping, or most of it for us, and you can use Instacart to go and do that. So somebody will go, they’ll shop, you’ll pay them a tip, you have to sign up for Instacart, it’s maybe like $100 a year. But then that allows you to have somebody who is helping to do one of these things that you technically don’t need to do.

Bjork Ostrom: Now, there’s always the question of number one, is it something you actually like doing? If it is continue to do it. And number two, budget, and all across the board, there could be different scenarios of not having the budget for it or actually having the budget for it.

Bjork Ostrom: The only reason I share that is as an example of critical thinking around the tasks that take up your day and that make up your week, that make up your month, that make up your year, that make up your life and to think about, are there things that I could stop doing both personal or business? On the business side of things, there’s also examples. People could probably tell if you are not the person behind Instagram stories for instance, or even your voice as it relates to writing, but chances are people wouldn’t be able to know if you are the person that presses the share button on Facebook versus somebody that you are hiring within your business to help.

Bjork Ostrom: So the point with this is not to say, you just need to stop doing certain things, although that would be another reality. There might be things that are just things that you need drop and not do anymore. The point is, to think through and to rearrange your daily, weekly, monthly tasks and think about the things that you could either drop completely or that you personally could stop doing and somebody else could step in to help with.

Bjork Ostrom: So end of year is a great time to look back to analyze, to think through that and I’m doing that both within our personal and business life right now. I’m thinking, what are the things that have kind of crept into my calendar? That have kind of crept into my routines that are things that I should probably stop doing that I should be strategic about, that I should think about and either drop completely or have somebody else help with.

Bjork Ostrom: On the opposite side, is the question of what are the things that you need to start doing? Maybe there’s things that you’ve been putting off for a long time, and as you start to stop doing things that then gives you the time and the space to start doing things. One of the categories that exists in this space for me is non-tasky work that is moving things forward.

Bjork Ostrom: And what I mean by that is, I can get caught up in the taskiness of a day. Little things that need to happen, emails that need to get responded to. Slack messages that need follow up. Mail, both for the business and at home that needs to get sorted. Catalogs that need to get unsubscribed to, which is such a small thing, but I’m on this…. Lindsay would roll her eyes when she’d hear this, but I’m on this extreme campaign to get rid of all catalogs in her life.

Bjork Ostrom: So as you start to stop doing some of that stuff, what does that look like to backfill with things that you actually need to start doing? For me, it’s less tasky stuff and more slow, deep work that moves a big Boulder slowly forward. As opposed to little pebbles, which is tasky work. Sometimes I don’t give enough space and time for the more ambiguous, bigger things that need to slowly move forward.

Bjork Ostrom: For you, it could be all different examples. It might be time and space for self care. Maybe it’s two hours a week for you to go to a coffee shop and read a book by yourself. Maybe you need to start doing more health-related stuff, working out or giving time to plan healthy meals for the week. Maybe you need to start spending more time with family. As you think about the things that you’re going to stop doing, think also about the things that will take the place of those things that you’ve stopped doing.

Bjork Ostrom: This might also tie back to that first question. What are you working towards? A lot of us can get closer to the thing that we are working towards by just intentionally stopping and starting to do different things. I’ll say that again, because I think it’s an important concept. Some of us are tied up in the work and we think we’re working towards something, but we could actually get to that place or we could get closer to that place of what we’re working towards, that destination. Just by in this current moment, stopping certain things, not doing certain things and starting to do other things. And that just comes from intentional decisions. And moving forward on those things that you know you don’t want to do anymore and starting to do the things that are important to you. So that’s question number six, what do I need to start doing?

Bjork Ostrom: And then number seven, I think this is maybe one of the most important questions out of all of them. What am I grateful for? What are the things when you look back at this past year, that you are most grateful for? Even if it was a hard year, and we’ve hard years, I’ve had hard years. And my guess is, everybody listening to this has had hard years and maybe this year was your hard year.

Bjork Ostrom: I would say, don’t discredit that. Lean into that and say, this was a hard year. And it can be that and that’s okay. And also my challenge would be, what are the small things, even if it was a hard year, what are the small things that you are maybe grateful for? A few of the things that I’m grateful for as I look back on this year. I’m grateful for this season of life where we have with our daughter.

Bjork Ostrom: So Solvi is 15, 16 months and she’s at this point where she’s kind of starting to walk. She’s a late walker and she’s starting to form some words, we’re able to communicate with her. And it’s really small things that can pass without me noticing unless I stop and say, man, I’m really grateful for those things. I’m grateful for our community. The people that are in our life, the family that we have. I’m grateful for really small things like coffee in the morning. It doesn’t have to be something significant, these can be really small things. And my guess is that if you take some time and you think back, maybe it’s even the things that have happened in this day or in this week, there’s probably a few things that you could surface in your life and you could think, man, I am so grateful for those things.

Bjork Ostrom: And as you reflect on the past year, and as you look forward to the new year, my encouragement to you would be to make space for gratitude pondering, for thinking about the things that you are grateful for, both on a small scale and a large scale. Because as we’re working hard, as we’re building things, as we’re growing our businesses, a lot of times those small gratitudes can get lost. And so as a closing thought, that would be a question that I would encourage you to think about. And as you look back at 2019, and look forward to 2020.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things, another one of the things that I’m grateful for is this podcast is this group of people who are all around the world and listening and sharing and being a part of this community. It is one of the great joys that we have as a team is producing this podcast each and every week.

Bjork Ostrom: And to think back to that question, who am I serving? It’s you. It’s the podcast listener. And our goal, our hope with every podcast that we produce is that there’s going to be somebody out there, somebody in the world who listens to it, and they’re able to apply what they learn from it and improve their life by just a little bit. And I hope today’s episode gave you an opportunity even if it’s a tiny little micro improvement to have that chance to apply what we’re talking about on the podcast and fold that into your life in some way.

Bjork Ostrom: Thank you for an incredible 2019 from everybody on behalf of everybody on the Food Blogger Pro team, we couldn’t do this without you. And so as we close out the year as we ask some of these big questions as we ponder our gratitudes, we want to make sure that we make space to say thank you to you podcast listeners for being a big part of why we do what we do and a big part of this community.

Bjork Ostrom: All right, that is a wrap. As I shared at the beginning of this episode, we have a couple more, Food Blogger Pro podcast coming out. They are Food Blogger Pro rewind episodes, which means that they are episodes that we think are important for you to listen to, and to check out that have been previously recorded, but we want to highlight those again. And we will be back in 2020 a brand new decade. Not only a brand new year, but a brand new decade to continue doing what we do. We will see you next year.

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