Are you sick of making new year’s resolutions that you struggle with? I know that I am. I have gotten better, but most of my resolutions are forgotten by Valentine’s Day.

I recently orchestrated a strategic planning session for a nonprofit, and it was such a great session that I decided to apply the techniques to my own life and my own business. This got me so pumped up and excited for the new year that I wanted to share.

Although I did this before the new year, I have actually think that it will be a great way to ensure that resolutions are lasting. Luckily, because I did this a few weeks ago, this is proving to be true. So far, I feel more focused and more successful with the changes that I made for my life and my business.

Here are the steps that I followed:

  1. Brainstorming
  2. SWOT Analysis
  3. Creating Resolutions

I applied these steps to my business. First, I looked at how much I have learned over the past year and the ideas that I have in the brainstorming phase. In the SWOT analysis, I started with what I am good at, which is creating events. I have coordinated the food procurement for a conference serving 200 people this year. I have also thrown a huge birthday bash for 100 guests. I enjoyed doing these things, and I am good at it. This made me decide to take my business in a new direction, well kind of. I was an event coordinator back in 2012, and I have coordinated a lot of events on the side. This SWOT analysis made me realize that I needed to bring that experience into focus and make event planning my main hustle. I was also able to recognize my weaknesses, which are marketing and asking for payment for my services. I considered these things in the analysis of opportunities and threats as well. An opportunity that I recognized is to create a marketing plan that I can accomplish. A major threat that I face is money, so I knew that I needed to really amp up my opportunities to make money. All of these and much more came out of the SWOT analysis, and it was actually a fun way to get to a better plan for my business.

After doing these steps, I put them to application. I created goals for 2019 for my business, including a weekly challenge, a social media marketing plan, and a timeline for events. I created a strong financial plan. This fueled me to updating my websites and social media platforms, and so far, so good! I am over a month in and still working towards my goals.

Here’s how you can do the same:

First, you want to do some brainstorming. There is no right or wrong in brainstorming, but I reflected on what I was happy with, what I was not happy with, and what I had accomplished in 2018. #resolutions are about growth, and I wanted to recognize the growth that I had already created in my life and take it even further.

Next, you should do a SWOT analysis. Don’t be scared, this is a good way to recognize Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats! #swotanalysis is all about improving by analyzing the big picture as well as the small stuff. I know that these are usually reserved for business, but SWOT can be applied to your life too. Here’s a sample:

Retrieved from: https://www.liveplan.com/blog/what-is-a-swot-analysis-and-how-to-do-it-right-with-examples/

Finally, you will review these and create your new year’s resolutions.

Let’s say that one of your goals is to lose weight. I think this is one of the most common resolutions that gets thrown aside by mid-January. You would start by looking at your weight loss journey from the past year. Did you take steps to improve? If so, what steps (i.e. I started taking vertical pole fitness classes)? How did that work? Did you develop any bad habits (i.e. I started drinking soda more than usual)? After this, you would conduct a SWOT analysis. What are your strengths when it comes to weight loss? (i.e. what type of exercise/healthy foods do you like? what are you good at?) What are your weaknesses? (Do you hate to run, etc.?) What are some opportunities for improvement? Perhaps you may find it easier to exercise if you find something that you enjoy. Maybe you would eat more healthy if you buy things that you like. Taking these small but mighty steps will be longer lasting, and they can be revealed through the SWOT analysis. Finally, you still need to examine the threats. What threatens your success? Time, money, etc. If these things threaten your success, then you need to develop a strategy to overcome them. If time is an issue that prevents you from exercising, maybe you should take time away from something that is not important and replace that activity with exercise. For instance, if you spend thirty minutes in the morning on Facebook, instead go for a brisk walk. If money is an issue, then take money away from something (like your daily cup of coffee at Starbucks) and but that into an exercise class or some healthier food choices.

It’s one thing to make a resolution, but it’s another to make it last. If you truly want to make resolutions that you can see all the way through, start with an analysis that shows you the entire picture of where you are, how you can improve, why you struggle, and how you can overcome those struggles.

I hope that you are able to apply these three easy steps and create real resolutions that you can reach in this new year! As always, keep evolving & thriving, and if you would like to discuss, feel free to email me: juliestillrolin@gmail.com.

Party Planning

Julie’s 13 Must-Haves for an Unforgettable & Fabulous Event
As an event planner, I put extreme focus on details because details are what people will remember. I do not remember exactly what I did after I got up this morning and started getting dressed, but I do remember the centerpiece at my friend’s wedding. Adults especially need aesthetics to trigger memory. This is why when you are planning an event, you cannot skimp on the details. Does this mean that you have to go spend a ton of money on vases? No. You can still have fantastic, eye-catching details on a budget. These are definitely not in order of importance because they are ALL important.
1. Fantastic Centerpieces

This was a centerpiece for a wedding that had two main themes: Literature because one bride is an English major, writer, and teacher, and Lovebirds because the other bride is a huge animal enthusiast. These details got lots of compliments. The books were borrowed, the baby’s breath was bought at Winn Dixie in a bundle for about $3.50. The ribbons were bought at Dollar Tree, and the little wooden shapes were bought in a big bag at Michael’s for around $10, and they were used in multiple places.
Gerber Daisy Centerpiece
_MG_2788This centerpiece was for a birthday party that was all about color and fun! The paper and pens were for a trivia that was put together for the birthday boy! Everything came from Dollar Tree. This centerpiece cost $4.75 to make, and all of the guests gave rave reviews!



2. Lighting

Backlighting for Party Table
Many venues come equipped with lighting, but something that should be considered is back-lighting. Look for my post on creating back-lighting coming soon!
It’s important to pay attention to lighting even if you don’t have a venue with good lighting. You can always use candles and other smaller lights to create ambiance in the place of fluorescent lighting, which should NEVER be used unless it’s in a hospital.
If your venue does not have good lighting, think outside the box and create some simple light fixtures using string lights and materials that are easy to hang or drape.
3. Music
It goes without saying that music is a must at any event. Remember when planning your music, you get what you pay for. If you plan to simply hook up a bluetooth speaker and let it go, you may find yourself in a pickle! Make sure that you download a long enough playlist that you’re not rushing over to change songs continuously. Also, make sure that the music is appropriate for the event and the audience. I personally like 90s Grunge like Nirvana and Bush, but not everyone enjoys these! You want your event to be a great experience, so consider your crowd!

If you are hiring someone to play music, take it from a DJ (yes, I DJ!) that we want to know what you want. Don’t say, “I trust you,” and then try to micromanage the music during the event. Be clear. Send a playlist. And, remember: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

4. Themed Food

YESSS, please…remember that details matter, and PEOPLE REMEMBER FOOD!!! Theming your food does not have to be extravagant, and it can actually help you make decisions about it easier.

Themed Food: Finger Food Fun
Since this party was all about being colorful and having fun, the menu items were chosen to be colorful finger foods! It was that simple!


Desserts as DecorDesserts as Decor

Another way to add pizzazz is to let your desserts add to the decor! Painting serving trays the color of the theme, having themed toppings, all of these small details make a HUGE difference!

5. Signature Cocktails


alcoholic beverages bar beverage cocktail

Photo by ahmad syahrir on Pexels.com

Signature Cocktail
If you really want to WOW your guests, add a fun signature drink to the menu. Again, this does not have to be extravagant. You can add a splash of lime to cranberry and vodka and call it “Tipsy Twang” or something that goes with the theme of the event!


6. Entertainment

Drag Shows are Always Fun!
Events are all about experience…big or small! If you can, utilize some of your local talent. They will often come out for an hour for a reasonable cost! I recently procured some drag queens to come to an event, and it was totally worth it! They were definitely crowd pleasers!


Local artists are also often looking for ways to showcase their talents! Some other entertainment options include having someone dress up for a photo opp, having someone sing/dance, etc. Be creative and bring the fun!

7. Photo Opportunities

Photo Booths are all the rage!

two woman taking photo in photobooth holding black and pink masquerade mask


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In the day of the selfie, everyone wants an opportunity to take a fun picture! Be sure to have a photobooth at your party. It doesn’t have to be a hired one (unless you have the budget), but they are fantastic! You can find fun props at Dollar Tree and create your own backdrop. I’m going to be posting how to create a backdrop soon!

Be sure to add extra recognition to your event by creating a Hashtag and encouraging everyone to use it when they’re posting on Instagram, etc. This will give you easy access to all the great photos that are candidly shot at the event.

8. An Emcee

People need direction! If you want to ensure that your party is a success, you need someone to make sure that everything that you want your guests to know and do is announced. Designate a friend or relative who likes to speak in public, or have your DJ or Coordinator handle it.

9. Activity Station

This is something fairly new for adult parties, but why not? They’ve made adult arcades a thing! At a recent party that I planned, a small painting station was available for guests to paint a small canvas. It was fun and it allowed guests to have something to do if the cocktail line got too long!

10. Guestbook

If you truly want your guests to remember your party, you’ll need to know who they were so that you can send them a thank-you! This can be electronic (tagged post, private message), but it is a must!

11. Something Unique

Something Unique
I know, I know, you’re probably thinking that this is a lot! But, trust me. I’m the expert. The above photo is a table that contained bows for each guest to wear. They had a clothespin glued to the back, and there was a message from the host that said something like, “Because you are all gifts to me, I’d like you to wear a bow.” It was thoughtful and unique, and the guests loved it so much they wore their bows proudly through the night! Doing something unique that you think of makes the event unforgettable!

12. Decor

Balloons and Large Centerpieces
Balloons are great decor! They are inexpensive and add great color to any event.


Remember, just like food can be a part of decor, so can tableware and glasses! Details matter!

13. Party Favors


Watch Love Grow Flower Seed FavorsWatch Love Grow Flower Seed Favors
Give guests a reason to be glad that they came and add an inexpensive party favor that goes along with the theme of the event!
Putting all of these together will guarantee a fun and memorable experience. 

Deewatch Wedding Watches and Bracelets

Here’s a PDF Infographic that breaks these down: