Most of us start our businesses or careers backwards. Instead of figuring out what kinds of lives we want to have, and then making our professional choices as part of strategic plans to attain those lives, we first choose businesses or careers, and then let them take us wherever they decide we can go. Over time, we discover that we’re not where we wanted to be, and we become unhappy.
Who’s in charge, you or your work?
Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited, refers to the life you want to live as your “Primary Aim”. Your practice, on the other hand, is simply a part of your “Strategic Objective”. Why are you doing what you are doing now, if it’s not to guide yourself toward your Primary Aim?
Here’s an exercise that’s worth doing:
1. Write down where you want to be in your life in two, five, ten, and twenty years: financially, emotionally, spiritually, geographically, etc. What do you hope to have learned? What do you want to have accomplished? What kind of people do you want to be living with, working with, associating with? Who do you want to be?
2. Write down how you think your career/business/practice ought to grow and change and how it will, as it evolves, help you reach your goals. What has to happen in the next three months/years for you to feel happy with your continual progress?
A picture like this might emerge: “My business couldn’t possibly make me the millions I need to live the tropical-island lifestyle I want within the next twenty years. I either need to change my expectations, change what I’m doing, or change the way I’m doing it.”
3. If your picture looks something like the one I’ve just described, write down what you need to change, and how and when you need to make your changes to fix your “Life Plan”. Do a “SWOT Analysis” (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats):
What strengths will you need to reinforce and maximize, and what skills must you develop (weaknesses), in order to focus on and capture your biggest opportunities for progress? What are the biggest threats you will need to face and deal with in order to seize those opportunities?
As the famous Twentieth Century philosopher, Yogi Berra, said: “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”
Delve deeply into your Life Plan, and utilize powerful tools for figuring out what you need to do to get where you want to be. You can do this exercise and follow through on what needs to be done all on your own, but your odds will improve greatly if you ask for help. So keep asking the RIGHT questions, keep planning, and keep REACHING…