At this time of the year, we’re encouraged to set our business goals for the next 12 months and beyond. But when I speak with small business owners, you consistently tell me that you can’t figure out what the future of your business looks like. You can’t imagine a year from now, and you certainly can’t imagine three or five years from now.
I think you’ve put the cart before the horse. Instead, first figure out what you value, then design your next year to create a meaningful life and career.
Here’s an eye-opener exercise that’s sure to help:
Take a piece of paper and divide it into thirds. (Here’s a More/Less Worksheet PDF you can use.) In the first column, write down all the things and feelings you’d like more of. In the middle column, write down what you’d like less of.
Don’t try to do this exercise in one sitting. Instead, do a quick, initial brain dump of your wants and needs, then walk away and let it rest for a few hours. Come back later to review your worksheet, and continue to add items as they bubble up to the surface.
Once you feel the first two columns are complete, fill in ideas for projects that will help you achieve what you want from the other columns. Here’s an example of a More/Less Worksheet completed, to give you some guidance.
At this stage, just list ideas for any and all projects that could help you achieve what you want. If you begin to edit your thoughts, you might remove a project before you know whether it would be viable.
Slowly, your future unfurls before your eyes. By imagining what you want more of and less of, you begin to imagine a future that’s exactly right for you.
There are times when you’re not sure what you want or how to get there. That’s okay and you might find this blog post about tolerating ambiguity in business intriguing, a different way of looking at the situation.