The idea of creating a laborious business plan meant two things. For one, I needed to find the extra time to sit down and do it and then if by some miraculous chance I found the time; I would need to overcome paralysis at the thought of working through the million minuscule details of what it would take to accomplish each goal. And, whether I fall short or exceed expectations of myself, there will still be that moment where my inner critic will take over. The goal was either too big so therefore I wasn’t good enough, or too small, stifling my potential of what might have been possible, had I not put a cap on it. Attitude adjustment? Yes, I needed one. But, I also knew I needed something different. On my quest to remotivate and find meaning again, I decided to take a less traditional approach.
It was the confinement of the traditional plan that held me back. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a good old fashioned business plan--something is better than nothing-- but I had to seriously take a second look. The heavy focus on formulas, numbers, and tracking of numbers over the past few years has taken its toll on me. There’s nothing wrong with being motivated by numbers, we need to know and understand them in order to run a business. Some of the most successful people I know are most motivated by watching the rise and fall of numbers every month. However, I believe most traditional business plans are missing a creative element, a place where we can dig a little deeper and learn more. Coming out of tougher times, we find ourselves SO number and money focused that we lose sight of understanding the motivation and meaning behind our work. Maybe we even realize we aren’t having fun anymore.
In this business, minutes turn into hours which turn into days which turn into years, often before we gain consciousness. And when I hear myself say “you don’t have time to stop and check-in…getting through what’s right in front of you has proven to be enough…maybe next month," it doesn’t end well. Before I know it I have zero awareness that my best month was LAST June, yet I can’t remember the last time I took a day for myself. I realize my motivation has diminished, the love for my work lost and I can’t even recall why I was ever any good at it.
Over a long period of time, operating unaware, I run risk of experiencing the insidious side effects: discontentment professionally or personally, sometimes both. And then along comes the long term stress induced symptoms, both physical and mental, taking its toll on my overall health and wellness. I don’t want to find myself here and not know how it happened.
Last week, Ava inspired me in this process of rediscovery. In Kindergarten, she is building a journal for the year titled "I Can" documenting the things she can do. This week she wrote and illustrated a story about how she can ride a bike. Without oversimplifying, I believe there is something to learn from taking inventory of what I can do. Most of my can do's include my strengths and translate to what I am enjoying most—a good exercise in understanding more about what I need and what I want. All too often, this valuable information is held hostage to the busyness of life.
If you are still in business, you’re doing something right. And, let’s be honest—it hasn’t been ponies and rainbows these past few years, so congratulations! Survival is supposed to feel good and our work should be rewarding, right? If you’re smirking right now and struggling to recall the last time this was you--maybe it’s time to take a closer look. When you overcome the temptation to look beyond yourself for the answer, it becomes clear what you’ve known all along.