Earlier this year, I looked at my carefully crafted yearly plan, colour coded and full of to-do lists and wild ideas.
I was tempted to send it directly to the recycling bin.
The world it was based on had disappeared; it seemed overnight.
Small business owners and solopreneurs live by their long and short term plans, relying on them to motivate them and keep them on track. But this year has shown us just how useful and useless a plan can be. There is so much we are not in charge of, but to be reminded of this so swiftly and sharply is breathtaking.
However, we humans have an outstanding trait, and that is our adaptability. We have all made use of this skill in ways both spectacular and hidden this year. Now we try to look ahead to see how 2021 might unfold. How can we adapt when so much is unknown?
The first and most potent step in adapting is making a plan. As Eisenhower is believed to have said, Plans are useless, but planning is essential. A plan needs to be robust enough to support you, yet flexible enough to move with the weather, like a delicate spider web that looks frail and yet holds true through wild winds and fast rain.
Here are some ways to approach the task of goal setting that may help.
- Visualise it
Using images and your imagination is the most powerful tool at your disposal. Why? Because the pictorial version of what you want more of in your life works in your subconscious. Words or bullet points can make something much more contractual, which is not so helpful in time of uncertainty. Somehow it’s less malleable.
Images capture or evoke the feelings associated with the goal and speak to the part of us that words alone do not. You can picture your goals using guided meditation, creating a vision board or simply focusing on an image that speaks to you of what you want more of in your life.
- Make many different smaller goals that are part of where you see yourself at the end of 12 months.
Recognise that not all of them may end up being relevant or achievable. But if there are enough, they act as stepping stones across a river. Step on a rocky one and there is another alongside it that you can step onto, keep your balance and stay heading in the right direction.
- Create many paths that lead to the same destination. A single lane business plan with no offramp or access to enticing and surprising possibilities is probably going to hold you up rather than speed you on.
- Become part of a community of people who are in the same spot. Declare your targets out loud and share strategies that work. If you can’t find one, why not create your own MasterMind group of colleagues? A quick weekly meet-up online to discuss your successes, pitfalls and where you are heading in the next week is invaluable. This year it has made a massive difference to my ability to focus, knowing I would be reporting in. As a coach, I see the power of having a supportive guide who never criticises but is there, gently asking, How did you get on with ….?
It’s the accountability factor.
Essentially, use whatever tools you can to bypass the busy brain that can interfere with critical objections to a written plan, but finds it harder to undermine a visualised one. Create a picture plan that may look huge and unfocused to an outsider but means something specific and essential to you.
Coach + Writer - Wild Sky Coaching
Turning ideas into action starts with the words.
As a writer and coach ( Graduate Diploma of Ontological Coaching 2014 - an 18-month qualification recognised by the International Coaching Federation) I help small business owners give vibrant voice to their visions.
This includes business plans that are outside the traditional dot point document, using meditation, song or image to create something particular and original for each person. Finding your own style of simple, easy, everyday writing can be something solo entrepreneurs stumble over. My 10 Top Tactics is a model-based approach that smooths the way and allows for writing from the whole person.
I live and work in the south-west hinterland, an hour from Geelong, running Writers' Cafe events, Business Writing in Plain English and goal-setting workshops and small group and individual coaching. I am building a Writers' Retreat Graden and am an indie-published performance poet.