As much as we want to believe that we are highly motivated and driven to create the lives and businesses that we truly want, oftentimes, we just don’t. We tend to enjoy the comfort when its available and not use it to plan and prepare for the next season. We wait and enjoy the comfort but sometimes find ourselves thrusted into a new season. And, usually not a good season. We are forced to do our planning (not dreaming) while under pressure. Unfortunately, in this scenario, its only when we feel pressure that we strive to plan and grow.
When we owned a farm in the Central Valley of California, I learned the value of harsh conditions. Local farmers shared with me that they liked really cold winters because, they said, it would strengthen the trees. Under harsh circumstances like extreme cold, trees would root deeper for more water and more nutrients to feed themselves. The result? Deeper, stronger root systems that would suck up more nutrients during the spring when water and fertilizers were more readily available.
So, rather than waiting for an external circumstance to create change, use your imagination now and start dreaming. Imagine the following extreme examples and use the answers to these questions to gain insights into yourself and your preferred future.
- What would you do (and stop doing) if you knew that you only had 5 years to live?
- If you won the lottery and knew money would never again be a concern, what would you do with the rest of your life? Why?
- If you could try anything in your life and knew with absolute certainty that you would not fail, what would you do?
The exercise is obviously exaggerated. But, try to be realistic with your own abilities and the season of life you are in, focusing on what is in your heart that you would love to accomplish.
Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Business
Consider your strategic business plans for the next 12 months. What activities do you love to do in your business? Which tasks do you love to dive into and do yourself? Which activities are best for your company in terms of where you personally focus your time and effort? What is the return on those efforts? How can you strategize to do more of those things?
Read the questions below and consider your answers. Then continue reading to develop a strategic plan for your next 12 months.
- What are your big picture goals for the next 12 months?
- What resources do you need to accomplish those goals?
- What is currently your biggest frustration?
- What are you doing now that is working well for you?
- What are you doing now that is not working well for you?
These are the 5 most powerful questions in my strategic tool belt. They help me focus and prioritize my strategy for the next 12 months at a time.
The last three questions are related to one another. I often find that whatever is currently frustrating me the most is also taking up the most of my mental energy and attention. This energy drain siphons off valuable time throughout the day in which I could be working within my Sweet Spot to advance my company or invest in my employees.
When you ask what is frustrating you or what is working well versus what is not working well, you should focus your questions around people, strategies, and systems. Think about which elements of your business are working well. Why are they working so well? What is it about that part of your business that enables your business to advance? Is it the people that are involved? What are they doing? Is it the product? What makes the product so successful? Why are people buying it and why is your marketing for it more effective than other products?
Go through the same process for the parts of your business that are in disarray. Ask the same questions and investigate the “whys” behind your answers. Keep asking “why” questions until you are satisfied that you know the root causes of both success and frustration. Once you have these answers, you can start making intentional, focused changes. After working through this process you will have the necessary information to develop new strategies and systems to reach your goals.