Vision in front of you is the power to continue forward and not sideways, while still enjoying the journey.
Imagine going on a trip somewhere. You've packed the car and taken the time to gather your supplies for the road trip. The car is full of gas and you've checked the tires. You're ready to go. Now imagine that you wanted to take this road trip to California. You looked at the map and decided on San Fran in particular. So you head off down the road, boldly going where you have never been before. Your dreams are waiting for you.
An hour or so into your drive you come to an intersection and follow the flow of traffic to the right. A little while later you come across a tourist attraction and stop to explore it. While there, you may even run into an old friend and decide to visit with them for a while. After a few days you decide it’s time to keep heading for California. Or so you think. It slowly dawns on you that after your initial look at the map you haven't looked at it since. In fact, you can't even remember exactly how to get to San Francisco. Even though you left days ago, you haven't gotten more than a few miles from home. The forward movement toward your intended destination has been halted and in fact you have barely made it past your starting point.
In reality you would never travel to San Francisco without checking the map every once in a while to see that you are still on track, yet we do it all the time in business. So many of us entrepreneurs set out on a journey with hopes and dreams of a certain destination. We dream of a perfect life and we set out to create it. But we don’t have an action plan to get there. We just have a dream. Just like a road trip, we need a business map to make sure we are actually moving forward and not just wasting a lot of time going nowhere or creating a lot of sideways movement.
So how do we do create a business map? Here are 4 basic steps to get started:
1. Write down your desired end goal or destination on a white board. Make sure it's simple, clear and easy to understand. Complicated visions almost never come to pass. As an exercise, ask yourself this question, "Does my goal fit into one clearly defined sentence? If others read it will they easily understand what it means?" For example, planning a two week trip to San Francisco is easily understood. It's specific. If you just said that you want to travel to California that would leave people wondering where you are actually going. A simple and clearly defined vision will get accomplished. Don't be afraid if this takes you a few tries to put together. Nobody gets it right the first time. We definitely didn't.
2. Put your end goal up on the wall and refer back to it often; every week or even every single day if needed. We've started to make a point to look at our vision board every morning just to make sure that we're focused and on track when we're working.
Just like you would get easily lost or distracted on a trip to California if you never looked at the map, you can get distracted and even lose your way in business if you don't keep your purpose and vision in front of you.
3. Plan the route you'll take to your destination. You need to decide if you want to get there quickly or take the scenic route and explore along the way. What filters you decide on will govern the route you take and how fast you get there.
In today's age, we are not only distracted by everything but we are also constantly harassed by an overwhelming amount of information. Everyone's telling us to do this or take that shortcut or be sure to keep up which makes it challenging to stay on course. This is the reason its important to constantly remind yourself what your end goal is. Look at your plan and make sure that you are still on a healthy course to arrive at your destination on time.
4. Break your end goal down into smaller achievable goals. Just like you wouldn't try to get from New York to San Francisco in two days, its important to set realistic goals and allow yourself a reasonable amount of time to get there along the route you've chosen.
Distractions will always come and if there is no real reason to say no to them, then they will easily take over and control your life. Alternately, if you don't take time to stop and rest occasionally it can become a miserable trip, both for yourself and others. You have to decide what things are worth saying yes to and what things are better passed on.
After discovering this principle, we took some time to put our end goal up on the wall, clearly defined along with a list of our filters for business. For example, we've set specific office hours, so that we can still have a healthy life outside of work. When you work from home with your spouse, it is so incredibly easy for work to become a constant presence all day and every day and before long you have nothing left in your life besides work. We’ve also decided that we value collaboration with other businesses, which means that when an opportunity comes up to work with people we like and respect, we can confidently say yes to it. By setting parameters, we are able to clearly identify if an opportunity is a distraction from our end goal or if it brings us closer to it.
Having a certain amount of fun and rest in your life is a healthy thing, especially for your family. It’s all about knowing what things are distractions and what things actually inspire you to keep moving toward your goal. Setting your vision up on the wall gives you the power to say no to what does not add value so that you can embrace what does. This process has given us the ability to keep moving forward every day and still enjoy the journey. A clearly defined goal creates huge forward momentum.
Let us know if this post has helped you or share your ideas of how to create your own focus below!