Tag Archives | goal-setting

The four essential elements of your right idea + a free download

When you put yourself out there as the right person for a job, the right people will always take notice.

When I put myself out there as someone who can help build a life you love by building a business you love, I expected to have a few people sending me “can you help me start this business?” type emails. And I do get quite a bit of those.

But I also get a whole lot of something harder.

I get a lot of this…

so want a simpler life where I can do work I love and feel like I’m the one in control of where I spend my time & energy. I want my life to be about the things I care about. But I don’t know what to do!  I have no idea how to find the right business for me. I don’t know what kind of business I could start that I would love. Can you help me?!

Can we have a group hug of genuine empathy?!

That space is so.hard.  When you know that you want a different life, but you can’t quite define or describe that different life….yeah that.  It’s like psychologically and emotionally gasping for air.

If you’re there or you’ve been there, you know. It plays tricks with your psyche in so many tortuous ways.  And this is all you want to hear…

I can help!

First. Breathe. Don’t panic. Don’t rush this.

I know it feels like there’s no air in the room, but I assure you there is. Close your eyes & take a deep breath to remind yourself of that whenever you need to.

You don’t want to rush this because you don’t want to build this amazing, ideal life you’ve envisioned on top of something that simply can’t support it.  You want to build it on top of the right business for you.

You don’t need a bright idea. You need the right idea.

The right idea will lead you to a business that is sustainable, evolvable, compelling and transformative….for you.

No wonder this is so hard!

I want to give you a shortcut.

The four essential elements of your right idea.

(Click on the poster to see it full size!)

The right idea doesn’t have to be brand new and innovative.

You don’t have to re-invent the wheel to re-invent your life. You just have to find the thing that combines these four essential elements in a way that makes your heart sing and your brain buzz with possibilities.

The poster is a great start, but if you want to get serious about this idea-finding thing, you want the free companion workbook.

Go get your workbook!

Click the image to get your free workbook!

I don’t often make promises

The work I do doesn’t lend itself to many guarantees or promises. Everyone’s experiences and outcomes are different. For example, I can’t promise that your right idea will come shooting out of your brain today or tomorrow.

But, I will promise you this:

If you hear me out, I can turn that suffocating feeling of hope peppered with utter confusion into possibility, clarity, freedom, and momentum.

I’ll even go out on a limb and make one more promise.

I promise, when you find that thing you’re searching for, you’ll discover it’s been inside you all along.  

It always is. It always surprises people. There are always tears. But it’s there. I promise.

Go ahead, download your workbook.  Let’s start moving forward.

Your words of wisdom are welcome!

If you’re in that airless place, I’d love to read your comments about that. And if you’ve been there before, I’m sure everyone who is there now, would love to hear your words of wisdom.  Please feel free to reach out to each other…and to me…in the comments below.

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Why you suck at goal-setting and why you should do it anyway.

Goal-setting sucks! How the hell am I supposed to know what I want three years from now?! I don’t even know what the world will look like then!

I hear these words so, so often from my wonderfully amazing and oh-so-talented clients. Ahh….the love.  

And ya know what? They’re right.


Nope, you don’t know what the world will look like in three years…or one…or even in 6 months. Neither do I.

But that doesn’t mean goal-setting sucks.  It means you’re doin’ it wrong.

You suck at goal-setting.

You see, we tend to think of setting a goal…starting a business…living that life we love…as a finite thing.  Something with a beginning and an end.

Oh, but the only thing finite about life is the end. Like…the real end.  Until then, your life is anything but finite.

It’s an organic, dynamic, ever-changing journey. With moving destinations that evolve and improve over time.

You Horizon Changes

Let me explain.

<<  Imagine you’re here.

From here you can clearly see that you want to go over there….to that hill with the tree.

The shade, the apples, the cool green grass.

The land of Overthere is clearly a nicer place than the land of Overhere.

So, you head out on your journey.

You’re happy, motivated, focused and so excited as you travel and imagine what life will be like in the beautiful Overthere.

Finally, you reach the top of the hill, only steps from your beautiful amazing tree.

You take a deep, satisfied breath and glance out over the horizon.

And your heart sinks.

<< You can now see a new horizon.

From here, you can see Thatplace. And it makes your tree in Overthere seem pretty small and petty.

Thatplace is amazing and oh…wow! You never even knew a place like that existed!


You start to feel shitty about being in Overthere, when Thatplace is clearly so superior.

You start to doubt your abilities. You feel overwhelmed that there is so much traveling still to do.

And you can’t even see the path to Thatplace. 

You are a failure.

I have some special, encouraging words that I share with clients who find themselves in this no-good, awful place.

Are you fucking kidding me?!

Turn around. No, really…turn the fuck around and look at the miles and miles of treacherous landscape behind you.

Not too long ago, you were stuck in that awful place that you can barely see from this beautiful hill you’re standing on today.

You did that.  You saw this place you wanted to be and you started walking toward it.

You are not a failure.

You’re sitting here, right now in the shade, on the cool grass, eating an apple.  This is beautiful!!

The only thing that changed is your horizon.

Today, enjoy the place where you are. Acknowledge the achievement of the progress you’ve made.

Relax and breathe. This is an amazing place. And you came here. On purpose.

You can now see where tomorrow’s journey will take you.  That is also a wonderful gift.

Enjoy dreaming about the new place. Have fun planning the journey. And, when you’re ready, start walking toward Thatplace.

But rest assured, when you reach the top of that hill, your horizon will change again.

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The Life Cycle for Revolutionaries

You want a different life. You want to live in a world of your own design.

You and your business are both evolving. All the time. Always. In every way.

This r-evolution happens in cycles. 

The only way to not live within this cycle is to sit still and never change.

But that’s not you. Ohellno.

You are a R-Evolutionary.

Here’s how it works:


Every evolution starts here. It begins with a yearning or unease with the current situation and a feeling of untapped potentiality.


Awakening leads to designing.  This is where problem-solving & innovation happen. You begin imagining, dreaming, idea finding and idea sifting.


Once an idea takes hold, then comes building.  Things really start to happen here, like creating, planning, defining and researching, clarifying.


Here you’re rockin’ & rollin’. Putting all of those plans into action. Generally getting shit done. Making money. Taking names. Loving life. Everything seems to roll toward you.

When we set out, we tend to think of this place as our destination. This is where we’ll find our groove and life fulfillment will have been achieved.  And that’s true…sort of.

Because you’re an evolutionary, revolutionary being…you won’t stay there. No matter how amazing it felt to get there.


All of that rockin’ and rollin’ will inevitably lead you to dream of bigger things. The bar gets raised.  You’re horizon changes.  The definition of your “ideal life” evolves. And so the cycle continues…

Rinse & Repeat

Growth will always lead you into new awakenings. Which means you get to repeat the cycle. You’ll redefine and reframe your amazing work and your amazing life 100x over…at least.

The best part is every time you repeat the cycle, it gets easier. You get better at the process. You get more clarity each time around.

You begin realize that life fulfillment is to be found in every single step along the way.


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I built a new kind of playground for your brain: in celebration of ideation

To dream or not to dream? That’s the new question.

As entrpreneurs, we’re fed a daily dose of contradiction from the experts about having and exploring new ideas. We’re told that we should keep them on the down low. Or get them out in the wild. Or we’re warned against chasing rainbows…told that ideas are useless without action. Then we’re told to never stop dreaming. Argh!!

What’s even more confusing: They’re all right.

Ideas are addictive and rare and plentiful and fragile and indestructible and inspiring and distracting.

We aren’t very nice to our ideas.

We ignore them, push them aside, tell them they’re dumb, keep them hidden away and beat them down until slink away.

But ideas are fuel for a fulfilling, self-made life. Without ideas, we could never change the things we don’t love about our lives or our communities.

We should celebrate ideas…hear them out long enough to see where they’re going. Ideas need a safe place to grow. And we all need a safe place to nurture them.

Which is why I created the in celebration of ideation, a master-your-mind group.

ideation is your own personal think tank.

A brain playground.

How it works

The group size is limited to four people. We’ll collaborate in a weekly online call.

Each week, one of the members will take center stage…so everyone will get center stage once a month. You’ll spend 10 or 15 minutes telling the group about your idea. You’ll be able to talk about it or share docs, pictures, anything to help the group see your vision.

And then, magic happens.

The Think Tank revs up. We’ll all take turns playing the roles of dreamer, architect, devil’s advocate. We’ll take your idea, build it up, tear it down and build it up again.

We’ll dream together. Wonder together. Build together. Grow together.

No pink smoke

We’re here to help you develop your ideas, not to laugh at them or to ooh & aah over them. Even if we LOVE you’re idea, we’ll still poke it with a stick. Because that’s the best way to toughen her up and help her grow into a full fleged project.

“If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” ~Albert Einstein

Not just for business ideas

Bring all of your ideas! Your dream of going on a cross-country, family RV trip or starting a community garden are just as welcome as your inspired new business idea and that just-crazy-enough-to-work new product.

ideation is perfect if you’ve been searching for:

  • Validation for your ideas before you spend 1000 hours trying to implement them.
  • A safe, snicker-free place to talk about your wildest and craziest plans where no one expects you to actually do every little thing that pops in your head.
  • Permission to pay attention to all of your new ideas and tools to strengthen your idea-evaluation muscle.
  • Open communication with fellow dreamers…in confidence. People who understand that the only way to have a good idea is to have a bunch of them, honor all of them and allow the best ones to rise to the top.

“The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas, and throw the bad ones away” ~ Dr. Linus Pauling

Bonuses included

Tools! With over a decade of experience helping my fellow idea junkies with their habit, I have tons of fun and useful idea evaluation tools & worksheets we can play with. Whenever appropriate, I’ll bring the right tool to the game.

Community! In addition to the weekly calls, the ideation members will have access to a special forum in the BrainyFeet discussion boards. We can continue the conversations there, share resources and incubate those idea chickies until they’re ready to fly.

Answers to your most likely questions

When are the calls?

The calls for the first group are tentatively scheduled for Tuesdays at 1:30-3:00 Pacific, 4:30-6:00 Eastern. Once that group fills up, I’ll open another time slot. Please let me know if that day/time is impossible for you. Everyone in the group must commit to being available for the calls. They’ll be recorded for posterity & review, but your participation is vitally important.

When you register, we’ll start the introductions in the discusson boards. For now, our first call is scheduled for August 8th.

What if someone steals my idea?

For some of you, this may be a real concern. I crafted a beautiful response to this question in which I wax poetic about how thinking isn’t doing and then I present a well-reasoned explaination for the steps I’ve taken to ensure this kind of douchebaggery doesn’t happen. But this isn’t the place for all that.  If this is something you’re concerned about, just drop me an email. I will be more than happy to ease your mind by emailing you my eloquent response.

And then there’s this piece of wisdom to consider from Howard Aiken:

“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

One last thing

I want to leave you with this thought. I’ve been toying around with the idea of creating this group for a while now. Reading this quote is what pushed me over the edge of thinking and into doing.

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” ~George Bernard Shaw

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Your Not-a-Business-Plan “Plan” for your Business

The good news: If you’re starting a business with your own green, you don’t need a fancy schmanzy business plan.

The bad other news: I know you’re a rebel & a non-conformist, but if you want this thing to happen, you still need a freakin’ plan!

What you should know about business plans

In Part 1, I asked if you can really have a business plan without writing a…um…business plan.  You should definitely read that & come back to this. But, if you’re too eager for the how-to, here are the Cliffnotes from Part 1:

  1. Don’t crank out a factory-made plan and think you did any kind of planning.
  2. Typically, the only time you need a formal business plan is when you’re asking for money.
  3. Even though you don’t need a pretty plan or a grammatically correct plan, you still need to know what you’re getting into.

Don’t Panic

This so-not-a-business-plan “plan” is the common sense approach to starting your business.

You may already have some of this stuff scattered around your world.  Until recently, mine lived in 2 different spiral notebooks, on the back of an envelope, a few pieces of folded & well-loved paper, in Evernote, in Google Docs and in Box.net.

At some point, I decided it was easier to consolidate it all.  But the point is, you don’t have to.

This should be painless & organic. It should give you forward momentum.  So, do what feels natural to you whether that looks like my organized chaos or more like something that’s actually organized. Words, pictures, stories, bullets, do what works for you.

Enough with the chit chat. Let’s get to it!

What everybody oughta know about their business

1. Why?

What is the purpose of all of this?  I’ve actually written a whole e-book about creating a family-centered vision for your business because this is such an important step.

Think about your “why.”

Starting a business is hard! And stressful. And overwhelming. And humbling.   All of this begs the question:

Why in the world are you doing this to yourself?

What would you like the end result to be?  There is no “right” answer here, but the wrong answer is “more money.”  If that’s your answer, then ask yourself one more question:

Why do I want more money?

Is it to have the freedom to home educate your kids? To travel with (and without) the kids? To have a less stressful, more well-blended life?

Aside from money, what would you like to achieve?

A simple, independent life?  The respect & admiration of your peers? A legacy for your kids?

You don’t have to nail down the perfect answer today, but do give this question some considerable brain time…and heart time.

2. What?

What product or service are you going to offer?  And, just as an FYI, most people who’ve tried it have found that you can’t pay the bills by selling warm fuzzy feelings.

If you’re going into business, you need to have something to sell. If you’re starting a non-profit, you need to have something to offer clients.

3. Who?

Who are the people that will buy what you’re selling.  Did you see the bold italics there? Really, how could you miss them?

I’m not talking about the people who will totally “get” you. Or the people who agree there’s a need for what you’re selling. Or the people who think what you’re selling is really neat.

You want to know who will actually open their wallets and give you some of their hard-earned cashy money for your product or service?

Even though you’re not in business to make money; if you’re not making money, you will go out of business.

4. Where? x2

  1. Where will you find these people who will give you said cashy money?
  2. Where will you set up shop? With a website? With a physical storefront? In your basement? Where?

5. When?

When will you do this? What’s the timeline?  Read this to see how to develop a simple strategic plan (which is biz-talk for creating a step-by-step process that will take you from here to there).

6. How?

How are you going to make money?

Um, don’t look at me like that. Seriously. How? You’d be surprised how many people forget to consider this part.

I’ll repeat:

Even though you’re not in business to make money; if you’re not making money, you will go out of business.

7. How much? x 4

  1. How much is it going to cost to get started?
  2. How much is this business going to cost to operate every month?
  3. How much can you expect to make in sales?
  4. Is that enough to cover your costs and pay the bills?

These are obviously some of the most important questions to ask. You don’t have to use a calculator or a spreadsheet. You can make intelligent guesses about these numbers and do the math in your spiral…or on the back of an envelope.

This is also, hands-down the scariest for almost every single person out there.  And not because the math is so hard. It’s not.

We avoid this because, once we have numbers, it all becomes so real.  They might break our favorite rose-colored glasses!

Which is why…and this happens way too often…people chose to go forward with blinders on not knowing the answers to these questions, and at a huge risk to their family’s quality of life.

But, what if they didn’t?

What if they did the numbers before they were drowning…and found out this idea of theirs ain’t so great?  How many tears, mortgages and marriages would that save?

Sure it sucks to find out the numbers suck. But it’s not bad news at all!

It just means you were looking down the wrong path to get to your “why”. Keep your why and keep looking for another path. You’ll find the right one.

99 and 3/4 percent guaranteed!

The Self-Made Business Academy goes deeper.

I know, some of these questions are easier to answer than others. That’s why I’m building the Self-Made Business Academy.  During the nine separate modules we’ll dig deep into each of these questions and more.   If you’re looking to start up or step up, I made program for you.

Join BrainyFeet to stay in the loop as the Self-Made Business Academy modules roll out.

Photo by Chrisada

Be sure to read Part 1: Can you really have a business plan without writing a…um…business plan?

Update: If you’re ready to get serious about starting this business, then check out the SMBA 72-Hour Business Planning retreats. The next one is January 20 – 22, 2012!

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9 simple words that will rock your world and put you in control of your time and money

These two phrases are killing you:

“I just don’t have time.”

“I can’t afford to do that.”

Okay, maybe they aren’t killing you, but they are deflating and dis-empowering you.

So stop saying them!

They’re lies.

They’re sneaky, convincing, convenient bullshit that we have allowed ourselves to believe wholeheartedly.

We think we’re doing it to make our decisions easier because we think it’s easier to blame the universe for our not being able to be all things to all people.

But blame isn’t easier at all.

If you’re tossing around blame, then you’re saying the decision is out of your hands.

In reality, every time you utter those words, you diminish your power.

You’ve disowned the decision.

And that’s bullshit.

You’re holding all the cards here.

How you spend your time & your money…these are your most fundamental, foundational life decisions.

I’m going to rewrite that for emphasis: These are your decisions.

So take back that power with these 9 little words. One little replacement sentence.

Next time you say (or think to yourself) “I don’t have time” or “I can’t afford to,” stop it and try these words instead:

“That just isn’t a priority for me right now.”

Deep breath. Ahhhh….instant empowerment.

That’s better.

It’s yours. So, own it.

A word of warning

These words are a magic mirror of self-honesty and you might not like what you see at first.

If you do this and you truly replace those words every single time you think them, you may will catch yourself saying ridiculous things aren’t a priority. Things that definitely are a priority.

For a minute or so, you’ll feel like crap about all of the really important stuff you’ve put off for silly stuff that never really mattered. Honesty sucks sometimes. Especially self-honesty.

Your turn:

If you make this simple change and it has a positive impact on your life, your work or your family…I’d love to hear your story. Tell us about it in the comments or, if you’d prefer more privacy, drop me an email.

Photo credit: Môsieur J.
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Avoiding the quicksand & other analogies for dreamers

Sometimes, I get so excited about all of the big things I’m planning to do that I don’t actually do the little things that’ll get me there.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that does this

There are a thousand of reasons why we don’t just get up and start walking toward our goal.

It’s easy to get so dizzy from your epic envisioned future that you get all turned around and don’t know what your next step should be.

So you don’t take any steps…at all.

You’re world-changers. Mind-maker-uppers. Mountain movers.

We’re absolutely all of those things + smart, inspired and passionate.

Yet, somehow, we all manage to get hopelessly lost.

First, you should know you’re not a loser. So stop thinking that. Now.

It’s totally normal to get overwhelmed and stuck.

Here are my thoughts on some of the steps you’ll take toward your big dream and the quicksand you may find along the way.

Step 1: Dreaming

My husband & I have been planning a huge cross country move for the last six years.

Now, when I say “we’ve been planning it” that’s a real stretch. We’ve been dreaming about it. Vividly imagining what it would be like when we’re finally living there. Talking about options and ideas.  All of that stuff is unbelievably important…but it’s not planning. It’s more like planning on.

You don’t get anywhere by planning on.

Quicksand!  It’s all too easy to get comfortable dreaming and convince yourself you’re planning.

Step 2: Scheming

This is where we actually start planning. We mapped our route, estimated the expenses, weighed the options between flying, driving & taking the ferry, made the decision to drive, created lists (and lists) of the things we need buy & do before the move.

We finally had a plan.  It started to feel real and we got all warm & fuzzy inside.

Then, without even realizing it, we regressed back to dreaming. For months, we tweaked the route, re-crunched numbers, fantasized about better weather and didn’t actually do anything.

Quicksand! Even if you have a great plan, you’re still just a dreamer until you do something.

Step 3: Implementing

Oooh….things are happening now!

We’ve pushed past Dreaming Phase 2 and now we’re cooking with gas. In the last few months, we bought the camper and all of the pieces that keep it on the truck. We bought a beefier truck that can actually haul a trailer & carry the camper.

This month, we’re making a mini move across town to downsize our house in preparation for the big move this fall. (Calling it a “mini-move” is so wrong since there’s nothing mini about getting rid of half your shit!)

Within the next 45 days, we should be able to schedule the exact day we’re rolling out of Alaska.

Even though this has been six years in the making, things are moving faster than we ever expected.  It’s exhiliarting, empowering and terrifying. This is something we want, absolutely…uncompromisingly…without a single doubt. Even still, sometimes, I just want to put the brakes on this train, breathe, think, reframe and absorb it all.  It’s overwhelming.

Quicksand! Most projects die here…when they’re actually working.

Yes, it’s completely counter-intuitive, but seeing a plan come together can be gut-wrenchingly emotional.

Some people say this is fear.  Personally, I think it’s just a completely foreign level of excitement.

Either way, if feels exactly like fear. So, our fight or flight instincts kick in. That’s when you may realize you’ve stumbled back to Dreaming mode or started Scheming again…just to avoid that nauseous fear/excitement, tummy-turning feeling.

Step 4: Launching

I get chills thinking about that moment when we’ll climb in the truck to pull away from here and head off to our new life. Yes, it’s just the beginning of a 45-day road trip, but it’s also the end.  The end of waiting. The end of planning. The end of this chapter.

Quicksand! Even though it’s scary, at some point, you have to launch. You’ve made all the preparations.  Don’t get cold feet now. Leap!

The dominoes analogy

I love analogies. Even though this post is an analogy about how our move relates to your business.  We could always use another analogy wrapped within this analogy, right?  So…to keep it simple…

We dreamed about an epic domino drop.

We planned it by drawing the thing out on paper.

We implemented it by buying the dominoes and setting them all in place.

Now we’re ready to GO! We can’t wait until the day we get to push one over and watch as they all fall according to plan….finally realizing our dream.

If you find yourself firmly planted in dreaming & scheming mode, check out my new Big Picture Zooming, Unslumpificating, Action-o-scope. It’s a fun & quick 30-minute coaching call where I’ll give you a gentle and decisive push toward implementing and finally launching!

And now, a moment of zen…

Image by Bart van Damme
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Do you really need what you want?

Do you know the difference between a want and a need?

I’m sure you do.  We’ve all heard our mom’s voice come out of our own mouth at one point, right?

Like when you correct the kid who just said she neeeeeds the newest iPod or that new video game or to go to the co-ed sleepover? Yeah. Right. Like you need that!

But how often does your mom’s voice talk to you?  Hmm..  think about how often you’ve said some version of:

“I need to start my own business because I want to spend more time with my kids.”  or “I need my day job and I need to grow my business in the evenings, but I really want to make sure I’m balancing my work and family time.”

These statements may be true.  Then again, you might have it all wrong.

First, let me call bullshit on balance one more time and direct you to my personal philosophy on creating a well-blended life.

Now, back to hearing mom’s voice. Take the sentences above and switch the words “want” and “need”.  Go ahead, read them again here with just those two simple words switched around.

“I want to start my own business because I need to spend more time with my kids.”  or “I still want my day job and I want to grow my business in the evenings, but I really need to make sure I’m balancing my work and family time.”

How much does that change the meaning?  What does it do to your perspective?

Downright evil word play, that is!

Now those sentences wreak of honesty.  The need is the end goal…the life you want. The wants are merely means to reach that end…how are you going to fund the life you want.  The funding isn’t the goal, its just a vehicle.  Yes, you want that vehicle to be in working order and up for the trip. But, if it turns out it isn’t, you can get another vehicle…right?  (You can.)

My Analogy (because I love analogies)

If you said you needed a new car because you wanted to drive 1000 miles to visit your grandma, then you’re likely to allow the inability to get a car to keep you from seeing grandma.   However, let’s suppose you say you want a new car because you need to see grandma on her birthday.  If you can’t get the new car, you’ll consider buying a clunker, taking a bus or getting on a plane.  Anything that will take you to grandma on time.

The magical thing is, when you put the need on your family time and the want on the vehicles that will get you there…a true sense of urgency will start to move you forward and a whole new world of options will open up for how you can get there.

Your turn to play

Head on down to the comment area and let me know what you think about all this.  What do you need & what do you want? How can this word play help you get there faster?

Photo credit: Me. That’s my Genevieve getting some work done at the hotel.
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Strategic Planning for Wanderers

“All who wander are not lost” ~ Unknown

I love, love this quote. I have it posted all over the place, so I can constantly be reminded that wandering is often a very good thing to do.  I wander all the time. I’m sure you do too.

We all wander online. We follow our curiosity from link to link. This can lead us to strange and wondrous places. Some of these places will teach us something. Some of them will burn images into our heads that will never go away.  Nevertheless, we wander.  We don’t just wander online though, we also wander out in the wild too.

You come across a road and think “I wonder where this goes” and you turn down it to find out. You pass a door and think “I wonder what’s behind there” and you check to see if its unlocked. You see a red button and think “What does this button do” and you’re so, so tempted to push it. You use the bathroom at a friend’s house and peek behind the shower curtain, maybe even in the medicine cabinet.

When we allow ourselves to follow our curiosity where ever it takes us, we’re wandering.  As a life schooling family, this is exactly the kind of freedom I strive to foster in my kids. I want them to be wanderers.

Except when I don’t.

There’s $20,000 cash for you in Austin, TX

I think better with stories.  This is the story I told my daughter about how to choose the time to wander and the time to plan…and how important it is to be able to do both of those things well.

Let’s imagine someone you know and trust just told you that there is a stack of $20,000 cash waiting for you in Austin, TX and you have four days to pick it up or it will disappear.  Well, first of all, remember we are in Alaska, so four days doesn’t give us a ton of time to get there. Still…

Are you going to mosey your way down to Texas, following your curiosity along the way? Oooo, Mt. Rushmore! Wow, the Mall of America! Hey, look, the Grand Canyon! Wait, if we turn right we’ll find the beach in a few hours.  Um…no.  You’re going directly to Austin, without passing Go. You don’t even have to remind yourself to stop wandering.

Why you’re compelled to stop wandering

You have a strategic plan and you didn’t even know it! This is the kicker. This is the thing that will help you grow your business…or reach any goal you want…like getting to that $20k before Friday.

A strategic plan has four parts and if you have all of those parts, then you can easily focus on getting there when you need to get there.

1.  Goal. You need a specific measurable goal or end result. You may have a goal to quit your day job or bring home $5000 a month. In this scenario, that goal is “get the $20,000.”

2. Objectives. These are basically baby steps to your goal.  Once you’re reached your objectives you’re goal is a given.  Let’s say If I have a small jewelry store, and my goal is to take home $5000 a month.  I’ve watched and I know that 1 out of 5 people who walk in my door actually buys something. And I know my average profit on each sale is $50. So, if my research is right, I need to get 500 people in my store and get 100 sales. Once I’ve done that, I’ll have reached my goal.   For  the $20k, my objectives are 1) get to Austin and 2) within 4 days.

3. Strategies. This is how you plan to reach your objectives.  For our $20k, my strategies might include flying, driving, taking a cab. For $5000 in a month, I might hold an open house or a customer appreciation event or I might do a drawing or have a sale. Anything to draw those 500 people into the store.

Everything else is counterproductive to my goal. That bears repeating.  Every thing else is counter productive to my goal. I want that $20k, so I’m not going to take a detour in Vegas.  You want that $5000 this month, so you’re not going to spend time and energy on painting the bathroom or rearranging inventory. Those things might make perfect sense in another context, but right now I need to get to Austin and you need to get 500 bodies in your store.  Urgency. Focus.

4. Tactics. These are the actual tasks involved in implementing your strategies. Write them down. Seriously. I don’t care how mundane they are. Lists keep us from wandering off the path we know we want to be on.  For my flight to Austin, I need to pack, check my bank account, book the flight, find a car, find the address of where the cash is, make arrangements to pick it up etc.  For your open house, you probably want to set a date, notify your best customers via email, put up a banner (after you get it printed), put it on your Facebook page, order snacks, clean the shop a bit, hire a dj, order balloons, etc.

Don’t just list them out.  Put a “by when” date on each and an estimate of how much each task will cost (if anything).  Now its real. Now you can follow your to do list and know that you’re on exactly the path you need to be on to get where you need to go.

The wonder and beauty of wandering will be there for us when we return…with $20k or $5k more in our pockets.

What next?

Do you wander when you should be strategic? Or are you planning when you could benefit from some wandering? Let us know in the comments.

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Image: Niels Rameckers
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