From Brendon Burchard to Vishen Lakhiani, I love hearing highly successful business speakers talk about what motivates them to achieve more than the average person. As far as I know, there aren’t too many exceptions to the rule ‘Get clear on what you want to achieve, and work out a plan to get there.’
From over 20 years in 3 different careers and running two very different businesses, I have found it essential to my success to get clear on the following 5 areas:
1. Vision / Purpose
Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you gooey, feel-good stuff here. I just mean: How do you see your ideal life and what is the reason behind doing what you do?
Ok, not ‘just’. These are BIG questions, but stunningly rewarding if you do the hard yards and figure out the answers for yourself. There are some great exercises and workshops out there to help you do this both for yourself and your team/organisation.
2. Values-aligned Goals
Now you know the ultimate dream and why it matters, can you break that up into some achievable goals? I’m not going to go into how to do goal-setting as I know you’ve heard it all before. All I will say, is make sure that what you are striving for is because it matters to you. Take time to get clear on what you really care about right now, beyond the clichés, ‘work/life balance’ or the obvious, ‘family’… you might surprise yourself when you get a little more specific. (If you don’t know how to do this, ask me about the confronting but powerful ‘What do you want?’ exercise, or check out some of the suggestions below.)
3. The Roadmap from A to B, and Today’s VITs (Very Important Tasks)
Now you have some exciting goals that really matter to you, how will you reverse-engineer the end point do find out what you need to do today? Map out the big milestones, and break them into smaller action steps. If you don’t know how to get there, find out. That’s the easy bit.
Then you have to actually do the tasks, and for me (as someone who shirks routine and ‘have-to’s’) this means writing down in big bold letters what my most important tasks are today. My non-negotiables. The needle-movers. Not the purposeless paper-shuffling and email-grazing that makes you feel busy and important for a little while.
4. How you describe your Brand
Whether it’s your business or personal brand, you need to know exactly how to introduce it to others with the perfect words to make an impact and spark curiosity. This may mean a confident description that sets you up as an expert, or it may mean getting to the heart of what you are passionate about making a difference in… but it never means doing a sales pitch on someone after shaking their hand for the first time.
I’m always amazed at how quickly I get rusty on my own business introduction. After a long break over Christmas, this week I found myself waffling at a coffee meeting with a new contact when she asked me to describe what I do. Huh?? I know what I do! And what’s more, I know why it matters! And yet, not taking adequate time to refresh on what my most important message is, before my meeting, meant I was not as clear as I should have been. I saw my companion’s eyes start to drift, along with her thoughts. Fair enough. But quite possibly a wasted opportunity for me!
5. Your Sales Process
As I described in my last article, getting clear on an exact process for moving prospects to new clients and then to long-term clients was a game-changer for me. Finding a process that is natural and right for everyone involved, yet equally clear and systemised, is vastly different from trying to ‘up-sell’ people or squeeze more out of them! Here’s a tip: Create a map that starts with the customer’s main NEED and produce a flow chart that takes them through a free option, a level 1 option, a stepping-stone (e.g. an assessment piece that comes out of the level 1 option), and then a level 2 option. The key to this is beginning with the end in mind.
If you are a consultant or advisor, ensure you have a process of creating proposals that involves your client at every step. It’s a journey you take together.
Tools to get clear
Within these 5 essential areas for clarity, I’ve already hinted at some ways you can begin to get clear on what you are trying to achieve. In addition to this, it’s worth pointing out that there is huge power in taking time out to get quiet and reflect – though this is so often underestimated and pushed aside.
I schedule quarterly ‘retreats’ (not necessarily away on holiday!) for taking time out of my business to reflect and brainstorm. The ‘writing on the wall’ was one such time. Some of my favourite activities for reflection include:
- Writing BIG on a whiteboard or large pieces of paper
- Creating flow charts or diagrams by hand
- Journaling (either answering a question or a free-flow ‘brain dump’)
- Meditating on particular questions (Not mysterious. Simply getting quiet, breathing mindfully, asking myself a question, and waiting… sort of listening, while continuing to breathe. The more you practice this the quicker the answers come and the less weird it feels!)
- Taking my lunch break to run on the treadmill or walk on the beach and let my mind just unravel
Sometimes when I read advice like what’s in this article, I become overwhelmed by how much there is to do. I hope that is not how you feel, but if you do, be assured that what I have listed above has come from my own tried and tested experience along with learning from some real sages out there… and you don’t have to do everything right now; you can start anywhere.
The most important point, really, is to ask yourself: How intentional am I… in how I set up my year, my week, my day, this project, this meeting, this hour? What is it I am trying to achieve exactly, and what will it take to get there?
Wishing you a clear vision for success in 2020!