I’ve spent the last month steeped in visioning. Visioning for me. Visioning for my clients. Dreaming and scheming and creating bold, exciting visions for what we want to be, have, and achieve in our businesses.
While vision boards and vision exercises help us unconsciously align our activities to achieve our goals, success also takes purposeful and seven (plus) things you can do to move vision from the realm of imagination to reality:
- Identify and define your vision. If you wanted to go to Disneyland, you wouldn’t just hop into your care and point it south, you’d get directions. Your vision is your map to the destination of your goals and objectives. Create a vision board for yourself and place it somewhere prominent where you will see it many times a day. Or, write a vision statement for yourself and read it every morning as part of your mindfulness practice. Use multi-sensory imagery to anchor that vision in your working memory.
- Create goals from your vision. Take your vision and write statements that begin with “I want to…” Don’t concern yourself right now with how you will achieve these goals. These statements could have to do with revenue, your operations, marketing, products and services, or even something personal. Are there one of more of these goals statements that evoke a different emotion from the others? Sit with each statement until you can begin to prioritize them in terms of the most important to least important.
- Focus your actions. Your goals will have a major impact on you and your business, and deserve the time and attention they need to come to fruition. This is not the time to multi-task, you will want to focus your energy (multi-taking is so 2010!). Prioritize your goals and assign each one a deadline. You’ll want to focus on no more than three big goals each quarter.
- Identify gaps. Looking at your top three goals, what resources (time, money, skills,knowledge, etc.) will you need to make them happen? What has kept you from achieving these goals in the past? I remind my clients that if they knew what and how to do something, they’d be doing it already, so what support or knowledge do they need to succeed?
- Build a plan. There’s no right or wrong way to format your plan, the most important thing is that you build one.
- What are the specific tasks you need to undertake to achieve your goals? One of my strategies is to take the big goal and break it down into three or four medium-sized goals, then break each of those down further into five to 10 small goals. Not only does it help me layout a clear step-by-step plan, but it makes each task more digestible and less intimidating.
- What challenges might you face in accomplishing your tasks and what is your plan for overcoming those challenges? Your plan hould include a reminder on why are you undertaking each task – because everything you do should tie back to your vision, if you can’t draw a straight line (figuratively) between the action and your vision, stop and reconsider whether it’s the right move.
- Who is responsible for each task? Ultimately,you’re in charge of what needs to be done, but who will do the actual work to complete each item. Will it be you? Will you outsource?
- And, finally, how will you measure the success of each component of the overall goal? What is the timeline for completing each task? Write it down and share it will all parties involved in its completion.
- Some of the tools you might consider using in creating your action plan include:
- Large desk calendar
- GANTT charts (if you’re unfamiliar with this project management tool, check out this resource)
- Project management apps like Asana, Trello, orSmartsheet
- DO THE WORK. This can be the most difficult and frustrating step for entrepreneurs. We do love to chase squirrels and they tend to multiply when we have to knuckle down and get the work done. (Today I’m going to complete my….squirrel!)Build a daily schedule that both allows you to complete the required tasks and to engage in activities that inspire you. That’s why I break my goals into teeny-tiny bite-sized nuggets. It allows me to tackle a 20-minute task each day with the confidence that after a week,or month, it all adds up to major progress towards the big goal. You may also want to identify and secure resources and support you can employ to do the“grunt work” while you focus on the part of your business that keeps you fired up. This is also the point at which you may have to ask yourself – repeatedly – how is this task or opportunity aligned with my vision? Consistently and continuously reminding yourself of what you want to accomplish and that the task in front of you is a direct ticket to that success is a sure way to keep you inspired and keep those squirrels at bay.
- Measure and celebrate. Don’t leave success to question, create a list of metrics you will use to measure your success and then do it (“metrics”is just a fancy word for stuff you want to know). If your goal is revenue-based, measure the dollars. If your goal is product- or program-based, measure deadlines met or content developed. Whatever your goal is,determine how you will measure its completion. Then celebrate your accomplishments! Too often, we slog through the work without stopping to appreciate ourselves and what we’ve achieved.
If the idea of sitting and building out a plan for achieving your goals is leaving you cold, don’t fret. Even the Small Business Administration admits that entrepreneurs and small business owners aren’t great at planning – we’re action takers and doers,planning takes time away from doing the work! But, if you want to move from grandiose vision to exceptional success, planning and mapping out that path is a key step to achieving your goals.