Working Your Way Backward

How many times do you depressingly sit down and think “this is the most frustrating point I’ve ever been in my life?” It happens to us quite often. Not only does it happen to employees…but it also happens to entrepreneurs and businesses. We often get stuck and think it would be easier to do something else. We wonder how we got to this point. We get frustrated because this is NOT what we intended when we started.

Regardless if you are in a career or in the middle of a ‘kinda’ business, the advice is the same: what will you be proud of when you retire?

When we talk to someone who is already retired, we ask “What did you do?”

We get an answer: “I am a retired teacher…” or perhaps “I owned a restaurant.”

When you retire, what will you be proud of? Will you be embarrassed to say… a graphic designer? I worked at this little business doing something I hated? What will your answer be and what would you be proud to say?

The truth is, if you think about what you want to be doing when you want to retire and then work your way backward, life starts to look a little more clear. If your goal is to be a ‘famous speaker’ then everything you do right now should be with the goal of being a speaker! You should be shutting down the social media accounts that don’t work toward this goal, you should be taking extra classes and education that perhaps refine your ability to speak, and maybe you should be looking for an opportunity that introduces you into areas that allow you to speak!

The other thing: what will you speak on? Speakers are called upon because they are experts in a particular field or niche: what is your niche? You should be doing everything you can to gain more credibility and expertise in this area! If you want to speak on catering, then you should be practicing the art of catering, attending conferences around catering, talking and mentoring other caterers, reading books…or maybe even writing a book about great catering and business practices for catering companies!

Suddenly, business has renewed purpose and vigor. Your business now has something to work toward. For those who are in a career, this gives you a sense of direction. If you feel like you’ve outgrown your current position, look for something that will contribute to developing your wheelhouse.

For larger businesses, this is a little more difficult but even more important. Larger businesses start to weave in and incorporate multiple streams of income and it tends to clutter the ‘northern star’. In reality, every asset and function and income stream for a mid-size business should all contribute back to the same goal: what is the purpose of this business?

When we have multiple destinations, we give a lane to every single destination, and then suddenly we find ourselves overwhelmed with a hundred ideas and not enough cars to fill the lanes! As many a good business person has said, you need to ‘pick a lane’, and ultimately, a destination. If you find that you simply cannot decide, then, for businesses, you MAY have a situation where you actually have another business! If that is the case, do you have the time and energy to devote to another business? Do you have enough financial resources to make this secondary business worth it? As a career individual, if you have multiple lanes is one a career and another a side-hustle or hobby?

As an individual, if you think of your brain as real estate, don’t let 1% of what you think is a goal take up 90% of your mental real estate. Clear the mental clutter, let go of the things that are not contributing to your ‘end goal’, and create a new plan.