I have been in project management in some way, since 1995. Yikes! Did I just say that out loud? So, when I began the process of figuring out how I might work full time as an entrepreneur, I did the obvious thing for me. I hired a coach! No, this is not an article where I’m going to pitch why you should hire a coach, although that's an excellent idea!.
Instead, I want to share what I learned from the experience of preparing for business. Why? Because it is not exactly as I thought it might be. This process works for small businesses, careers, transitions, and life in general.
You would think that, as a project manager, I would absolutely LOVE creating the plan. When it comes to my own stuff, I absolutely hate it. The thought of having to figure out the list of things, organize it and then create timing and accountability for it feels daunting for one person and, for small business owners, planning can often happen by yourself. So, I’ve created a process that works for me, because I needed a way to look forward to it, and to be able to measure it in a fun and joy filled way. Feel free to use whatever resonates with you!
Step One; DREAM!
I start every planning session by dreaming. At the end of this year or season, or whatever period I’m planning for, what do I want to look back and see? How will it have felt? Who will I have impacted? What was I passionate about? What was gleeful fun? What did I learn? What did the experience look like? Be specific. Think about this not just for your business or work, but for your family, friendships, new people who will come into your spere of influence.
I recommend a few things to do this. First, get some prompting if you need it. I found a great book that offers questions to answer about your dreams. Next, draw pictures of what you hope for. Don’t worry if you’re not an artist. Use symbols, cut out pictures, draw them in crayon. Whatever makes it fun and easy for you to see the outcome you want. My friend Lisa Kentner, who wrote A Million Little Miracles would call this sharing with the universe what you want to happen, to attract it.
And it works! In last year’s dream sessions, I drew a picture of me and my husband on a beach vacation. He was fishing and I was sitting on a beautiful porch. I would show you the picture but I’m not that brave! By June that was happening in a place I’d never seen nor been to. The porch was almost exact, and the fishing was a fun adventure exactly as I’d hoped!
Finally, go somewhere inspiring to dream. I went to a new library with comfy chairs that looked out over a nature preserve. Get a different view.
Step Two: Map It.
Use your dreams and create a mind map. The initial bubble is the period (e.g., 2024). Then draw an arm from the time bubble to the first thing you want to accomplish. Once you get all your desire bubbles in, then brainstorm ideas.
Hint: I don’t do this in one sitting. I start, put it down, come back and then do that several times until I feel like I’ve got everything. Feel free to share it with others who walk with you to get insights. Perspective is always a great thing.
Step Three: Decide.
Look at your ideas. Don’t feel like you must do Every. Single. Thing. Pick what you think you can start and create a small plan to begin. As you plan, envision what you hope the outcome will be of that specific thing. Maybe it’s just to make a few phone calls or send a few emails and see what happens. Maybe it’s to build something larger. The point is to decide and begin to act.
Step Four: Decide again. When you finish or time opens for the next thing, come back, and decide again. I set a cadence to remind myself to come look at my map. Over time I find that I just get rolling and things progress.
Notice that this helps me focus and not try to take on more that is reasonable. Be willing to be in the process, taking the small actions to achieve the bigger dream.
Step Five: Celebrate the wins! Even for the small stuff. Just a small YES! can support you. My granddaughter gave me these stickers. I put them beside my PC to remind me to celebrate even the small wins. They help you keep going. Last year, in addition to my dream vacation, I was able to acheive many of my work and life intentions. Not all, but then, I get to decide again this year!
So, you might notice that I don’t have a lot of tangible goals in this process. I do set them. I create an aim for what I want. I look at the numbers on a regular basis. But I try not to get so focused on the number that I forget the intent. The intent exists in the dream and the idea. And I’ve found the rest takes care of itself. Give it a try. Then go back at the end of the year and look. I’m betting you’ll see a million moments that led to a path for your dreams!