Don’t squeeze me too hard
What do you do when you have a new idea? Not just any idea but the kind of idea that catches you off guard … gives you that flash of inspiration. You feel exhilarated and your eyes shine brightly with opportunity.
What happens when you start to think about getting that idea turned into reality? Do you fly by the seat of your pants, take big action and strike whilst the iron is hot?
But what if you take on too much and realise you are spinning way too many plates as the idea slips down your to-do list. Perhaps the idea sounded great in your head but now that you’ve said it out loud, it feels too big and scary and you talk yourself out of it.
Several years ago, I found myself burnt out from taking big action on new ideas after following the traditional SMART goal setting tools and work-harder mentality. It was quite frankly exhausting. Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and to a timescale … my head starts hurting again just thinking about this stalwart of planning tools.
After years of playing SuperWoman and pushing hard on my ideas to turn them into action (and yes, the big pants over my jeans was a never a good look), I went the other way in extreme. I was burnt out and all I could do was try to free flow it, pretending I didn’t really care about the outcomes but then getting anxious and stressed when I didn’t make the sales I had expected.
What I teach my clients today is a balance in the middle of these two places.
SMART push energy and work-harder mentality can burn you and your big ideas out. Squeeze too hard and you squeeze the life out of your idea.
However, the other extreme of free flow and expecting the unicorns to listen to your daily mantras and poop success out onto your desk without taking any action, doesn’t cut it either.
It’s a fine and delicate balance of holding your idea lightly enough to be playful and curious, whilst formulating a plan to take action in a considered and inspired way.
Now before you think I’ve gone all woo woo on you, let me bring you back to planning.
The style of planning I teach today is way different to what I use to practice and preach five years ago. Gone is the SMART goal setting but it’s still highly focused and action orientated Here are the 3 key differences.
- Less is more. One of the problems that a highly creative brain gives you is the endless stream of ideas. You often get stuck on the “How?” question but rarely on the “What if?” But too many What If’s and it can spin you out of control, as the ideas that come out of you multiply and before you know it, you’ve got a dozen or more projects on the go. It’s why you never quite finish that online course or get started on your book or finish your website if you’re trying to “do it all and more”.
So when it comes to planning out your ideas for your business, it’s important to break your planning periods down into 90 days. 90 days is a perfect timeframe to keep you focused on doable actions whilst being far enough in the future to allow you get some serious shit done.
Then the secret to making these 90 days work is to have no more than 3 projects or inspiration ideas to focus on. I do allow my clients to go up to 5 but at least 2 of these projects must be outsourced or delegated to another person to take action on.
There is Gary Keller’s One Thing theory that I know a lot of people love but for me and many of my clients, having only one thing can feel rather constrictive. I thrive on variety, so I’ve discovered that I need more than One Thing to keep me motivated, But more than 3 and overwhelm sets in and I squeeze too hard on my ideas.
- Be playful and unattached. When you fly with a new idea it’s easy to get attached to the outcome. SMART goal setting is all about outcomes as you have to get uber clear on exactly what you want to achieve. The problem I’ve experienced with this approach is that I get so hung up on getting the SMART goal that SuperWoman kicks in with gusto. I push and make things happen which can work for a short while but over a longer period time, burns me out. And because I’m so focused on the end result, it’s easy to ignore or miss out on easier, simpler or better opportunities to allow the idea to come to life.
When you take the playful and unattached path, you can actually enjoy the journey. The planning I teach is about breaking down your journey by milestones and signposts rather than strict target setting. The analogy I use is deciding which city to fly into at each leg of your journey but not getting hung by the terminal or the seat number you’ve got to sit in to get there.
- Be brave. The best ideas are the ones that scare you, ever so lightly. You feel a tightening somewhere in your body when you tell someone your idea. A slight rush of adrenalin or anxious thoughts rise up … not so much that you freeze or turn into a bubbling wreck … but just enough for your inner critic to say “Hang on … did you just say that? Are you sure? You could fail, you know. You could end up looking stupid if it doesn’t work out.”
Your inner critic wants to protect you and keep you safe. And in order to do that, it prefers you play small. Now playing big doesn’t always mean big, hairy audacious goals. You don’t have to change the world or turn your business into a 7-figure empire with 10+ employees. If you do, great. But the less you worry about comparisons and being guilt-tripped into taking action on “should-do” ideas, the happier you will be. Believe it or not, you DON’T have to have a regular passive income or a huge list of tens of thousands or stop selling your time for money to have a successful business.
Now I know not everyone agrees with me on this, but the clients I work with find it incredibly refreshing that I advocate going after dreams and business goals that fit their life values, family, health and wellbeing. Be brave and get visible but there is no real need to chase someone else’s dreams.
If you want to know more about the style of business planning I teach, then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give my office a call on 01428 607745. We can set up a time to speak and I’m happy to share more of my ideas with you and answer your questions.
The important message I want you to take from this is for you to hold your bright and shiny idea for your business in such a way it’s as if you are holding a ball of light. Play with it. Feel it’s energy. Throw it up in the air and see how it falls from time to time.
But just don’t squeeze it tight.
Know where you’d like to go with it. Visualise the outcome and allow it to be as big as you comfortably feel stretched. But keep your action taking in flow and allow opportunities to open to you. Enjoy the journey of making it happen rather than push hard and get burnt out.