June 6, 2012
Much is said about the importance of the big picture, the end game, the BIG goal. Experts and gurus alike encourage their clients to spend time focusing on envisioning the future they want. At first imagining where you’d like to be in several years time can be daunting, but most of us really get into it. The more we think about what we want in the future, the more excited we get! We picture ourselves in improved circumstances, happy and fulfilled. Finally, we’ve reached our destination! And, the hard work is behind us. Just before we give ourselves a congratulatory pat on the back though, our minds slip back to the present day reality and the wind quickly goes out of our sails. We are suddenly confronted by just how far we have to go. Excitement gives way to overwhelm. Our focus shifts from “this is where I want to go” to “how will I ever get there?”
This is especially true for entrepreneurs, who are constantly defining and redefining their goals and desired business direction. No sooner do we achieve a goal, when another emerges to take its place. So we are quite used to flipping back and forth between feeling excited and overwhelmed. The trouble arises when the goal is so huge and the anxiety about how to get there is so great that paralysis occurs. Unsure of how to chip away at all the work that needs to be done, we do one of two things – stick our heads in the sand making no change at all or completely exhaust ourselves trying to achieve transformation over night. Thinking big doesn’t mean much if you can’t move forward.
So what’s a gal to do? Stop dreaming big? Stop setting goals? No, of course not. The solution is to commit to embracing the small steps and spend more time focused on the present. Most satisfied entrepreneurs will tell you that their success is a result of consistent, everyday action and an incessant focus on what can be done NOW. Many successful people I know spend at least 5 times as much effort moving things forward then getting lost in the big picture. It makes sense, but still sometimes it can be hard to fend off that ‘I need to do it all’ anxiety.
In my experience when I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed I’ve found it helpful to remember the following six things:
· Entrepreneurship is always a work in progress. If you learn to embrace the journey instead of always wistfully thinking about the destination, you’ll enjoy it a lot more.
· As an entrepreneur, you’re gearing up for a marathon not a sprint. Small steps will help you pace yourself and ensure that you have the stamina to make it to your finish line.
· It is my responsibility to establish routines and habits that make my every day experience enjoyable and rewarding. This goes a long way in enjoying the daily reality of my job.
· If something feels too big to be actionable then it isn’t broken down enough. Break apart projects as much as you can before you put them on the to-do list.
· Working backwards is an easier way to create a time bound project plan. Think, if I want to be here in 2 months, what do I need to achieve in 1 month? How about in two weeks? How about next week? How about tomorrow?
· Some action is better than no action. You can’t always wait for the circumstances to be perfect. Instead, just get started.
How you handle the same challenge? What helps you make progress in the face of a big, daunting goal?
Strategic Entrepreneurship Expert – Adelaide Lancaster of In Good Company from Philadelphia, PA
Adelaide Lancaster, co-founder, is a successful entrepreneur who excels at making business ideas a reality and helping businesses grow to their potential. Adelaide is both a strategic thinker and a master implementer. She has spent her professional career dedicated to helping women find work that is meaningful and rewarding. Adelaide was recently featured in the book Upstarts!, as one of 60 Gen-Y entrepreneurs who are rocking the world of business. Adelaide was co-founder and Principal Partner of Berkman Fives a consulting firm that helped women professionals with career development and advancement and women entrepreneurs with business growth and efficiency. Adelaide also is a contributor to The Huffington Post and Daily Muse.
Adelaide also co-authored the book “The Big Enough Company”.