It’s hard to have a clear vision when the future is so blurry.

I had a fascinating discussion with Steve Backley and Roger Black in the latest Mindsetting video this week about the importance of having a clear vision.

Steve described the current situation as being like the winters before a major athletics championship; that hard slog and long hours whilst focussed on a prize somewhere in the distance.

But Olympics and World Championships are immovably set in the diary (well they used to be anyway) so both the target and timetable are clear. To help them prepare, a key technique used by top athletes is visualisation. Picturing that moment when you do what it is that you do and achieve whatever it is you are aiming to achieve.

Then when the day comes you are simply acting out for real something you have visualised hundreds of times.

But in business it’s not quite so simple.

Is your target to just get back to normal? Or have you set your sights slightly higher?

Many of our clients have managed to protect much of their turnover during the pandemic but have had to work ridiculous hours to do so. With their normal social lives and hobbies on hold that’s all been achievable but its not sustainable for the long-term.

But changing things is not quite so easy.

The start point is to visualise what you want your business to look and feel like when you’ve hit your goals. I’ve talked about this many times when referring to the strategic planning process.

What changes are required to get there and what’s going to stop you?

Ah, “what’s going to stop you?”.

Someone I used to work with had a brilliant way of never changing anything or solving his major problem. It was quite obvious what he needed to do but he had two get-outs. When things were going well, he didn’t have the time and said it wasn’t necessary. When things weren’t going well, he argued that he couldn’t take the risk of spending the money. What a brilliant way to avoid change. And he could excuse himself from any blame (in his own head anyway) when the business slowly declined into oblivion.

Perhaps his clear vision wasn’t compelling enough. Perhaps he preferred life the way it was despite his protestations to the contrary.

And of course, that “head down, ignore what might be coming” approach to life may have got worse in the past 12 months.

As Roger says in the video, it’s “hard to look beyond tomorrow”. Maybe the vision can’t be as clear as it might have been and maybe you need to develop more clarity as time goes on.

As you develop your vision, you also need to consider timescale. The old interview question “where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” is a cliché and doesn’t work because its too far in the future to properly contemplate. Whenever anyone says they want to retire in five years, I don’t take it seriously. Five years is too far in the future to be real. Too far in the future to have to do anything right now.

Three years is better for a long-term plan. A year is even better. You can change a lot in a year.

In fact, where do you need to be in a year in order to be where you want to be in three years? Where do you need to be in three months to be where you want to be in a year? What do you need to this month to deliver 1/3rd of your goals for the quarter? And what does this mean for this week? What do you need to do in the next seven days?

So just do it.

It’s the short-term pain of making small changes and breaking comfortable habits that stops you.

Whatever your goals are whether they are to get back to break-even point, work less than 40 hours per week, sell your business or single-handedly bring down the British monarchy through the medium of Oprah you probably need to get started right now.

And if you need some help, you know where we are. Unless it’s the monarchy thing.

Have a good weekend.

Contact me today!

Malcolm Palmer

FCA

Managing Partner

01474 853856

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