You might be thinking about how to plan your future.
We are heading into an introspective time of year — a time when we take stock of the past 12 months and make plans for the ones to come.
I’m aware that the words “future” and “plans” might seem like they don’t belong together. Can you really plan your future?
And I agree — to a certain extent, the future unfolds and the best we can do is hang on for the ride.
But every day, we decide what to focus on. And when you’ve taken time to identify what’s important to you, you can make small decisions to plan your future that add up to real progress over time.
This is where a coach can help. And in today’s post, I’m going to show you how that coach can be you.
How to get the most from a coach, especially when the coach is you
A quick definition of what I mean by coach:
The kind of coaching I’m talking about here is akin to an athletic coach: someone who guides your efforts; holds you accountable; expects great things from you.
And when you know the right questions to ask, that coach can be you.
When you take time to define what you really want, those priorities will inform the decisions you make every day. Decisions about:
- How you spend your time at work and at play
- Who you reach out to professionally
- The kind of education you get: the books you read, podcasts you listen to, courses you take
Take a look at the questions below. Answer them honestly — remember, you’re coaching yourself here, so no one will see these answers but you.
When you download the worksheet, you’ll see a space at the top to type the date.
Consider going through these questions every time you need to refocus your efforts and plan next steps.
1. What does success look like to you?
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer
Here’s the beautiful thing about owning your own business: you get to define what success looks like. Professionally, you have a lot of power to plan your future.
Business success is usually about profits, but profit can look like a lot of things.
How do you profit from your business and your career? What’s truly important to you? Look at the ideas below and note which ones apply to you.
- Money and the lifestyle it provides
- Time flexibility
- Location flexibility
- Recognition from your customers and peers
- Helping others
- Doing work that contributes to the greater good
If there’s a different way that you profit from your business, note that. Getting in touch with your true motivations will ensure you honor them as you go through the rest of the steps.
Plan your future with both revenue and personal values in mind.
2. What are your assets? What do you bring to the table?
“If you count all your assets you always show a profit.” – Wilson Mizner
What education and experience do you have?
Entrepreneurs are lifelong learners. What have you mastered? What books have you read recently — what new skills have you acquired?
What are people always telling you you’re good at? Your natural talents may not seem like anything special to you if they come easily — but identifying these natural skills can help you build on them.
3. Where do you need improvement? What are your weak points?
“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.” – Kim Collins
Do you have ongoing challenges you deal with? Be honest with yourself here — no one is going to read your answers.
Even if your challenges are embarrassing, own up to them. Facing them head on is the only way to get past them.
Write them down, and write how you’ll work on them — including a deadline for getting past them.
4. How can you improve your skills?
“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
Every business owner has strengths and weaknesses. How can you build on your strengths and make up for your weaknesses?
What can you do to master the skills you’re lacking?
Don’t be afraid to wonder if it’s a good use of your time to try to improve the skill you might be lacking — or if it makes more financial sense to hire someone to help you in these areas.
Plan your future with professional development and team-building in mind.
You don’t have to be an expert at everything in order to run a business. You can build on your strengths and shore up your weaknesses by hiring strategically.
5. What should you focus on right now?
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” – Greg Anderson
We have limited time and energy. We’ll make more progress if we focus that time and energy on the right thing at the right time.
Plan your future business endeavors with that in mind.
This is one of the reasons I’m a big proponent of taking time to create a plan you can follow — like the content marketing strategy plan mentioned here.
Sort through the options and choose one that you’ll move ahead with.
6. If increasing income is a goal, what offer will you work to improve — or what new offer will you create?
“I … get the minimum viable product to market as soon as possible. It’s my job to be entrepreneur-in-residence, an internal change agent.” – Todd Park
When you want to boost income, you have two basic paths to plan your future revenue:
- Optimize an existing offer. Boost the price or look for new buyers. Build extensions on an existing line of business. Create marketing events — special promotions that bring in an influx of income.
- Create a new offer. If you’re planning your future offer — whether it’s a product or a service — ask yourself what a minimum viable version of the offer would look like. How can you deliver a high-value solution quickly and easily so you can test your new offer and refine it over time?
If increasing income is a goal, write how you’ll do that and give yourself a deadline.
7. How will you use your answers to plan your future in the weeks and months to come?
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Once you’ve defined what you want to work on, you’ll want to get started. But where should you put your attention?
Take some time to answer this last question:
What’s the first step you need to take to plan your future and move toward your goal?
One easy way to plan your future success is to break down your plans into actionable steps. Add those action steps to your calendar and block out specific days and times when you’ll work on them.
And finally, if you’d some help meeting your goals, I’m here for you.