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Staying the Course

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Where do you stand with your life plan? 

businessjune2015Time flies it seems. Every year, it’s as if the clock’s seconds are cut in half. Despite that perception, the reality is that each of us has the same 86,400 seconds every day. True, some of us have more responsibilities, obligations or scheduling conflicts than others, but we all have the ability to work toward bringing our dreams into reality.

As the onslaught of heat waves roll through the Big Easy this June, think back to the freezes of early January and the start of 2015. You may recall the column I wrote about why New Years resolutions fail but why devising a life plan works. Picture this plan as if it were a literal map you could hold in your hands. Look at it to reference and to remember where you were back in January, and to determine where are you now in relation to where you ultimately want to be. Where do you currently stand? Have there been any small steps made toward turning your thoughts into your reality? Are you any closer toward reaching the final destination on your life map? Have you made any moves to cut out what is not working in your life yet, so that you can make room for things that are in alignment with the intentions behind why you want what you have identified as your ideal goal’s end point?

If your ambitions, motivations, or sense of purpose have faltered, do not fear. These are natural processes that occur in a life’s journey, and, besides, you still have another six months left of 2015 to push through and conquer some elemental steps that may be necessary in achieving your goal. The key to moving beyond stagnation is to identify the underlying cause that is inhibiting you from making any progress. Our society is laden with a toxic abundance of people who blame outside factors on the state of their current situations. If you say you do not have time, then the goal is ultimately not your priority. Blaming outside factors is a victim mindset. It is toxic thinking, which is self-defeating and a detriment to a society and its economic state. Stop, and take responsibility for your own life. You are your own creator. Even if your current circumstances seem out of your control, there are factors within your control that you did not own up to when you could. From this moment on, never mistake an experience as something negative. It is a gift in disguise as something that challenges you to solve a problem that can lead to bigger opportunities. The truth is there are no problems that cannot be solved with the right attitude, a little creativity and the determination to discover where its solutions lays hidden.

For instance, too many people get tunnel vision with aspects of perfectionism. Do not cut yourself off with self-made rules that hinder you. Take each day one step at a time, and be sure that those steps — no matter how awkward, small or stationary — are nevertheless pointing in the right direction. Progress is progress, no matter how small. If your life plan is an extensive one, break it down into bits so that you do not end up with an emotional breakdown instead. It takes a long time to build a life worth living, but it takes only moments of self-doubt to crumble what self-worth you have. And a sense of healthy self-worth is an essential building block along the road of your life’s map.

One issue that burdens many along their paths toward obtaining their goals also includes exhaustion, or burnout. We all need downtime, but we also need to not let our lives’ true priority — our dreams — remain with our sleepy daydreams. Remind yourself of why your goal is important to you. Think of its long-term, intermediate and short-term effects. This tactic helps me prevent burnout, and short-term paybacks are like emotional paychecks that keep positive behaviors in perpetual motion. For example, set a goal to rise before the sun. Get over any discomfort that causes by getting the uncomfortable tasks of your day out of the way, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Doing so liberates your mind of all negative guilty thoughts, because you got done what you ideally needed to accomplish for the day. By getting your work done early, you can enjoy your open evening with a free mind. Reward yourself, and associate with your positive circle of influence.

When I counsel my clients, I ask them to write down their goals, values and top skill sets in order to realistically determine what amount of effort and time it will take to obtain either their desired sales price for a business or to attain financial freedom. Do not scatter your energies. Capitalize on what you excel at — your core competencies. I tell clients to focus on growing their businesses rather than working in their businesses. And I’m telling you the same. Focus on developing a life that you drive. Imagine that you are the captain and your life is a ship. Do not make the mistake of always drifting with the tides of the season. Get a paddle, and row to where you want to go. If you do not, then you are at the mercy of life’s unpredictable tides.

Comprehending your goals and your life plan helps you to capitalize on opportunities that will get you closer to them. When my clients can identify why they want to sell their business, grow their business or fix their business, they are empowered with the knowledge that is necessary to do just that. However, it takes more than knowing. It takes commitment to that knowledge. As a business owner, a person needs to own their actions — not just their business. Additionally, we are all called to be more than what we start out as. The term human being is a state of action. Being something takes more than a mind on autopilot. It takes will power to be whatever it is you want to be when you reach the end point that you’ve created for yourself (whether you did so consciously or not) on your life map.

Remember: Thoughts are Things!

Are you still in alignment with why you want to attain your desired goal? Does the answer to your why serve something bigger than yourself?

If your progress is stagnant, identify the underlying cause that is inhibiting you from making any strides toward the final destination on your life plan.

Take responsibility for your life. You create your life. Don’t make excuses like saying, “Oh, but I don’t have enough time.” The word “but” gets in the way of obtaining true progress. There’s no time for that kind of thinking if your goal is really your priority.

Remind yourself of why your goal is important to you. Think of its long-term, intermediate and short-term effects. This tactic helps me prevent burnout, and short-term paybacks are like emotional paychecks that keep positive behaviors in perpetual motion.

Remember, we are human beings. To be is a state of action. Start acting like you have attained your goal. Live out your life from that state of mind, and you are being what you need to be in order to eventually succeed.