Last week, we looked at how to get your business idea off the ground: from ‘idea’ to ‘I do’. An important part of this was checking the idea against your personal success criteria. When you’re creating your own business (or your own career path more generally), you want to make sure that it’s a good fit for you. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself creating the same cage for yourself that you were trying to leave behind – or failing to create anything lasting at all and feeling lost as to which direction is right for you.
I left my corporate job in 2013 with dreams of heading off on adventures, ‘being a writer’ and starting a business. In the first months after leaving, however, I found myself going to interviews for similar roles to what I’d been doing, just in other companies and industries.
Later, after setting up my limited company, I took on big projects where I was doing the same kind of work for other companies on a contractual basis. Then I went through what I like to call my ‘hippy phase’, when I focused on adventure and personal development but less so on growing my business and earning an income.
Over the last five years, I’ve zigged and I’ve zagged as I’ve tried different things and been distracted by different ideas and opportunities along the way. Each decision point, at least in the early years, has been incredibly painful as I ummed and ahhed about what was best.
My story is one that I see repeated among many of my clients. They quit their jobs, or start businesses, with a clear intention of what they don’t want but often only a vague idea of what they do want. They also have money concerns and fears around failing in their more audacious and creative ideas.
As a result, people get pulled in different directions, starting and stopping, and tempted back onto those dreaded job sites where they apply for random roles in particularly panicky moments. They are easily influenced by what other people say about their business ideas or career plans and lack the conviction to stick to one path. Or they do stick to their idea but end up creating something that doesn’t bring them the fun and fulfilment that they were hoping for.
What to do when you feel lost? Heading in the right direction
I’m a big believer that you do your best work, and enjoy it most, when you find (or create) work that leverages your individual strengths, that fits with your personal values and that allows you to be your very best self. In order to find (or create) that work, you need to know what those parameters are!
If you don’t know what you’re aiming for then you can’t possibly work out a plan to get there. You know that you’re here, at point A – but point B could be in any direction, and it may well be that the decisions you make in the short term take you away from that point B, without you realising it.
This is not about having an exact job title and description that you’re going for, or a detailed business plan mapping out each and every aspect of how your business will grow over the next ten years. It’s about having a vision, a direction in which you’re heading – while allowing for some flexibility as to how exactly you’ll get there.
Having those parameters will help you make decisions as to what kind of business you want to develop and how you’re going to set it up; which opportunities to say “yes” to and which to say “no” to; and how to make your business, and you, thrive.
Finding your guiding star
To help you – and me! – to identify and prioritise all the different aspects that are important for you to thrive in your career and business, I’ve developed a framework to help you get clear on what works for you and ensure that what you’re creating takes you closer to that. I’ve called it ‘The guiding star’ and it comprises the following five points: Values, Feelings, Environment, Strengths, Characters.
I teach this in detail in my coaching programmes. If you’re interested in reimagining success in your business and career, then book a call with me and let’s discuss how we can work together.