People make life changes for many different reasons. Some want to make more money. Some want a sense of personal growth. Others want to find a sense of accomplishment and reward in their work.
Identifying why you’re making a change is the first step in developing a strategy to create that change. Are you creating a new business? Do you want to switch careers? Or are you trying to expand your horizons as a person?
You need the right strategy.
We’ll look at each of those questions in a moment. First, however, you need to make a conscience effort to create a strategy. Without a strategy, you’re not going to get very far, and it will be terribly easy to get sidetracked.
Having a strategy is important, but that’s not enough by itself. You need to develop a strategy that’s going to work. You need to have confidence that your plan is the right plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be.
Now, let’s look at each of these.
Let’s start with looking at a new business strategy. We’ll start here for one simple reason: entrepreneurship is growing rapidly. More than ever, individuals are carving out their own destiny in the work world with new businesses. As millennials reach their 30s and 40s in the coming years, they’re hitting prime time for new business creation. Even if you’re outside of that demographic, there’s really no time like the present.
An effective strategy for a new business must address four specific areas of concern:
Who do you want to be involved? What skill sets should they possess? What kinds of values and ambitions will best serve your new business? How much experience, education or just knowledge do you need them to have? Who will your workforce be, and will they be seasonal? Will you try to attract or recruit certain thought leaders? All of these questions must be answered.
How will you deliver your product? Where will you innovate your operations to create efficiencies? Let’s look at JetBlue as an example of new business growth through operations. The company grew because they standardized one model of jet, making short hops between airports and creating shorter wait times. In turn, these saved the company on training, airport contracts and more.
Who will you be serving? What need are you addressing, who has that need, and how will you reach people with that need? How will you modify your marketing as you produce results (or a lack of results)? Flexibility is key. Remember the Godley & Creme lyric: “Keep it simple / Keep it neat / Aim your hook / At the man in the street.”
You must have a strategy to address the competition. Who else is serving your target audience? If customers aren’t coming to you to meet their demand, who are they going to? You need a strategic advantage over the competition. Scott Cook grew Intuit by recognizing that the biggest competitor to QuickBooks wasn’t another software package, but rather paper and pen. Intuit grew by making QuickBooks simpler to use than paper and pen.
At the start, your new business strategy must address all four of these categories.
Increasingly, Americans are becoming more mobile in their careers. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that a person entering the workforce today will change careers at least three times in their lives, and that doesn’t even take into account lateral moves within a given field.
Rather than just leave it to chance, you can choose where you want to go by developing a career strategy.
Setting a career strategy isn’t the same as starting a business. It involves a whole lot more introspection. You have to ask and honestly answer a number of questions about what’s going on inside of you. For example:
Once you have a career goal in mind, you need to map out the steps. Remember that you’re not only looking at the end goal; your strategy should reflect your passions, your skills and your practical needs.
In other words, the route – as well as the destination – needs to fit you like a glove.
Developing a personal growth strategy is based on one simple premise: your development is your responsibility.
Many people go through life waiting for something to happen. Guess what? It won’t. Personal growth doesn’t swing by for afternoon coffee. You’ve got to bang on personal growth’s door until it answers, and then seize it for yourself.
Let’s think of your personal growth strategy as a ladder.
Before you can engage in a personal growth strategy, you need to make a decision. Your personal growth has to be a top priority. You need to spend more time and energy working on your own growth. Just like a ladder, you can’t start with some other step. You must start here.
You need to be willing to make it all about you. Look at who you are today. Look at who you have become over the years. Strip away everything that inhibits personal growth. Lay aside those characteristics and ideas that were never really yours to begin with, the things you acquired by the example of others. Those are borrowed traits and they will interfere with your growth.
Choose how you’re going to develop, rather than what an organization or another person wants you to develop. Those things might be the same, but only if you choose for them to be.
Take time to support what you’re good at. Remember Newton’s First Law: “An object in motion tends to stay in motion.” It’s easier to move a ball that’s already rolling than it is to push one that’s not.
If you do the things you’re already good at, other improvements will come along with it.
Take one thing that you do, one of your strengths, and focus on it. Focus on it today. Make it a part of your routine. Give it your best shot, and own the results. Be proud of it.
This works best when you take an ordinary task and make it extraordinary. Tweak it. Make it better. Soon you, along with everyone around you, will notice the personal growth you’ve created.
Change is a constant. What that change means to you – whether it’s a new business, a career trajectory or personal growth – is largely up to you. Implement the right strategy and success, while never guaranteed, is a lot more likely.