When you look at life or business, we believe you must go through a simple process. First you define your beliefs, then your values, then things you are passionate about, and eventually you determine your purpose. After that, you define your vision. This is the ideal path you want to be on, whether life or your business. You write a plan that is guaranteed to cover all bases. Then reality hits.
The problem with forward movement is reality. You’re on your path and BAM! There is that pesky reality. We opt for short-term happiness every time. We get off the past. We compromise. We redefine our purpose and vision. We start down another path.
After several of these shifts, we forget what our original vision was. Our need for acceptance pushes us to follow someone else’s path. All the self-help books describe an ideal path, not reality. Sometimes we come close but more often we reach a dead-end. The same is true for business or life. We can find “best business practices” and can spend a lot of resources to define a strategic plan. We still fail.
What causes us to fall off our path so easily? Part of the explanation is that circumstances are not one-dimensional. Life is complex and filled with unexpected events. The best plan possible cannot be flexible enough to accommodate all that can happen. It’s for this reason that, in business or life, strategic planning is essential. That’s where you attempt to figure out all the unexplained events that could happen with action plans. Even then we tend to put the plan on the shelf. We deal with events throughout the day and have a tendency to forget all the planning we did.
When you stand back and look at this ambitious picture you will see that our day is filled with events and decisions. We have observed that most of us tend to think and react similarly. What we see is that we tend to always search for happiness. We also want to be right, accepted, and viewed as someone that is in control. We also want to be viewed as someone that contributes positively to any circumstance. Failure is never our intent. With all of this going on with every event, we are not inclined to review our strategic plan. Every day we deal with hundreds of events and decisions.
We can see many examples of this all around us. Look at people trying to diet or stay on a budget. It is easy to fall off the path. Sometimes we get so far off our ideal path that we get lost, and it is just easier to stay on the path we are on or just to stop and restart the whole process again. We have seen this happen too, both in business and in life.
So what is the answer? I believe that our ideal path cannot be defined so narrowly that we fall off with no effort. Our purpose should be broadly defined so that there is room for some unplanned events and for some self-correction. The key to doing this is to have a well-defined belief, a good set of a few well-defined values and an intimate understanding of what you are passionate about. Now work on a strategic plan that allows for your natural inclinations to be accommodated as you walk your path.
“Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.” ~Oprah Winfrey
About the Author
Owls were considered creatures of wisdom and Dave Favor and Cheryl Leone are no exception as they write as The Wise Owls. With almost a century of experience together in business and life mentoring, Dave and Cheryl bring a new thought process to owning a business and owning your life. Together they live in Raleigh, North Carolina, and through their parent company own Catalyst Group, Inc., home of Wise Business Leader. Watch for the newest book Gone for The Gold: Self-evident truths for living and working coming soon. Questions? Email the Wise Business Leader (a.k.a. Dave Favor).
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