Do you ever consider what you would do for free? Are you doing “it” now? What are you truly passionate about? I am referring to the kind of passion that literally makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning and hit the ground running! In marketing, we use a marketing audit to help create a realistic profile of the business and the goals we hope to achieve. Below I’ll take those same principles, with a little tweaking, and apply them to your most valuable asset…YOU! If you had a business, the same care and attention you would devote to your bottom line should be directed toward you.
Step 1- Have a vision.
You probably know the importance of setting goals and having a mission statement…yada, yada, yada. But the truth is, where there is no vision things perish, including you. Your vision is a mental picture of your future state. It identifies “why I am”. Ask yourself, “Where do I see myself?” Whatever you see, good or bad, will develop in your life because that’s what you choose to focus on. And since we are on the subject, let’s understand the fundamental difference between a goal and a dream. A goal is something you reach. It’s finite and has an end point. A dream, on the other hand, is something you live. It has no end and is evolutionary!
Step 2- Establish expectations.
There is an old scripture that reads “To call those things that are not as though they are, you must first believe they can be.” I think this speaks to a growing problem in our society. Many of us don’t expect anything and subsequently don’t ask for anything; then are genuinely surprised when nothing happens. I heard someone say “I’d rather ask for a lot and get some of it than ask for nothing and get all of it!” Establishing expectations will affirm what you need and want. So what has to happen to make your dreams reality?
Step 3- Find your muse.
What inspires you? Whatever motivates you will confirm what you should be doing in your life. Your muse is ever present and energizes you to do even more at the end of a hectic day. Here again you will consider what you would enjoy doing for free. Part of being successful in anything comes first from loving what you do. In searching for your muse I must offer this warning- you can not be motivated by financial gain. This type of inspiration is fleeting. You can not expect to maintain your drive if your focus is shallow and superficial in nature.
Step 4- Identify your niche.
This is your “calling”. What are you really good at? Here you will define (and mind) your (own) business! Your niche is not about anybody else and what they are doing. If you don’t know what you do well then ask yourself, “What do I hate doing?” On your road to self-discovery, it’s really important to recognize the things you do well and literally stop doing those things that drain and cause stress.
Step 5- Find a mentor.
A good mentor should be able to offer critical insight and analysis of the goals you want to achieve while inspiring and encouraging you to be your optimal best. Ideally this person understands the challenges you face in the industry and should embody the characteristics you want to emulate. I must stress the role of a mentor is to guide you not spoil you. While it is nice to receive accolades, it is more beneficial to acknowledge areas in need of improvement or exploration.
Step 6- Identify your target.
You already have a vision, you’re inspired, and you have found a niche. Where should you now focus your energy, efforts and attention? This is a good time to do what business people typically do when they are trying to asses a situation to determine “next steps”. Perhaps you have heard of S.W.O.T. analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). Anyone can do a SWOT analysis but in order for it to be effective you have to be honest. Your goal is to turn weaknesses into strengths and every potential threat into an opportunity.
Step 7- What’s your position?
Your “position” is your image or personal identity- how you see yourself. I think one of the greatest personal challenges we face is reconciling the person we are with the person we want to be especially if there are others telling us who we should be. If you have a poor self-image, then you must re-define how you think about yourself. Take a good look at the standards you use to determine who you are. Don’t ever define yourself by anything (or anyone) that won’t be around next year!
Step 8- Notice the trends.
Are you progressing? Don’t know? Well, are you in the exact same spot (situation) as last year, 3 years ago, 5 years, ago, etc.? The truth is if we all take a really hard look at what we have accepted, we might notice some emerging trends that may or may not lead to the vision we projected. The final step of this audit is essentially the most important because it exposes what you are actually doing and where it’s leading. Your actions or lack thereof, directly impact how much progress you will make in the long run. If you can’t easily spot your life’s trend(s) then ask yourself (or a trusted confidant) the following questions:
-Where is my life/career headed based on the choices I have made?
-What am I continuing to do that I should stop doing?
-Am I holding on to people, things, circumstances I should let go of?
-What is taking place in my life (or the world around me) that I should acknowledge or act on?
This “self-audit” is designed to help you achieve your full potential by creating a personal dream plan. The premise is simple- “if you don’t like where you are, there’s no reason to stay there” (unless you can envision yourself doing the exact thing you’re doing right now for the next 20 years). Even if you love what you do now, some re-structuring has to take place in order for it to continue to bring you joy for the foreseeable future. Realize the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" state of mind is likely what will keep you stuck. Sometimes it may not be broke but it could be outdated. So challenge yourself to move beyond your comfort zone. Get inspired, make a statement, start a movement, and enjoy the ride!