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What's Next? What if? What now?

3 Questions for Thinking and Moving Forward

· Whats Next,Change

For most of my life I've been a reluctant goal setter...

That all changed recently when I was involved in a 5-week sprint called Shipit. The objective is to see what you can accomplish in a short period of time. My initial goal was was not realistic, so I changed it midway through. In the past, I'd have abandoned such goals rather than adjusting them, but with the accountability built into the Shipit process, abandonment wasn't an option. So here was the huge breakthrough for me. Goalsetting is about a direction, not a directive. The point of the exercise is to exercise your assertion and improve the accuracy of your assertions over time. Most importantly, goals provide a framework for moving in the right direction.

Goalsetting is no longer the agonizing process for me that it once was. Here's how I put structure around the process of moving forward now, by asking 3 questions:

What's next?

Who knows?!

We get to find out!

We should certainly expect the unexpected, or what Marshal Goldsmith calls "The high probability of low probability events." Some events will be more desirable than others. The trick is to prepare for the unavoidable or inevitable by realizing you are part of what's next in your world. Because part of what's next is you - you and your who. You and your possibility. This is the only element you have control over. You decide what's next and who you want to be part of it. We all long for positive change, and each of us are the primary change agent in terms of what's next for us and for those we care about and can impact positively.

If you're struggling to get clear on what you want to happen next, try thinking about the things you don't want to happen. They can be an excellent prompt to decide what's necessary to prevent the undesirables from happening.

What if?

We tend to lose sight of what's possible when we look at the problems, but what if things could be better? Much better? Ten times better? Imagination can be an incredibly powerful force.

Here's another thing we don't know: we don't know what we're capable of. So, start by imagining what's possible, or even what's seemingly impossible (remember, you don't know). What if it's just a matter of finding out?

People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering - Augustine

What if it turns out you are enough? Enough to get better at solving problems and creating change in your world and the world's of other's? Imagine what that might look like.

What if you just picked one thing? Don't make it the biggest ugliest monster, but one that you could bite off without much undue anxiety, and just focus on that for now. As you imagine it, walk it through some "what if's"

What might you run into in terms of obstacles? Who could help? What might you need to learn? What if you succeed? Imagine how good that would be. Imagine failing; how bad could it be? If you began now, what could you pull off in a reasonable time frame? What if you could just make up a timeframe, and change it as needed? So...

What now?

Just the effort, the willingness to make change. The willingness to start by answering these questions:

  1. What's the most important challenge or opportunity you face right now?
  2. What's the best process for addressing the answer to question #1 now?
  3. What's the priority in accomplishing the answer to #2 now?
  4. What's the best plan for prioritizing it?
  5. What now? Today?

For example, below are some answers to the questions above:

  1. The challenge is getting to cash quickly
  2. The process for getting to cash quickly is sales and marketing
  3. The priority for sales and marketing right now is prospecting and developing the supporting framework for it, i.e. questions, scheduling appointments, etc.
  4. The plan is connect with 5 prospects this week, draft an email template, and a list of questions for those connections. Sketch out my value prop
  5. Call Robert and Tom and make appointments for tomorrow and the next day. Decide on 3 more. Write up a draft of the email template and run it by Tom and Robert. Ask them the questions above. Use the answers to pitch my value prop.

The framework is important, but the most important thing is to start moving in the right direction. If you stop or get off track, start again. Whatever you do, don't stop starting.

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