Roadblock or moving forward?

Street with arrow pointing forward

What do you see as the biggest problem or opportunity for your business/organization over the next year?

What can be done about it if it’s a problem?

How can you make the most of the opportunity you see?

Much of life, especially in business, is focused on being practical and covering the bottom line. Of course we need to do that if we’re going to stay around and be able to serve our customers.

But it’s all too easy to forget about dreaming of how things could be or should be. A nagging problem holds us back or an opportunity goes by, all because we were too busy just keeping up with things and attacking the problem or grabbing onto the opportunity seemed overwhelming.

What if it didn’t have to be overwhelming?

The Problem

Back to that problem in your business I asked about. It may be something recent or it may be something that’s been an issue for some time.

What if it was gone? Just like that. All gone tomorrow!

Visualize how that would change your business! Your life!

What other things you’ve wanted to do would you now be able to do, because that one thing that was holding it all back is now gone?

With problems, we often conclude that there’s no quick way to fix it, so we have to just slog on. But what if there are things that can be done to take care of at least a part of the problem? Improve things just a little bit?

That would be worth doing.

Because an incremental improvement is better than things staying just the same. Plus once we make the incremental improvement, we might find that there’s something else that can be done and who knows, the whole big problem could get solved in the end.

The opportunity

Now let’s turn to the opportunity you see in 2018. What is it? Would it totally change things in your business? Would it complement what you’re already doing? How would your life and business be different at the end of 2018 if this opportunity became reality?

What is this opportunity worth? What will it take to make it happen?

What is one actual step you can take today to move towards making it reality?

With opportunities we often shy back, feeling that we don’t have the resources or won’t be able to pull it off. Maybe you’re concerned about what others will say if you reach for the stars and don’t make it. And maybe you don’t have the resources right now. But should that stop you from doing anything?

The path forward

The funny thing is that the path from here to there is pretty similar for both problems and opportunities.

We need to first correctly understand what the problem or opportunity is. Clear definition.

Then we need to know how things will change if the task is accomplished. “I’ll know it when I see it” is just not good enough. Chances are when things get tough (and they will), you’ll be tempted to give up, figuring it’s not worth it to press on. A clear understanding of how things will change at the end will help us keep going.

Finally we need to know something about how to get from here to there. A full, detailed plan would of course be nice. Sometimes that’s not possible. Or making the plan becomes too overwhelming.

So we find one thing, a starting point.

Consider driving from New York to Los Angeles.

You can of course map out the entire route, day by day, road by road, before even getting into the car. The plan could mark out exactly where to stop each night, where to get food and gas and so on. It would be very efficient to do so, as you can find the very best route. Lots of time and effort will go into the planning and for some people it will be so overwhelming, they decide to just stay home.

Or you could be standing in Times Square in New York and conclude that since Los Angeles is west of here, I need to head west. That means taking the Lincoln Tunnel to get over to New Jersey. So let’s start with that part.

Of course once you drive through the tunnel, you’ll find yourself on the New Jersey Turnpike and it takes you west-ish. So you keep going for a while. Eventually you’ll get more directions, but for now it’s fine and the key thing is, you’re moving towards the goal.

As we take that first step, we often also find that it wasn’t so bad and so are encouraged to keep moving, tackling the problem or opportunity.

Be it problem solving or making opportunities become reality — trial and error will be involved (even with a detailed plan). But it’s also for certain that we won’t solve any of it if we don’t get moving.

As a friend of mine used to say: “You can’t steer a parked car.”

Looking forward

Looking at the next 12 months, very fresh and wide open, what’s the problem or opportunity that you see that can have the most impact in your business or life this year?

What one thing can you do today to get started on solving that problem or making that opportunity become reality?

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