Chasing rainbows won’t get you where you want to be


Have you ever felt like you were chasing a rainbow?  You know that there’s a metaphorical pot of gold out there somewhere and you’re running hard…towards something but you’re not really sure where or what that something is.

I’ve had this discussion with several of my clients recently (and been struggling with it some myself as well) – why are you doing what you’re doing?  Where are you going with your business and more importantly with your life?  It can be deep stuff – probably too deep for a simple blog post, but here’s why I think it’s critical and where a lot of people get lost:

Your business exists for 1 reason – to help you get what you want out of your life. 

It sounds simplistic, but I will tell you that I meet business owners every day that aren’t looking at their business this way.  They’re chasing growth just because it’s growth.  They’re chasing opportunities that they think others will be impressed with or because that’s how they’ve always done things.  They’re working with clients that they don’t like because they feel like they have to.  Not because it’s part of a bigger plan of what they want to get out of their life.

If you truly view your business as a tool to help you get what you want, then you will start looking at things differently.  It’s the difference between designing your life and mapping out the destination and outcomes you want versus reacting to everyone else and taking the path of least resistance.

The kicker is that you have to really know what you want out of your life first before you can really start making progress.  Stephen Covey talks about this in the 2nd Habit of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Begin with the end in mind.  By imagining and mentally creating your long term outcome in your mind first, then the creation a 2nd time in real life becomes much more practical.

Looking back at a great career

At the end of your career, looking back, what would you want people to say about you?  Would you want them to focus on:

  • How much money you made? 
  • How much you helped people? 
  • How you were able to run your business in such a way to maximize time with your family and friends? 
  • How you created something that was bigger than just you?
  • How you always treated people the right way?
  • How the customer was the most important factor?

These are just examples, but all of them would lead to very different ways to run a business – different decisions, outcomes and priorities.  None of them are right or wrong answers – you have to discover what’s really important to you.

Most people start their business with some kind of vision but it’s very common to lose that when things start getting crazy.  So what would you put as the foundation for your situation?

Show me the Money!

The obvious answer for most is that they want money – at least enough to give them financial independence.  How much is that?  Generally it always seems to be more than you currently have – however much that might be.  The problem with having money as the key driver for your business (or your life) is that in the long run it’s very unsatisfying – for most people once they have the basic needs covered (and then some) they need to find something that’s ultimately more satisfying.

Making money is important – you have to cover the basic physical needs for you and your family first before anything else matters, but beyond that you really need to think about what you really want out of your life – what do you want to be remembered for?

There’s not a right answer – everyone is different, but there is a wrong answer.  Not having a long term plan or idea of where you want to go, what you want to do with your life will leave you unfulfilled and drifting.  It also makes it harder to succeed in the short term as well as the long term.  Are you meeting your goals?  There’s no way to tell if you don’t have them clearly stated (written down).

Take the time starting this week to set aside time to think about where you’re going and where you want to go.  Are they aligned?  Are you consciously building a business that gets you what you want and need for your life to be successful (as you define it)?

Share your thoughts on whether you’re blindly chasing a rainbow or if you’ve got a good idea of where you’re going – I’d love to hear where other people are on this.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

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