The Only Question You Need to Ask to Set Your Short, Medium and Long Term Strategy

Strategic planning doesn’t need to be painful. Nor boring. It can even be fun 😉

If you’re new to it, these are 3 questions I usually ask new clients to get them thinking in a more strategic way straight off the bat…

  1. What should you stop doing? i.e. what isn’t working so well for you?
  2. What should you continue doing? i.e. what is working well for you?
  3. What should you start doing? i.e. what gaps still need to be filled?

Your answers should then be plugged into your plan for the upcoming week/month/year, AND you should ask yourself these questions every. Single. Week. Really.

If you want to take it up a notch, you can take those answers and combine them with your ideas, visions and dreams to create your own Values-Based Plan, and then put together a month by month plan of what you’d like to focus on.

But one step at a time, right? :) There is only really one question which matters when it comes to putting together any kind of strategic plan for your business (or your life)…

It’s what I ask myself at the beginning of each year, ask myself continuously throughout the year, and it’s what I ask my clients, over and over. Can you guess what it is?

The only question you need to ask – and answer – for yourself to make next year your best year yet is this:

What do you want?

It’s deceptively simple. And yet so often hard to determine, with the most common stumbling blocks being:

  • Not being honest & truthful enough with yourself to ask for what you deep-in-your-heart, irrational-but-I-gotta-have-it want.
  • Usually because you’re afraid you won’t get it and only want what you think you can have/get.
  • You don’t know where to start when it comes to defining what you want.

If it helps, here are a few areas of your business where you may like to get ultra clear on what you do want…

{Tip: Sometimes it helps to define what you don’t want first, before you can identify what you do want}.

Who do you want to surround yourself with in business (and life)?

Forget the typical demographic descriptions and go instead with:

  • The values your right people share.
  • The beliefs they have on matters of importance to you.
  • The kinds of movies, books and entertainment they may (or may not) enjoy.
  • The kinds of clothes they wear and style they convey.
  • The kind of language they use.
  • How they treat you when they work/play with you (Think things like: Respond on time, pay on time, respect my boundaries/processes/rules of engagement – or not!).

For example, the longer I’ve worked online the more I’ve honed in on the kind of people I really enjoy working with versus those I don’t. They are people who:

  • Share the same core values as I hold, primarily Freedom, Integrity, Excellence, Empowerment, Knowledge, and Respect.
  • Value the experience I can share, the knowledge I can impart and the guidance I can provide enough to pay for it, and not expect it to be given to them for free all the time.
  • Respect and follow the processes and boundaries I’ve defined and use in my business.

How do you want to work with them?

Again, go beyond things like the usual types of support such as digital products, one on one, group workshops and think instead of things like:

  • In one-off sessions or longer term relationships.
  • Working to a fixed schedule or provide support at your own pace.
  • Steady, ongoing effort or bursts of intense focus & energy.

What kind of schedule do you want to work to?

Most of us – even those of us who work from home already and run our own businesses across multiple time zones – are conditioned to work to a pretty standard schedule day in, day out. It’s time to think beyond this:

  • Do you want to work every day? Or every other day? Or maybe just 2-3 days a week?
  • When do you work best? Mornings? Afternoons? Late nights?
  • Do you want to be on demand all the time, or define when you are available to provide support?

What do you want to do on a day-to-day basis?

Get really specific here – think about the actual tasks and activities you want to be doing on a daily basis and those you don’t:

  • Which tasks do you enjoy doing? i.e. You look forward to and which energise you.
  • Which tasks do you dislike doing? i.e. You dread, avoid, put off and which drain you.
  • Can you create a more relaxed, achievable schedule of all the tasks you perform than you might currently have without it damaging your business?

For example, I’ve:

  • Actively been assessing and noticing which tasks yield results and which don’t so I can use my time more effectively.
  • Been less than rigid with how often I’ve posted to blogs & social media – and not noticed a negative impact because of it.
  • Entirely stopped doing some of the tasks I find tedious even though I can do them – such as keeping our sites up-to-date technically – by paying for services which do this for me.

By continually asking myself and focusing on what I really want, I’ve been able to build and grow my business ventures in a way that is more enjoyable, more sustainable, more effective and more profitable for both me and those I support, and ultimately more rewarding than ever before. So I’ll ask you again…

What do you want?

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