I love having a plan. A roadmap. A series of boxes to check off to know that, at the end, I will have achieved my goal. I was an A-student all the way through college. Follow the plan, get the grade, on to the next class.
And then I became an entrepreneur.
Even though I’ve been very successful without a business plan or any real marketing, deep down I’ve holding myself back from growing my business until I have The Plan in place.
I’ve drawn diagrams and filled out workbooks and signed up for courses and learned my ass off. I know about creating Unique Selling Propositions and sales funnels, and autoresponder series and content marketing. Hell, I provide those services to my clients! And yet, I’ve taken very few concrete steps forward with my business, because I don’t have a crystal clear picture of the destination.
I can’t see how this pile of puzzle pieces is going to fit together because the box with the picture on the front is missing. And, even though I’m embarrassed to admit it, that missing “big picture” vision has stopped me cold.
“Vision without action is daydream, and action without vision is nightmare.”
- Japanese proverb.
I’ve been going in circles for years. I’ve “committed” to taking action and then not followed through. And then I signed up to learn something else from someone else. Because this person or this programs looks like it has the key I’m missing.
To say I’m frustrated with myself is an understatement. I’ve talked about it a lot with Allison Crow, my intuitive, creative, soul-full business coach, and with the other women in my coaching group.
And, on my group coaching call last week, Allison started by sharing this with us:
“Magnificence is never created in a to-do list.”
And then someone else spoke for a little while. In my notes, I wrote:
“Fuck the 5 year plan.”
All of the tension I was carrying in my upper back disappeared, almost instantly. What if I don’t really need a plan?
It’s been a week and the phrase “Fuck the 5-year plan” keeps flying through my head.
I’ve made plans. I’ve made lists of action-items stretching from today until next year. The lists become insanely long and complicated and overwhelming and then I don’t look at them ever again.
Where do I want to be in five years? I don’t know. Does it really matter?
This morning, as I was pouring my coffee, I thought about 5-year plans. And the question that popped up was — Where was I five years ago?
What was going on in my life in July 11, 2009?
I was still living at home with my parents. My boyfriend (now husband) was “home” for the summer. We’d been in a long-distance relationship for the past two years while he was in grad school in Miami — and now he was moving to Los Angeles at the end of the summer. I didn’t know what was going to happen with our relationship. (Just thinking back to this spot in our relationship made me cry.)
I was working at my first paid gig out of college. I was a contractor for United Stationers Supply Co., where I designed office supply catalogs. I had just finished a huge project and was beginning the art direction for their School Supplies catalog. I remembered feeling so stressed and pressured that I would have panic attacks where I couldn’t breathe.
July 2009 was kind of a mess. And I didn’t even consider myself an entrepreneur yet (that came in November 2009 when I left United Stationers.)
Five years ago, I had no idea that where I am now was even a possibility.
I’ve been married to Jeremy for 2.5 years and we live in Los Angeles with our dog Scoop. My business thrived with the cross-country move. It’s shifted and adjusted and grown organically. I’ve worked with a mentor I admired for years — Peleg Top. I first met Peleg at the Creative Freelancer Conference in San Diego in August 2009, and hearing his story made me realize it was possible to strike out on my own, at my age. Peleg introduced me to Rich Litvin, and I designed his book The Prosperous Coach. We’ve worked together ever since and on Wednesday, I’m flying to London to work at one of his events.
If you told me in 2009 that a client would ask me to travel to London for work, I wouldn’t have believed you. I can hardly believe it now. Taking time this morning to reflect and look at how much has transpired in the last five years has really surprised me.
And, I’m sure that a lot more will happen in the next five years. Maybe I’ll be a mom. Maybe I’ll have employees. Maybe we’ll be living somewhere else. Maybe I’ll have a million dollar business. Maybe I’ll be doing something else entirely.
All of the leaps I’ve made in the past five years are the result of doing things that scared the shit out of me. I didn’t feel qualified to art direct professional photo shoots and design templates at United Stationers and I did it anyway. I was terrified to leave my family and move across the country. I said yes to designing a book, even though I had never done it before. I signed up for group coaching with Allison, even though the investment was a stretch. And, in February, I literally jumped off a fucking cliff at our kickoff retreat in Mexico.
Allison keeps reminding me to take “kaizen steps” – to make change, keep improving and moving forward.
And that’s what I’m going to do. Screw “The Plan” and the giant to-do list. I’m going to choose the next step, the one that probably feels scary, and just do it.
Today, that means pressing “publish.”