How do you deal with something that gnaws away at you? [aka the story behind Shiageto...]
Updated: Jan 29, 2020
A new year is often a pivotal time to think about your life and your happiness. In fact it doesn't just have to be a new year, any big change can also lead to lots of reflection; be it a big milestone (40th birthday was a biggee for me), a change in your personal life (every time a relationship has ended, I move apartment or start a new job seems to be a trigger for me) or just any external stimuli that gets you thinking (for example friends sharing their good news about jobs, babies, etc or world events taking a turn for the worse; you name it there are lots of stimuli).
Most of the time this reflection can be a flash-in-the-pan and leads to no change in the status quo but occasionally it can gnaw away at you and you can't put it down. When this happens it not only absorbs a lot of your focus but it ultimately robs you of your effectiveness and that's just bad all round.
So, what should you do? I seem to get asked this a lot recently and have been chatting with lots of friends who are going through this themselves (see my recent vlog). This is also at the heart of the challenge many businesses that I work with are going through and the approach I advise is based on the same structure and one I use myself. Let me outline it briefly, using my own personal journey if I may?
If I rewind to the middle of 2019, I was fast approaching my 40th birthday and was feeling a little frustrated with what I had achieved in my work and in my personal life; it was gnawing away at me and I felt I needed to do something about it. I may not have realised it at the time but, thanks to my analytical ways, self-awareness and years of consulting structure, I self-applied a 4 stage process to help accelerate me through the fog and ultimately set the wheels in motion to the creation of my own little business.
The 4 stages for addressing any challenge you have and determining a way forward
1) I spent time working out what really was bothering me - This stage can be the hardest, not only because it required being deeply honest with myself but because it seemed like there were multiple things that were at play. I used questions like:
"What are you really after?",
"What would you do if nobody else cared or paid you to do it?",
"What are you currently doing that you enjoy?",
"What are the facts telling you about how you currently spend your time?"
I asked myself this multiple times in multiple ways to really tease out what I wanted from life, making sure that it was honest and making sure that it was more about the pull of something I did like rather than the push of something I didn't. Crucially, I also begun to challenge myself to prioritise what was most important of all from the lists that I had drawn up; it's easy to have a list but having one thing (and you need to know that most important thing) is damn hard.
If you flip this first stage on it's head, it's actually all about setting a VISION for yourself (like any good business would).
2) I then asked myself what was stopping me from achieving what I wanted - this stage was easier, I could come up with loads of reasons. I'm a very creative person it seems and I was filling pages and pages with reasons. However, once I started to group these into themes and challenging which were real and which were assumptions, the list became smaller and smaller and a lot more seemed to be under my control.
[Now, I'm in a fortunate position of having no mortgage and no kids, so I had less dependencies holding me back but it was vital to make sure if there were any real blockers so that I could keep them in mind for whatever ideas I was going to come up with.]
In many ways, this stage is like setting a bunch of STRATEGIC PRINCIPLES (or parameters) from which to bound any of my future plans. With the clients I work with, we do this all the time and often link it to a DIAGNOSIS of their business. Here though it is wise not just to work out the challenges they face and their weaknesses but to write down their strengths and opportunities too.
3) I then came up with as many ideas I could think of that would help me achieve what I wanted - Like I said, it turns out I'm very creative so this part was loads of fun. Literally, my apartment became a giant project room with post-its everywhere and white paper on the walls. I thought about jobs I could have, businesses I could build, countries I could move to, relationships I could enhance, and much more. No idea was off limits...so I ended up with a very long list.
But, thanks to the principles I had identified, I was then able to prune the list to a shorter one. However to move me from a list of ideas to my one big idea, I needed to use some criteria to compare each; looking back at all the thinking I had done for my vision and my principles, these were easy to identify. It wasn't about titles, nor salaries, or that such. It was what would give me the most freedom to pursue my passion to help others, to have fun and to reclaim my life a little more.
Once I began applying these criteria my mind was sharpening on the idea of creating my own little business :)
This LONGLISTING of STRATEGIC OPTIONS, DEFINING of STRATEGIC CRITERIA, SHORTLISTING of options and then narrowing down to one or two STRATEGIES, is exactly the same process you would do in the business world.
4) Finally I developed a detailed plan to bring to life my one big idea - Shiageto was beginning to form; I had the idea and that was it at the time. More than that I had the conviction and the confidence that it was the right thing as I'd been through the right process. That said, I actually needed to make it happen so my last step was to create a plan that I would follow to do this; the key elements here were identifying the different steps of work and the targets around these; my steps included working out:
what I would call the business,
what kind of work I would do, who I would work with, how I would spread the word and find clients, what risks I might face and how I could overcome them, etc.
There was lots to think about and some of it required more effort and thinking than others but it was all coming together. I didn't need the answers to all these right away but I needed the plan and this is what I had...and so Shiageto was born.
This last part of pulling together a STRATEGIC PLAN with specific TARGETS is the last part of what any business would do before getting on with it
It's coming up to almost 6 months later and I'm happy to say that the plan is coming along nicely; of course it's had some refinements along the way but that's just what happens (I'll be sharing more about my first 6 months in a later post).
The most important thing here is that I'm pretty sure if I hadn't gone through all this approach, I'd still be floundering. What was bugging me would still be gnawing away and not only would I be unhappy but I'd also be ineffective at whatever I was doing.
This is why I like helping people and why I set up Shiageto. Be it business or individual, we like to talk you through the same steps to give you your effectiveness back. Even if the plan is not to change anything at all, this is still a good thing because no idea is wasted and you get the confidence that you're doing the right thing already; it's immensely liberating.
So, be it what direction you should take your business, what career you should pursue, whether you should write that book or not, where you should move to, whatever; I can but recommend the simple approach above or offer my (and Shiageto's) services to help