Why is it that the older we get, the faster time flies by? Do you remember being a kid and the two weeks before Christmas was an absolute eternity? Now 6 months seems to pass in a blink of an eye. If time flies when you are having fun, I must be constantly partying like it’s 1999.
A big part of business planning is evaluating. Planning is a highly iterative process and that requires us to constantly look back and ask ourselves what is working and what isn’t. That’s why I encourage all of my clients to pause and reflect every quarter.
I have them ask themselves to following:
What have I accomplished this past three months?
What did I try that worked?
What did I try that fell flat?
Did anything surprise me?
Have I left any loose ends that need attended to?
Am I on track for my yearly goals/targets?
This exercise can be quite revealing. It takes you out of the weeds and helps you zoom out to look at the big picture. Maybe you have been following a path that is completely unrelated to your business’ core focus, and thus wasting time and resources. If that’s the case, that’s ok! This is why we add this step in our process. You have identified your red herring, and can move forward ever the wiser.
Here’s one client’s story:
When it came time for me to Pause and Reflect, I realized that I was spending countless hours struggling, and I mean STRUGGLING, with a load of admin work. I am not the most organized person and because of that I have a brutal time during tax season. When I reflected on all of the time I spent trying to book-keep my way through my financials, I realized that I was wasting so much valuable time that could have been spent planning and growing my business! The beginning of the year may be tax time, but it is also prime planning time! I didn’t spend any time planning, and am now scrambling to make up for it. I vowed never to waste that time again and instead hired a part-time bookkeeper. Unlike me, they are experts in that field and therefore are FAR more efficient and effective.
I am eager to see what the next 3 months brings me and am looking forward to comparing September’s “Pause and Reflect” session with this one.
Sometimes it is difficult to have a strong sense of self awareness when you are so busy tackling your to-do list. This client had her epiphany after tax season. This makes her somewhat fortunate as her struggle was tied to an event, helping to make the challenge more obvious. Perhaps your situation doesn’t have one major issue that you can fix. Maybe it’s a bunch of little ones that go easily missed. My recommendation is to try keeping a daily log. Use this tool as a way of reflecting on each day and try to gain a better understanding of how you are spending your time. Then when it is time to pause and reflect, you have an invaluable resource to go through and determine where you are going right, and what opportunities still exist within your organization.
If you have an epiphany after going through this exercise, I’d love to hear about it.