And Now, We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming to Bring You…
Something a little bit different.
Over the past several weeks, we’ve dug deep into the realities of these unprecedented times, including the current challenges and potential opportunities in the marketplace. To address them, we continue to provide free COVID-19 resources for our global entrepreneur and business owner community.
Our Core Purpose remains Growing Entrepreneurs and Businesses to Benefit All Mankind, and this post falls within that vein, albeit with an approach that differs somewhat from our virtual office hours, war rooms, Q&As, seminars and more on how to help your business survive today and tomorrow.
Today, we’re going to do a little exercise. To begin, set aside some time. Find a quiet space. Grab your drink and/or snack of choice. Settle in with a notebook and pen, your laptop or simply open your favorite note app on your phone. It’s time for a little story time, and in this case, you’ll be doing the writing.
Now, before you write off (get it?) this exercise, know that it serves multiple purposes that will benefit you now and in the long run. First, numerous studies have found that writing lessens stress, anxiety and depression—which many of us are experiencing at higher levels these days. And beyond the mental and emotional benefits of putting pen to paper, stylus to tablet or fingers to keyboard, what we’re going to do today—write down the goals you have for the future—has been proven to increase the likelihood of success. In fact, one study found that participants who wrote down their goals were 42 percent more likely to achieve them.
There’s a neuroscientific basis for that outcome. There are two things that happen when you write down a goal. The first is called external storage—housing information somewhere other than in your mind. When you do that, say, jotting down your goal on a sticky note, index card or word document, you can easily return to it time after time, thereby increasing the likelihood that you’ll remember and act on it. At the same time, you’re encoding that message in your brain, sending it to the hippocampus, a major player in learning and memory. Writing down your goal, rather than attempting to commit it to memory, makes you more likely to hold onto it.
You’ve no doubt experienced this phenomenon at one point or another. Ever miss a class and try to study for the test using a friend’s notes? Chances are, no matter how diligent a scribe they were, you didn’t do as well as you would have had you made it to the class yourself. Or maybe you’ve found that taking notes during an interview session has helped you find the right candidate for a job, whereas skipping a pen and paper during another meeting meant struggling to remember an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. By the same token, the more detailed your description of your goal is, the more likely it is to stick.
It seems to us, then, that this little activity is not a break from the day-to-day, but a business imperative. With that in mind, let’s get started.
You’ve probably thought about your business goals before, but take a moment to tap into them now. What have you always imagined for your operation—whether or not you’ve had the chance to bring it to life? Now, you guessed it… write it down. Don’t spare any detail.
Next, think about whether those goals still feel right. Are your current goals bigger than they were before? Smaller? Have they taken on a different shape in the current landscape?
Maybe this unique environment has made you consider new ideas you hadn’t thought of previously—a tele-health component to your medical practice, family meals delivered every Sunday to your restaurant customers’ doors and more—that are worth holding onto and working to expand on even when the pandemic subsides. Fold these concepts in, considering what they might look like at scale. Maybe today you have one location serving the community, but what if you were to expand to three locations, or five or find a way to franchise your business model? Put it all down on paper (or screen).
With clearly defined goals in mind—and external storage—let’s boil it down into something you will see every day. Transform those big goals into a single sentence, or even a word or two, and put them on a sticky note or index card or simply hit print. Make a few copies and post them where you’re most likely to see them: in your office, on your car’s dashboard or tucked into the mirror in your bedroom.
Finally, congratulate yourself. You’ve just made a significant step forward in ensuring your own success today, tomorrow and beyond.