It’s hard to believe we’re finishing up June and heading into July. Besides the fact that time is moving quickly, the end of June marks the end of the first half of 2017. That makes this a great time to assess how far we’ve come with our progress for the year, and redirect if we find that we’ve gone off-track for some of our most important and meaningful goals.
It can be a little disheartening to stop mid-way through the year, look around, and realize you’re not as far ahead as you’d like to be. There are some steps you can take, however, to set you back on track, and even gain some lost ground. Here are three things you can do as you take a mid-year review of your progress.
Expand your horizon, but only if it makes sense to you
This is about diversification. Adding another set of skills or a secondary offering is great, but only if it makes sense to your vision, to where you want to be, or to your business model. For example, a recent client of mine who has had tremendous success in the finance industry running a community bank came to me for advice about expanding his reach to a younger audience. A colleague had recently reached out to him with a great opportunity. The offer was a teaching position at a local college working with students on finance. He would make new connections, get more exposure, and have the chance to influence young people. It sounded great, so I asked him what teaching experience he had. He said none. I asked him if he understood the time commitment. He did not. So, I asked him why he wanted to do it, and the more he talked, the more he realized that he didn’t really want to do it, it just sounded like a great opportunity that he “should” take.
If you’ve fallen into the trap of taking on anything that comes your way because you’re afraid of missing out, or you think any experience is better than nothing, then this is a good time to go back to the plan you created at the beginning of the year. If you don’t have a plan, start one now. The more you can write your vision down on paper, whether for your career or your business, and then build the path that will get you there, the easier it is to say no to opportunities that might not fit your plan for the successes you want to achieve. People will always come to you with great offers in areas where you’re not that familiar. For instances like these, it’s best to go back to your plan, ask yourself if it adds to your vision, and then decide if it’s worth the investment. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.
Be innovative, but stay true to your core purpose
On the other hand, my client also received an offer to speak at a local industry event. This event would position him as an expert in his field (which he was) and introduce him to young entrepreneurs and local start-ups interested in learning more about business loans. With this opportunity, he was still able to influence young people, and advise them on the best ways to secure financing for their business ideas. He was meeting new people, making new connections and gaining exposure in an area that he didn’t realize was hungry for his input. He was also learning about the specific needs and investment habits of young entrepreneurs, which put him in the position of being an expert that others went to for advice.
Being innovative can take many forms – exposing your ideas to new audiences, creating an offering that competitors have overlooked, or finding a new medium to deliver your message – but for it to be successful for you, it must be a logical next step to fulfilling the purpose you set out for yourself or your business. Without that guiding principle, it can be easy to invest in a platform that may not work for your message.
When abundance comes, be prepared
The best part of a mid-year review is to see how your plan is coming together, to make the adjustments necessary and then move forward again with purpose. Once you’ve made those adjustments, new progress starts to take shape. So how are you preparing for that?
Hiring new staff, taking on more responsibilities, or committing to a new offering can be exciting, but overwhelming. It’s important to make sure you’re developing the systems and processes you need to grow as you make progress. This reduces the chance of having to start from scratch further down the line when your time is better spent on other things.
If you keep falling off-track, however, you may need to ask yourself what caused the detour in the first place so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes. This helps you break or eliminate a hidden habit in the way you address certain situations. Start by asking yourself the following questions, which will help you evaluate the progress you’ve made so far this year, and help you take a leap toward the progress you still want to make.
- How do you respond to frequent and/or major change?
- How do you make tough decisions? (How long do you take? How much information do you need?)
- What is your tolerance for risk? How do you respond to employees and colleagues who take risks?
- How do you respond to failure and mistakes made by others?
- How well do your behaviors match up to your and your organization’s stated values?
Keep in mind, these questions are intended to help you reflect, and shake you out of ways that may be sabotaging your success. To get the most out of this reflection, try applying these questions to one situation that has you stuck. How can you get it back on track while staying true to your vision and core purpose?