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She Breaks The Mold episode #41 Future Focused Thinking

Future Focused Thinking – Mindset Tips for 2020 Business Planning & Beyond

NOTE: I’ve moved to janetwhalen.com Listen to older episodes of the She Breaks The Mold podcast here, or join me at the new site for newer episodes of the Minimalist Business Academy podcast

Business planning for 2020 is a hot topic this month! So there’s no better time than now for some mindset tips to help you think about your plans with a future focus.

We get into trouble when we allow the part of our brain that likes safety, assurances and security to work with us on our plans 😉 Today’s episode is going to start you on a path to using your planning brain – your future focused mind – to move you in the direction of success.

One of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is Starting with the end in mind – or creating now what you want to have in the future. Doing your business now the way you want to be doing it in the future. Starting your business now with a clear idea of how you want it to look in the future. It’s based on the idea that we create everything twice: once in our minds, and again in reality, once we know the direction we want to head in, and a potential path to get there. If you know you want your business to hold specific values or exist within a particular model, why would you start out any other way?. 

Questions to Ask Yourself While Business Planning:

I review these questions in the episode, but don’t just listen and passively consume this info. After listening, take some time to answer these questions about yourself and the business you’re building:

What do you believe about your dreams coming true?

What do you believe about your ability to create the future you want?

What beliefs have kept you from creating it up til now?

From the perspective of your future self, if you visualize already having created your dreams, and making the changes necessary to get where you want to be, what’s different about you?

How do you view your challenges?

How do you behave differently?

How do you plan differently?

What do you want your future self to congratulate you on, if you could talk to her now?

What will she be proud of you for? How does she want you to think RIGHT NOW so you can be where she is in the best vision you can possibly dream up for your future?

What advice does she want you to ignore?

Listen:

She Breaks The Mold Episode #41: Future Focused Thinking

One of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is Starting with the end in mind – or creating now what you want to have in the future. Doing your business now the way you want to be doing it in the future. Starting things now with a clear idea of how you want it to look in the future. It’s based on the idea that we create everything twice: once in our minds, and again in reality now that we know the direction we want to head in, and a potential path to get there. If you know you want your business to hold specific values or exist within a particular model, why would you start out any other way?

It’s why practices like visualization work for us. And it makes a ton of logical sense, but it’s one of the first habits we drift away from when the rubber meets the road. It’s a struggle for most of my clients (most of us humans, really!) and it shows up in questions and comments like, “Who am I to try to start this business? I’ve never done this before?” or “I don’t know what the right decision is – I have no experience with this!”  When we get several months or even years into our businesses, and have months (or even years!) that don’t meet our financial projections, or product launches that don’t turn out the way we hoped, or employees who suddenly quit etc etc, it gets harder and harder to maintain a firm grasp on our future goals – and we might even stop believing they’re possible.

Reality hits and our brains see all of this as evidence that we’ll never be successful. It becomes 100% obvious to us now that we have proof that our idea was terrible, we don’t actually have what it takes to do achieve our goals and we should just pack it in. Because OF COURSE our current evidence is always predictive of the future right?

WRONG my friends. What’s happening now is just what’s happening now – it’s a circumstance. What predicts the future is OUR THOUGHTS about what’s happening now. If we give in to catastrophic thinking about the present, we will absolutely not be able to create a more successful future. Sounds reasonable right? The best part of this is that if you believe that, you also get to believe that the opposite is just as true. Forward looking, expansive thoughts create forward looking, expansive action.  

The job of an entrepreneur is literally to create something where before there was nothing. There is nothing to build on because it didn’t EXIST before you came along. A future focused mindset is the ONLY thing that’s going to get you started creating something from nothing, and I argue it’s the only thing that can keep you going when your primitive, terrified brain and every other person you know is telling you there’s no evidence to show that your dreams can come true. We start to believe this thinking is normal because it’s so prevalent in our society. It comes with fear. But you know what? There’s also no evidence that I’ll wake up tomorrow morning. Or the morning after that. But I will still go to bed tonight with plans for tomorrow as though I will. And so will you. You believe in it so much, in fact, that you’re probably already worrying about tomorrow right now! Or looking forward to it with excitement. We believe in the future before it gets here because it’s literally the only thing that keeps us going.

You, as the business creator and driver, are building this new entity based on nothing but an idea, and incredibly every decision you make is like adding a new row of bricks to the metaphorical building that is your business. It’s incredibly scary but also a very empowering thing to know this – that the only thing we’re doing as entrepreneurs is creating something from nothing with our brains! That’s it! That’s the whole gig. And every day you get to do it again.

A future focused mindset keeps you in the space of knowing every step is within your power to take or not take. You don’t hear “that sounds impossible”, but rather “How might that be possible for me?” It’s literally the mindset that takes an idea and turns it into an opportunity.

So in the same way that we don’t want to make decisions based on what other people are doing financially (in that case we’d be taking on all their money mindset issues without even knowing what they are), we also have to be judicious with how much advice we take from well-meaning but NOT future thinking folks who want us to make all our decisions on past evidence alone. Because it’s more predictable. It makes THEM feel safer.

But I’d like you to consider that when we do that, when we hope to play it safe and predictable by following our past success, all we can build is more of the same. If we do what we’ve always done or think what we’ve always thought, we’ll get what we’ve always had. Which amounts to  the same results over and over – or Groundhog Day, right? Have you all seen that movie?

When we think short term, we build short term rewards. Small, incremental and eerily similar to the thinking that produced the past results we based our plans on.

That’s the kind of thinking that our brains evolved with to keep us safe. But it doesn’t serve us as humans in a tehnologically advanced world where we no longer live in caves and no longer have to fear sabre-toothed tigers who want to eat us. And it definitely doesn’t serve those of you who dream of creating something that doesn’t even exist today. We know it’s uncomfortable to act against the flow of the crowd, but it’s also uncomfortable to think that way. But it’s where you have to live to build new things.

Being an entrepreneur, or being self-employed, is scary a LOT of the time. The path is not laid out neatly in front of us. We have no idea what the “right” steps are to get where we want to go, or even whether or not we’re taking the right path. The good news is, there isn’t a right path! There’s just the one we choose.

If you want something new, you have to think new thoughts about things that haven’t yet happened and then make them so.

To wrap your head around this, consider where you are now. Think about what you’ve achieved recently, goals you’ve met or exceeded. This success didn’t just land in your lap this morning. It’s a result of how you were thinking  and acting in the past few years when you set those goals or started yourself down the path to achieve what you now have. Imagine if you could go back in time and thank your past self for thinking that way?

If, on the other hand, you look at your current situation and it looks pretty much the same as it did a few years ago, ask yourself: What was I thinking back then? What have I continued to think all this time? I’m going to bet it was limiting thinking, or thoughts based on your even further past that helped your brain find evidence to not take any risks, not to step out of the status quo and not to think much about the future at all. Keep doing what you’re doing and you won’t be disappointed. You know how this will turn out. The think is, you probably are disappointed because you thought you could outsmart those thoughts and succeed anyway. But that’s just not how it ever works.

Now think about your future self – what would she say to you NOW about the thoughts you’re currently thinking? Are they productive or are you indulging in useless thoughts like doubt or confusion? We tend to spend a lot of time with thoughts like this but they don’t serve any other purpose but keeping us stuck – they give us reasons to stay here, safe in the status quo but not moving forward and definitely not achieving our dreams. Are they setting you down a path towards future success or are they safe thoughts, based on past evidence alone that will produce more of the same? What do you want your future self to congratulate you on, if you could talk to her now? What will she be proud of you for? How does She want you to think RIGHT NOW so you can be where she is in the best vision you can possibly dream up for your future? What advice does she want you to ignore?

If you’d like to do even more work on this, answer these questions (I’ll include a summary of all of these questions in the shownotes for this episode at beambitiousforher.com so you don’t have to remember them now:

What do you believe about your dreams coming true?

What do you believe about your ability to create the future you want?

What beliefs have kept you from creating it up til now?

Thinking again from the perspective of your future self, if you visualize yourself already having created these things, and making the changes necessary to get where you want to be, what’s different about you? How do you view your challenges? How do you behave differently? How do you plan differently?

Think about how you’ve been thinking recently, and how you need to be thinking to build the business you want and achieve what you want to achieve in 2020 and beyond. Feel free to reach out and let me know how answering these questions changed things for you – I would love to hear from you.

With that, I’d like to wish everyone a very happy holiday, regardless of how and what you celebrate. I’m taking the month of December off, just as I did last year, but it’s only a break from publishing podcasts…not from planning!

In fact, I’m planning to come back potentially with a new name and a slightly new focus. And that’s what I’m working on in December. And I know my future self will thank me for taking this time to plan out what I want this podcast to be for the future!

Until then, have a listen to some previous episodes if you’re new to the podcast. I’ll be linking to a few of my favourites on social during my time off as reminders in case you missed them the first time around.

I hope you have a wonderful end to 2019 and I’ll see you next decade 🙂

Thanks as always for listening.

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