Seek Your Strategy for 2015 on a Vision Quest Sometimes, to see what comes next we need to take a step back.
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Right about this time each year, business begins to slow down just enough for entrepreneurs to raise their heads above the water and take a deep breath. Now is the time to reflect, while simultaneously looking forward, in order to lay the foundation for a strong start in the new year.
Instead of holing yourself up in your office, scribbling on your whiteboard and poring over spreadsheets to plan for next year, try something more freeing: Go on a vision quest to get clear on business objectives and create an action plan for 2015.
Free yourself from the anchor of technology.
For your vision quest, dedicate a few days (either alone or with a business partner) to spend in an isolated, yet creative location that will free you from your normal duties. Somewhere without wi-fi, like an Airbnb tree house, will help you break the chains between you and all the digital distractions like emails, notifications, text messages, tweets, etc. All of these things will only hamper your ability to think openly, and to explore all the obscure places your thoughts may lead you.
One recent study conducted by a University of California, Irvine professor found that the typical worker only gets 11 continuous minutes of work before being interrupted. No wonder it's difficult to get anything done while in the office. Eliminate the possibility of being interrupted or distracted, and you will be amazed at how efficiently your mind can problem solve.
Follow a simple agenda to guide your vision quest.
Before you take off on your retreat, create a short agenda of three to five high-level objectives for what you want to accomplish during your vision quest. The objectives should be broad enough to allow you to explore solutions, yet specific to a business goal. For example, one of your objectives may be to "develop a new service that adds 20 percent to top line revenue."
Work through your agenda with the goal of tackling one to two objectives each day through some creative brainstorming. Ask yourself, or your business partner, pointed and deep-diving questions to get to the bottom of what you really want for your business. Questions such as, "What do you wish we could do better?" or "What is really keeping us from achieving x?" are completely valid for this conversation. Play with different ideas, and follow your thoughts wherever they may lead.
Remember, you are designing the future of your business. Shed any insecurities and self-doubt that you may be harboring, and welcome any and all ideas without judgment. A vision quest is all about discovery and exploration, so allow yourself to wander. You won't get very far if you put your thoughts on a leash. Make sure to create space between sessions, go on walks and keep the intensity low. Don't lock yourself in a room making whiteboard art.
Collect your ideas and create an action plan
On the last day, take stock of your best ideas and summarize them into a one-page document. Include a few action items to hit the ground running in January. This is your roadmap for making changes in your business, a reflection of your vision for how your company will evolve. Keep it accessible so that you can review it regularly to ensure you are moving in the right direction.
As you begin to implement your new vision, your business will likely begin to flex and bend to the path you have set. You will find that some ideas from your vision quest fit better within your business and culture than others do. That's okay. Your plan should set you on the path towards achieving your goals in the new year, but it doesn't mean that the plan cannot or will not change as you implement, learn and grow. The important part is that you have a vision of where you want to be in the future and continue to move toward it.
A vision quest can help you rid yourself of distractions and get clear on your path for the new year. Give it a shot! The worst that can happen is that you get a really unforgettable, peaceful vacation from the office to pull your thoughts together and think about what's next.