Thinking Ahead: Navigating By The Signs Of the Times

29 November 2013, by A. Cedilla

You probably know what certain law enforcement acronyms mean from being exposed to popular TV procedural shows like CSI and NCIS, and maybe Bones. Words like BOLO ( Be on the look-out for) and APB (all points bulletin). These words get tossed out when the protagonists are alerted and on the hunt for someone.

In navigating your business through industry changes, consumer demand and market forces, what are the things that you look out for to stay relevant, and how do you recognize them? What are the things you look out for?

The answer depends on your business and on you, you personally. For all the talk of hitting the numbers, getting the ‘likes’, using the latest software, cultivating good press, a business still need the human element to work. Computers can’t make intuitive leaps. Laptops and smartphones don’t buy things on their own, or schedule something in (or out) of calendars, or go value-pricing all by their lonesome. People do that. And the answer is different for each person, so these questions will get wildly divergent results, because we’re not cookie-cutter clones.

When you take a moment to assess the situation, what are the steps you take? What factors do you take into consideration? You look at the groups you belong to. Work, play, business, family….there’s a happy, messy Venn diagram waiting to happen there.

What about assessing the probable situation two weeks ahead? A month? How about in quarters, and in a year? How far ahead do you look? What’s your time-line?

Serious planning is a whole-brain activity that asks uncomfortable questions. It’s much easier to give a quick look around and say, “Well, I’m still here, no need to rock the boat right now.” Or resign yourself to grinding through the days and collapsing on the weekends — when you’ve got the time. Maybe you’re thinking that you’re doing okay but there’s this nagging feeling that won’t let you rest, or let you be.

Life isn’t static…it’s how we grow. We can’t do that if things remains exactly the same. That’s how people build their lives, they move from one stage to another.

Are you satisfied with what you’ve got? When you look back on a typical day for you and extend it into the future, how will you answer the question, “Is this what I want for myself?” If you’re not growing, you’re stagnating, even if it feels pretty safe for the foreseeable future.

People tend to forget just how much of a difference they can create in their own lives because they get used to seeing things a certain way, and themselves a certain way.

What do you want your life to say?
Artists have their art, writers have their writing, and so on. As a business owner, don’t go on thinking it’s all about dollars and cents.Making a living and using entrepreneurship towards your livelihood is as much as a craft as any act of human creation. It’s just too easy to let your livelihood take over your life. What you need is to reconnect consistently with different perspectives, enough so you can fully live your talents and say at the ends that you’re more than okay with what your life is trying to say.

There are a few things to consider:

  • Where you are when you look (vantage point, may also apply to the stage in life that you’re occupying, ex. mid-life, or point you’re trying to envision, ex. retirement).
  • What are you looking at (the point or points of focus, doesn’t have to be restricted to just work. After all, you’re not only a worker or a business-owner).
  • What are you looking for (vision, which can cover a few medium-ish scenarios–not just One Big Picture).

Look now

  • What do you have in terms of assets and liabilities, we-sources and help (nourishing relationships and community) rest and recharge activities, etc.
  • Which ones do you need to really stay on point – and how will you make that happen without straining the system?
  • How do you encourage the system to be more robust itself?

Look back

  • What went awry this year? What went well? What went even better than you’d expected, or hoped for?
  • What contributed to it? What did you do afterward?
  • What contributed to the stability you have now? The uncertainty and unstable parts? How much of that is reasonable and how much is due to stress-induced anxiety?

Look ahead

  • What do you reasonably, logistically expect to happen without interruption in the next few weeks? The next quarter? In the next year? Bills, weekends, tax season, job searches, side-jobs, etc.

Look inside

  • In the daily grind we lose sight of our own gifts, our particular talents. Bring those back out. You work it out so you are where you want to be and need to be in the aspects of the relationships that really matter to you.


Rapid changes are putting major stress on peoples lives — not only do we have to worry about staying current and keeping fresh, we also have to consider what this means for us in the long run — you wouldn’t want to claw your way up the ladder only to find it was leaning against the wrong wall, man. Health, money, meaning, family, career, security — it’s a big, mashed-up ball of Stuff You Have To Think About. What are you making from that stuff? What’s your end-game?

Answering that question asks you to be more precise, and perceptive. You can’t live on the surface and expect to make something of deep value. You have to dig in. You maybe planning some changes in your life for next year. You wouldn’t be doing that if you didn’t see the need to. But don’t forget what those changes are for.

Going back to the center, it will be about you–and your life, and what you want to build in it, from it, and with it. You are the common denominator. So you have to dig deep and cut to the bone this time, to see what really matters and protect it, to see what needs to be done to take care of it — and do that. Take some time off to sit down, dig deep, and think ahead.

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