Before I get started, I want this to be a positive message for you. That said, what prompted this topic was the passing, too young, of a few industry and personal friends. It got me thinking about what (if anything) they wished they had done, either personally or professionally. There’s no shortage of things to eat up our time; email, social media, family obligations, etc. Are you making time for the other things? Are you doing the things that give you the most pleasure, or that will have the greatest impact on your clients; which, hopefully, also gives you pleasure?

I’ve written before about how you have the time for anything you prioritize, so I’m not going to rehash that here. Rather, I want you to reflect on what those things are. What is it that you’ve been delaying? What is it that you daydream about, but never take any steps towards accomplishing? You can’t reach a target that you can’t see. Yes, the journey is as important as the destination, but the destination gives you focus.

Personal endeavors

What do you do when you’re not working? I know that some of you are laughing now, because you’re always working. Let me rephrase that. What would you like to be doing, if you weren’t working all the time? Is it reading more books or making quilts? Is it learning a new skill or doing martial arts? Is it learning a new language or volunteering more? Whether it’s a new skill, or one that has been gathering dust, what’s stopping you from doing more of that now?

You know what I was thinking?

My wife and I have a code phrase, “You know what I was thinking?” – which means that we’re taking a trip to Home Depot. She dreams up a project for our house, and I have to build, rework, fix, or create it. Some people call this the “Honey-Do” list, as in, “Honey, I need you to do this.” Some husbands dread this. I look forward to it, because I love working with my hands and I love fixing things. It gives me an excuse to dig into my tools and make some sawdust. Most of our projects aren’t fixing anything, rather they’re creating or re-doing something that’s perfectly fine. We just love the process and the end result.

The thing is, I need that, “You know what I was thinking?” to push me to get out the tools. Why? I love working with tools. So, why wouldn’t I just get out to the garage without the question? It’s just not a priority. My wife asking the question changes my priorities at that time. I could resist, but I’m happily married (cue the smiley face), and I want to stay that way.

Professional endeavors

What’s your next big move at work? What have you been thinking about, but you just haven’t gotten started? Have you been thinking about raising your rates? Have you thought about adding a new product or service? Have you thought about attending a conference or networking event, but it never makes it on to your calendar? Once again, it’s about priorities. In this digital world it’s easy to get disconnected from your network. Yes, we make relationships – and even sales – through email and other digital platforms; but deeper connections are made in person. We refer people we know, like, and trust (credit to Bob Burg – no relation – for that). People will know you, get to like you, and trust you, when you’ve had a more meaningful connection. Take that digital connection and strengthen it at a local networking event. Better yet, volunteer for that networking group, and show people that you’re a giver, not a taker. People are more likely to refer you through your actions, over your words.

Learning has never been easier

There’s no shortage of learning opportunities these days. Between classes, workshops, conferences and online content, improving or picking up a new skill is easy… once you prioritize it. I listen to audio books while I’m driving. Instead of listening to the news, or music, I’m “reading” a book. Some are directly related to my work and some are just interesting. What I love is when I’m reading a book that isn’t directly related to my work, but I get ideas that I can apply to my business – and to yours.

Getting new ideas when you least expect it

While I’ve done a lot of my learning by myself – learning Spanish and reading/listening to books – I love going to live events. It’s what happens in the hallway, at the meals, and at the bar, where I’ve gotten some of my best ideas, and where I’ve shared many ideas. Someone asks a question, and the others in the group benefit. Or, you hear something that someone else is doing, and you think about how you can apply that to your business. Or, you hear something that someone else is doing, and decide that it’s not right for your business.

You’ve got to be in it, to win it

The key is that you have to be there to benefit. That’s why it drives me crazy that the attendance at live events, whether local, regional, or national, isn’t higher. I prioritize my speaker training. I have the National Speakers Association conference dates blocked off years into the future. I usually don’t even look at the schedule until I’m on the plane to the conference. I know that I’m going to meet new people, learn new things, and come up with new ideas, regardless of who’s speaking. Don’t get me wrong, I will hear some great speakers. I trust the conference to ensure that; but, I also know that I’m going to learn as much – or more – in between sessions. Some of my strongest relationships, both in the speaking industry, as well as the wedding/events industry, got their start in between sessions at a conference.

Think back to the people you’ve met, the ideas you’ve gained, and the inspiration that was sparked at a live event; if you’ve never attended an industry event, then ask your friends. Return on investment (ROI) isn’t always about direct sales or dollars. It’s also about relationships and connections that can and will help you in many ways. Yes, sometimes it’s about getting referrals. Other times it’s about having someone you can call, or message, with a question; someone you can bounce ideas off. Just remember, be a giver, not a taker, and others will be more willing to give back to you.

Now what are you going to do? What small step can you take today that will get you closer to a personal or professional goal? What ideas are bouncing around in your head, but they never get out? It’s been said that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. If that is acceptable to you, then keep on keeping on. If not, then do something different, or take a new small step today. I look forward to seeing you at an industry event and hearing your success stories.

© 2018 AlanBerg.com & Wedding Business Solutions

Need help getting started? I’ve worked with companies like yours on setting, and moving forward towards your next step, and to new levels. Here’s what a couple have said after working with me:

Virtually all Alan’s suggestions are easily actionable. As a result, I have many items on my to do list, and although I’m still in the early implementation phase, I am excited about Alan’s suggestions and believe they will impact our bottom line in a very positive way.” – Steve Zimmet, Hot Picking’ 57s, Austin, TX

“I really, really like the feedback you have given me. Your direct style works well for me too. I have seen an increase in business and traffic in just ONE WEEK and I haven’t even touched the SEO stuff. I know I still have tweaks to do but the bulk of the changes are done.” – Susan Strauss Graves, Simply Personal, Dallas, TX

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