Friday, January 6, 2012

Action Is Magic

I follow a number of small business and productivity blogs to continue learning as I develop and run my little business in the best way that I can. At this time of year, they are full of advice for how to set goals for the coming year.

I'm noticing a trend in the advice lately: live goal-free. The idea is that you will be more productive and magically end up where you want to be without setting goals. Maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't get this at all. Overall business goals help me to define individual projects and their own goals. Last year, the overall goal to build a lucrative business helped me to set other goals: acquire yarn, create cloth, build a "good-enough" booth, upgrade the booth, find better shows, etc. Without defining these goals, I wouldn't have known how to prioritize my work to create more opportunity for myself. I wouldn't have known to strike up conversations with quality vendors at every show and ask them where *they* think I should sell and how I could improve my display, for instance.

It seems to me that a goal-less lifestyle is a luxury afforded to people who have an established business and can "coast" for a while just doing what has been working. If you have other ideas about this, I'd love to hear them.

At the other end of the spectrum is over-analysis, thinking so hard about every decision that the work never gets done. Yeah, every decision involves the skewing of the risk-benefit equation to favor benefit and reduce risk. Notice that I don't say "maximizing benefit" and "minimizing risk". Keeping the extremes in mind for every decision can quickly lead to insanity:
"What if there's a way to make more money?"
"Maybe bold colors won't sell this year, maybe I should provide mostly neutrals."
"What if 2012 really is the end of the world. I'll have so much yarn left over!"

It's natural and normal to have these thoughts. And then I need to get over them, make the best decisions that I can and DO SOMETHING. Action is magic. The more consistently I am actively pursuing my goals, the more likely that I will get somewhere. And there are enough tiny decisions that even if some of them don't move me in my chosen direction, the overall trajectory is likely to average out in my favor anyhow. Sure, it might take longer than the absolutely shortest path, but it's going to be faster than if I take up my time with thinking and do nothing for fear of making a bad decision.

And there it is. I must have goals in order to pursue them and then I have to just keep on working in whatever seems like the best direction to reach the goals. Tomorrow I'll write about what my goals are for the year. Today, I'm just saying that I have them and they inform my day-to-day actions, which are really the important part.

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