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Don’t Forget To Look Back – Not In Anger But To See How Far You’ve Come!


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If you’d rather read the transcript it’s here below.


Don’t forget to look back — Not in anger (like Oasis) but to see how far you’ve come.

(I’m sorry for making you think of Oasis, I hope you can get it of your head, “Don’t look back in anger, I heard you say”, that one.)

You’re running your business, you likely have been for a while. If you’re anything like me, you spent quite a lot of time thinking about the business you’re trying to build and grow. That’s how you think about what you need to do next, and that’s how you keep yourself focused on making sure you do those things that you’re doing.

Looking forward for your trades  business

How can you head towards your goal if you haven’t got your goal in mind? You won’t. The science is clear. A lot of my teaching about strategy and having a vision of where you want to go is very clear. You need to know where you want to go, and you need to think about it so you can head there and so you can think about what needs to happen on the way.

And of course, you probably know I’m a business coach for tradies, and you probably know that one of the first things we do is think about where we want to go. We draw a picture of what business you want to build in the future, and we make a plan of how we’re going to get from where we are today to that beautiful thing that you want. So we’re very forward-looking all the time.

We spend a lot of time looking forward, thinking about what to do next. We think about what you need to do next and I leave you alone to do it while I help you do it or I help you find resources to help you do it. But apart from that, we make a plan for how we’re going to get you there and I spend a lot of my time with you thinking about what you need to be doing and helping you do it.

Negative effect of looking forward

This ‘future-focus’, like I’ve said is great, and it’s necessary if you want to be the person who gets things done, and if you want to move towards your goal. But it can have a negative pernicious effect as well.

When the going gets a bit tough and your goal that’s so motivating at first seems impossibly distant, it doesn’t motivate you like it needs to, and it can make the going even tougher. When you’re doing something difficult, or something didn’t really go to plan properly, or something came out of the blue and gave you a smack in the face, then that distant goal isn’t helping you much.

Much of the psychology in the literature and some of those smug f*ckers on Facebook who are already successful, much of what they talk about is breaking goals down so that you’ve got a goal 3 years away, (that’s your $5 million) but this year you goal’s a $1M which means that this month your goal’s $80,000. All this is about breaking your goals down. And that’s all valid, and it has the effect on your brain of giving you an immediate reward when you have some small success. But it really only helps when you are making a bit of progress and sometimes in business, you don’t make any progress for a while.

Recommended Reading: Small Changes, Accumulated, Make A Big Difference To Your Profit

Looking back will help you feel better

You get stuck or you get smashed by something, or something happens and then you feel like you’re stuck with no goals, and looking forward will help you feel better and it’ll help you get motivated again. And sometimes what we find ourselves doing in business coaching is having a pause, and looking back, and reflecting on how far we’ve come.

We usually have come the distance, made some progress, and improved the situation.

We look at the:

  • Strategy
  • Ticking off things that we’ve achieved and things that we’ve made better
  • Revenue and see if that’s increased
  • Gross margins and see if they’re better
  • Net profits every month and see if they’re better.

If I can plot a graph of monthly revenue, gross profit, and net profit, and see if the lines are going up, we can see that we’re making that progress.

I ask people to think about how much money is around and if cash flow feels a bit better.

I get people to think about how many hours a week they’re working, whether they feel a bit less under pressure to work. I ask people to think about how stressed they feel and whether they feel any better.

I’m looking back and thinking about how far you’ve come. It’s really helpful. It’s particularly helpful when it’s a bit hard.

So let’s be honest. If you have an ambitious goal like I do, there’ll be times when it feels like it’s not really working and you wonder if you should give it up. Usually, you shouldn’t and it’s just because you feel bad. So a tool like looking back and seeing how far you’ve come and realizing that you’re on a journey is really helpful in terms of your motivation. It’s really helpful in terms of renewing your determination to keep pushing through that difficult bit.

Don’t compare your success with others

It’s worse, (isn’t it?) if you look around on social media and you see how much better everyone else seems to be doing, I certainly get that. There seem to be a million business coaches out there making loads more money than me, driving Ferraris, traveling around the world, having lovely holidays.

It’s important that I do this to myself and look back and see how I was a couple of years ago and where I am now and realised I’ve made progress and things are better. I’m not worrying too much about what those other guys are doing.

So in my experience, it helps an awful lot to do that progress check. If I’m your coach, that’s precisely what we’ll do from time to time.

If you’re not working with me, do what I’ve suggested:

  • Make a plan
  • Write it down
  • Tick things off
  • Pause and look at your books and look at how much money you were making a year ago or two years ago

Think about how hard you’re working. Of course, if you’d like to do it faster, or if you’d like to put some structure into how are you growing your business, then get in touch with me and I’ll see if I can help you.

You can book a 10-minute chat and if we like each other from there, book a full hour before you have to decide whether you buy any coaching.

See you later and don’t look back in anger!

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About the Author

Jon Dale

Jon likes helping business owners and especially owners of trades businesses. Life can be a bit frustrating when you run a business and a trade business can be even more so. Jon reckons this stuff is fixable and that you can fix it by making some fairly simple changes to the way you do things. In fact, he runs a free monthly webinar to help explain the process further of moving your business from manual to scalable.

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