Why you’ll never do it later and how to get it done it now

Procrastination is defined as “the action of delaying or postponing something”.

This could be a deadline at work, doing the big food shop or just going to bed on time. We all have something in our lives we regularly put off.

People often blame procrastination and our struggle to stay on task in the digital age. But did you know people have procrastinated since the dawn of time? Cicero the philosopher said, “Slowness and procrastination are detestable in the conduct of most affairs”.

So procrastination is as old as the hills. It’s also not good for our mental health. In 1997, Dianne Tice and Roy Baumeister studied the correlation between students academic performance and their general health. Students who procrastinated had lower grades and higher stress levels than other students. In 2007 psychologist Piers Steele’s review showed procrastinators performed worse in academia. They were also unhappy and put off important economic decisions.

So if procrastinating is bad for us and an ancient phenomenon, why haven’t we cracked it?

One answer lies in how procrastination effects us. Procrastinators struggle with self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is “a person’s belief that they can be successful when carrying out a particular task”. When we doubt our ability to do things successfully, our self-esteem suffers. When you doubt your ability to deliver your product successfully, you put off making your website. If you’re uncertain about how to approach a new client, you delay sending that cold e-mail.

When we doubt our self-efficacy we become afraid to step outside of our comfort zone and we stop taking action. We procrastinate.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you will need to step outside your comfort zone. From the moment you start your entrepreneurial journey you will face challenging tasks every day that you won’t be able to procrastinate about. For the good of your business, you’ll need to get it done.

The good news is when we recognise why we procrastinate we can treat it differently. We can recognise that procrastinating is a signal that we are afraid to leave our comfort zone.

If we can manage our fear of leaving our comfort zone, we can stop procrastinating and start getting stuff done.

With this in mind, I’ll leave you with a practical tool to manage your fear of stepping out of your comfort zone.

Exercise: Throw The Ball Out

Stepping out of your comfort zone can be like getting into a swimming pool on a hot day. You know it will be great when you do it but you don’t want to experience the shock of the cold water. This exercise is about becoming the person in the pool who have braved the water and is enjoying the benefits.

You will need:

• A piece of paper to make into a ball
• A Pen
• Something to journal in or write on.

How it works

• Screw up a piece of paper into a ball.

• Stand on one side of the room and think about something you would like to get done. This could be a project, an idea for a business or a lingering decision.

• Throw the ball across the room.

• Now walk across to the ball.

• Standing where the paper ball has landed transports you. You become “Future You”. “Future You” has successfully moved through the challenge “Present You” is facing.

• Take a moment to stand in this space. What would “Future You,” say to “Present You” about their current situation? What could one thing do or change to gain momentum? Take time to journal any inspiration that comes to you.

• Do not censor what comes to you, write down anything: single words or colours or memories.

Why it works

Physically moving to find new ideas and inspiration engages our embodied cognition. Embodied cognition is the phenomenon of our body “learning” from movement. This goes beyond our normal conscious processing. Research shows movement helps us tap into more ideas and inspiration. A study at Singapore Management University asked participants to debate a topic using the phrase “on the one hand… on the other”. The students who moved their hands to emphasise their points came up with more ideas than the students who had to remain still.

In Throw The Ball Out, physically moving forward helps us to mentally step out of our comfort zone. This helps us to contextualise the fear that’s holding us back. Once we’ve identified that fear it’s much easier to move past it and to stop procrastinating.

Interview: Maya and Helen from FFeatured in 15

Last month, during StartUP  Brixton, we met two female founders from South London, Maya and Helen. They founded Featured in 15,  a community project in Forest Hill. We asked them a couple of questions about their experience as founders.

What are your fears in business?

Helen: I think the fear is that we’re at a stage in our project where it’s getting bigger, and it’s how we manage that. So we are trying to learn from others how to contain it and not grow too fast, at a speed that you can’t control?.

Maya: Which is a good problem to have!

What do you think we can do to help entrepreneurs in Lambeth?

Helen: I think by really upscaling the chance of partnerships and networking because you are so much stronger together than you are, you know, on your own. And I think that because we represent a community project where we run in it together definitely has a huge benefit.

Maya: I think it’s really hard sometimes to know how to access that help. And that is a real struggle when you’re starting out. It is like, ‘Where do you go?’ ‘Where do you turn to for help support and that kind of mentoring that will help you succeed’. Because, you know, you do need that you need the help from people who’ve been there and done it as well.

What do you think will help you most when taking the next step?

Maya: I think just the confidence of, of knowing that there is support out there that you can turn to, to help you be successful and that there are people you know, cheering for you in the background. That’s always that’s always helpful when those moments of doubt and fear come into it. Also, it’s good when you’ve created a network which I think events like StartUP Brixton helps you with.

Helen: I think that be rested in the fact that, just because it seems hard, that’s how it should be. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. So, you know, yes, you are going to work hard, you’re not going to sleep as effectively as you used to be. But you’ll find new creative ways that really do bring a lot of joy, rather than commuting to London Bridge every day.

Why have you come to StartUP Brixton today?

Maya: We heard about what was happening today, and thought it would be an amazing opportunity to come down and sort of see what new things we could learn.

Helen: And also, you know, being inspired by new entrepreneurs!

Maya: We’ve come mainly to network, to learn more about what we can do to make our business successful.

To check the video version of this article visit our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/Fgapi7xbE-4

How to Market Yourself on Social Media without Overwhelm & Headaches

With over 2.1 billion accounts on Facebook today and over 0.8 million users on Instagram, it seems like the world has never been more connected. We use social media to exchange messages, have our voice be heard, find and join events, and even donate to charities. But when it comes to using social media as promotional tools for our business, it seems to get difficult. How do we motivate people to do the same thing that we do without favourite brands, but for our business? And how do we know we’re taking the right action and not just wasting our time?

I often say that social media marketing is like going to the gym. You must commit 100%, you need to do it at least 4 times a week to see results, and take measurements along the way to see if you’re improving (i.e. if what you’re doing is working or not working). It requires consistency, practice, and patience. And many people won’t like to hear this, but it requires long-term effort rather than a flood of action taken in one day, and then none for two months.

I have some good news, though. If you ever accomplished anything in your life, then you probably know that once you get better at it, you will start to like it. And social media marketing isn’t any different.

Why You Need a Social Media Strategy

You need a strategy. Drawing back to our fitness example, imagine that one day you get an idea to “gain muscle”, but you have no idea how. However, you start going to the gym, and you do some work. There are some results — you look a little bit more toned, after all, but because you don’t measure anything, you have no clue what worked and what didn’t, and how much you gained in what time.

Social media marketing is no different and that’s why you need a strategy. I hear so many people saying that they want more followers. They start taking certain actions but they have no idea how much action they took over what period of time. Quoting Peter Drucker: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” So you’d better start measuring.

Before You Start

There are a few things you need to think about prior to creating a social media strategy. First, consider your audience a.k.a. your potential clients or customers. Who are the people you’re speaking to? What is their current situation, what’s their feared situation and is their desired situation? You will need to know these to communicate your message to them accurately through different types of media (copy, image/photo, video). What are the platforms they like to hang around?

When it comes to platforms, it’s better to be realistic and stick to fewer than more. With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat, it seems like a never-ending battle to feed these “content machines”. Quite often, this is what becomes very overwhelming – if you want to publish just one image per day on one platform, that will be 365 per year. Can you, realistically, create that many, and for multiple platforms? Usually, if you’re new to social media marketing and/or just starting out, the good rule of thumb is sticking to no more than 2. For most companies and brands those will be; Facebook and Instagram but obviously, the choice depends on your audience and goals.

Setting the Right Goals

It’s important to set a goal because, without a goal, you don’t know where you’re going. But even more important to goals is to set the right goals. Your goals should always be attainable, relevant and time-bound. So when people tell me that they want to create conversions through social media within the first month and earn £2,000 yet they have 5 Instagram followers, I frown a little bit, at least in most cases (see why below in Resources). I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but speaking from my experience as I’ve worked with over a hundred clients, there is a certain order to acquiring goals.

The order of how you should focus your goals are:

1. Building a follower base – only with at least 1,000-1,500 followers you will begin to see some interest in your business that will translate to some engagement and a few sales

2. Improving engagement – your engagement could be translated as retention and brand advocacy a.k.a. how “warmed up” your followers are

3. Create conversions – once you have enough followers who are “warmed up” already (the two prerequisites for conversions), you will begin to see people converting with a bigger predictability

Now, the question is how fast can I acquire these goals?

Resources a.k.a. How Fast You Get Your Goals

Your resources are people (how skilled they are, how much experience they have), time, and budget/money (for ads, training, collaborations, giveaways). Usually, the more you have of each, the faster you can get to your goal. Let’s say your goal is to acquire your first 1,000 followers. If you have a team of three people who work full time and have a budget of £1,000 for ads, it’s easy to see that they will likely get those followers faster than if you do it alone for two days a week with no budget at all, isn’t it?

That’s why your resources are one of the stepping stones to how fast you acquire your goals. Unfortunately, today it’s much more difficult to reach goals with any budget at all due to Facebook’s and Instagram’s algorithms, but it shouldn’t be something that should stop you. The nutrition brand Free Soul Sistas went from 700 followers to 10,000 in the course of 6 months, only promoting their products. And of course, in the meantime, their startup, which is targeting millennial women, started to make a return on investment.

Measuring Success (and Fails)

When you think of traditional marketing – newspapers, radio, TV – it’s quite obvious for many people how and what they can measure. When it comes to social media marketing, everyone thinks it’s difficult.

If you had an ad in a magazine, what you could measure was how many times that ad was seen (depending on the number of copies of the magazine that went to print), how much was the graphics, copy, and placement of the ad, and how many people bought the product after seeing it. This isn’t any different in social media marketing. First, you need to correlate business key performance indicators (KPIs) to social KPIs. For example:

Business KPIs – Social KPIs

* Brand awareness – Impressions, reach

* Retention, brand advocacy – Engagement (likes, comments, shares, clicks)

* Conversions – Website clicks, Profile views, conversions

Usually, the most difficult part is to quantify how many people bought from you when they clicked the ad because in most cases you can’t correlate them to an existing customer in your CRM. But if social media marketing is the only thing you’re doing or at least the biggest chunk of your marketing efforts, then you can easily say what your return on investment is (ROI).

The key to social media marketing is implementing all these steps. Only once practised together, you will begin to see results. But don’t fret if you don’t have it all figured out already. Take things, step by step, and measure once a month and you’ll see quickly if you’re going in the right direction.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Social Enterprise Series: Social Media

Does your business have a coherent social media strategy, or are you throwing random updates to the wind when you can?

In our digital age, social media is crucial for your business. It is a platform for: creating your brand/identity, setting yourself as an industry expert, sharing your impact, building partnerships, engaging with your audience/customers and driving sales.

 

In our Social Enterprise Incubator Series, we follow 15 incredible social entrepreneurs who are leading the road to change with our Incubator Programme.

Get a glimpse into their challenges, developments and lightbulb moments as the cohort shares their experience over the 6 month programme! In this post we learn about the struggles Joe encountered with social media and the tips he learned to build a proper strategy.  

 

Brake the Cycle is a social enterprise that organises cycle trips around the UK and mainland Europe, staying at organic farms, sustainability centres and ecological initiatives. For us, social media is one of our main tools for interacting with, and marketing to, our potential customers, keeping our extended network up to date and building lasting relationships with those who have been on our tours already. Finding the right tone, knowing the right amount of content to generate to make sure we keep in people’s minds but don’t become spammy, and knowing which of the many social platforms to use, are just a few of the issues we’ve faced. So having a session on it with Hatch was well anticipated and proved incredibly valuable.

In the workshop, Neila took us through the whole process, showing how to build and develop a strategy, which is what had been missing somewhat for us. We’d been like magpies attracted to different tools and tactics we’d read about on blogs rather than developing a coherent strategy and plugging the tools into that. One thing that really resonated with us was her empathise on it being ‘social’ media rather than thinking of it as sales and marketing per se. So keeping the tone affable and really speaking directly to your ideal customer, tailoring the tone to fit them. Her rule was a 70/20/10 split, 70% being high value interesting content for your customers, 20% sharing other pages posts that are relevant to yours and only a small 10% being on marketing your products through CTA (call to action). Of that 70%, she also stressed the importance of sharing your social enterprise’s impact, a key factor that will draw customers to your business. Something else that really resonated with us was finding more UGT (user generated content), so on our most recent tour we encouraged participants to @ us or use a specific #hashtag when sharing their pictures on Instagram which has resulted in lots of quality photos, capturing a variety of stories and aspects of our tours.

In future we’ll be looking at ways to incentivise our participants to engage with this more whilst on tour as part of a larger, well defined social media strategy.

 

Watch this space as we share more posts by the incredible changemakers on our Incubator programme! 

Interested in joining one of Brake the Cycle’s sustainable cycle trips? Check out their next Coast to Coast trip: an Immersive, Sustainable Cycle Journey from England’s Northwest to Northeast Coast.

Social Enterprise Incubator Series: Sales

In our Social Enterprise Incubator Series, we follow 15 incredible social entrepreneurs who are leading the road to change with our Incubator Programme.

Get a glimpse into their challenges, developments and lightbulb moments as the cohort shares their experience over the 6 month programme!

 

“I want you to sell this chair to me.” My heart sunk when I heard these words as the thought of trying to persuade someone to part with their money (even when it’s just pretend) freaks me out. Not ideal when you’re a business owner! The chair selling scenario was one of the role-play exercises sales expert Gerald Vanderpuye used to demonstrate the ways we tend to approach sales. We go in for the big hard sell talking about the features of a product and why the customer should like it.

Thankfully, this session taught us that there is another way. Gerald highlighted the importance of really getting to know our potential customers. We can do this by reaching out to them and remembering to talk less and listen more, ask questions to learn about their lives and find out about past behaviours that are relevant to our product. When we do this we can figure out if a person really cares about the problem we’re trying to solve and know whether to pursue further conversations from a sales perspective.

The next challenge is to find out where our potential customers are so that we can have these conversations in the first place. My life coaching business is aimed at people who are seeking more joy and creative flow in their lives and want to feel more fulfilled in their work and relationships. This sales session has tested me to think about where these people are hanging out, what media they are accessing and where they are online – the next step is to start to be seen in these spaces too.

 

Watch this space as we share more posts by the incredible changemakers on our Incubator programme! 

Social Enterprise Incubator Series: Business Model Canvas

The Social Business Model Canvas can be a social entrepreneur’s guiding light. It helps to break down the different elements of your business and keep you heading in the direction of your vision and impact.

In our Social Enterprise Incubator Series, we follow 15 incredible social entrepreneurs who are leading the road to change with our Incubator Programme.

Get a glimpse into their challenges, developments and lightbulb moments as the cohort shares their experience over the 6 month programme! Below, Angela shares her process of navigating the social business model canvas.

 

Since the first time I was shown a Social Business Model Canvas (SBMC) it looked like a daunting task.

To be honest, I was so challenged the first time, I was thinking of all the different ways I could ignore it. But I knew eventually I had to face it. The first time I tried to complete the BMC for Mental Health: TheArts (MHTA) it was a fail, though the second time was a bit easier- after watching a couple of videos and other examples of a SBMC. I think it’s sometimes hard to put your vision or dream on just one sheet of paper, but it’s needed when you need to show others how your social enterprise works.

When I did the SBMC workshop with Hatch Incubator, I knew it would be easier and I would be able to complete it, because I was already familiar with the terminology and what each section meant. This workshop allowed me to simplify MHTA and focus on my business model. It visually allowed me to see the different parts of my business that would ensure that I have a sustainable model. The most challenging section of the SBMC for me was the Revenue Streams. I know with time I will able to cost my service according to its value with more confidence.

As a result of this workshop, MHTA is no longer just a dream in my head but it has a sustainable business model and through the BMC workshop I have been able to plan and implement different elements which will ensure MHTA has a long-lasting impact.

 

Watch this space as we share more posts by the incredible change-makers on our Incubator programme! 

Social Enterprise Incubator Series: Impact Measurement

It is so crucial for social enterprises to effectively measure and communicate their impact, and to do so, a lot of thought needs to be put into what is being evaluated and how. For this very reason, it can seem like a big beast. We worked with the entrepreneurs to try to tame it in our impact measurement workshop.

 

In our Social Enterprise Incubator Series, we follow 15 incredible social entrepreneurs who are leading the road to change with our Incubator Programme.

Get a glimpse into their challenges, developments and lightbulb moments as the cohort shares their experience over the 6 month programme!

Below, Joanna Rhodes, founder of Challenge 59, a project that aims to empower young people in psychosocial health through dance and film, shares her thoughts on the impact measurement session.

 

For many years I have held a deep sense of curiosity, as well as frustration about how we use impact measurement in the arts to evidence change, especially when working with impact for health:

  • Randomised Control Trials are looked on as the gold standard but is there room for case studies, anecdotal evidence and qualitative data? How robust can this be and with what rigour can it be carried out?
  • Short term outcomes are easier to capture than long term – Over time how do we know if a change has come about as a direct outcome of our intervention?
  • Quantititive data is considered more robust? However, I have issues with surveys for young people – what time of day did they fill it in, who did they sit next to when doing so? I have seen ‘trending’ answers go around forms – a bit like how the ‘Floss’ dance move is now trending in school playgrounds! What else happened to them that day that may have influenced their thoughts, and can questions be misinterpreted?

The Theory of Change was a really useful process. I finally realised that it was ok to just have assumptions and not already know the answers, and that the process is then about testing these!

It was good to get specific and concentrate on just one outcome (a priority) and not to get overwhelmed with the possibilities. I learnt that the rigour will be influenced by what is needed, desired and also what is practically possibly!

I have commissioned academics in evaluating Challenge 59. I am nervous about their findings and if my assumptions were right, but grateful that whatever we do find in this pilot (including the broader and unexpected outcomes) will help us to ‘pivot’ and ‘position’ ourselves for the future.

 

Watch this space as we share more posts by the incredible changemakers on our Incubator programme! 

15 new social entrepreneurs leading the road to change with our Incubator

Hatch’s Incubator for London-based change makers has officially kicked off!        

And with this, we’re excited to announce a new series that will follow their experiences over the next 4 months.

15 trailblazing entrepreneurs have embarked on a 4-month journey with Hatch. Their objective: growing their business sustainably while making an impact. They will not be alone in this adventure, as they will benefit from the tailored support of facilitators, consultants, mentors and a strong community of peers. Each entrepreneur in the cohort is committed to addressing a pressing challenge of our time, such as: youth unemployment in deprived communities, plastic waste, women empowerment, young people and mental health, eco-friendly tourism and diversity in the workplace, to name a few.

Having worked with over 300 entrepreneurs since 2014, we realised that social entrepreneurs face additional hurdles compared to traditional businesses, and need dedicated support, especially in the early and crucial years of their journey. Finding the right legal structure, sourcing financing, establishing a strong brand, measuring impact, balancing profit and purpose, all present a unique set of challenges.

While not without its challenges, combining a social or environmental purpose with a revenue-generating business is not an impossible mission…and we’re here to support the incredible change-makers who are achieving it!   

Taking the first steps into entrepreneurship can be daunting, even if a problem has been clearly identified and it is understood what is needed to solve it. Meet Yvonne and Ingrid, two of the amazing entrepreneurs on this Incubator, who have been working within the charity sector as social workers supporting children and families of prisoners for nearly ten years. They decided to set up a social enterprise to offer their training and consulting services independently. They knew their service was helpful and wanted to expand and innovate their offer without the constraints that come with being a charitable organisation. They have strong motivation for their mission, having witnessed the devastating effects that losing a parent to prison has on children. Although, social workers by background, they lack the necessary business knowledge, especially marketing, legal and financial expertise, and are confident Hatch will provide them with the right direction to launch their social enterprise.

Even once a social enterprise is set up, the route to growth is not always straightforward. One of the most established social enterprises in the group is Rising Stars Support, based in Tooting and run by Omari. The business was created in 2014 out of the desire to support young people from disadvantaged communities – mainly from South London boroughs- into training, education and employment. Omari and his team thought martial arts to be a good platform to actively engage with young people from hard to reach segments of the society, while providing coaching and support for self-development. And this thought proved right! Since starting in 2014, Rising Stars Support has engaged with over 1200 young people from BAME and low income backgrounds through mixed martial art classes and supported more than 80 of them into education or employment. They have joined Hatch as they aim to expand to all London boroughs, with the plan to become a national social enterprise in the future, and are aware that they need additional funding to grow their team, and strategic business support in order to scale their operations.

Our aim at Hatch is to help create and grow sustainable businesses that can make an impact and thrive. Our programmes include practical workshops, business consulting, mentoring, a final pitch day and networking events, all meant to carry entrepreneurs through idea to start-up to growth stage. We are honoured to support this group of great innovators that have spotted a societal problem and are bringing about new ideas and solutions to tackle it.

Watch this space to follow their journey as they progress through the Incubator!

 

Interested in joining one of our social enterprise courses? Apply today!

Ways to Bootstrap Your Way to Success vs. Applying for Investment

 

When starting a business, one of the first few things that many fledgling entrepreneurs do is find a potential investor. An entrepreneur presents their idea, and if an investor likes it, funding will be granted in exchange for an ownership stake in the company. While this may sound like a straightforward and viable option there are a few aspects that should be considered.

Applying for an investment

While getting an investor to support your company is good, a major drawback of it can be the stakes that are being asked for in return. A 20% equity may not sound like a big deal (after all, you still keep 80% of your company), but when you think about your operation on a bigger scale it can make a big difference. A backer who owns 20% of your company means that for a revenue of £10,000, you’d need to give to the investor £2,000. On top of that equity, you’d need to pay for your employees, the costs of running the business, delivery, imports, etc. So is a 20% stake of your company worth it? This will depend on whether your backer can help you enter different markets, expand your business, and help with the direction of your company. Often it’s what the investor can offer apart from their money that matters more.

One of the reasons why entrepreneurs get pressured into acquiring investments from backers is because of certain economic factors that affect revenue. For example, when inflation is high, the general public tends to lessen their spending. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) shows how inflation affects consumer trends, and entrepreneurs use it to base their future decisions on. FXCM’s economic calendar shows that the current CPI is clearly showing volatility in consumer trends in Europe. A high reading anticipates a bullish attitude from consumers, while a low reading is seen as bad for business. When the reading is negative, entrepreneurs often panic and sometimes seek investments in order to help weather the slump.

We know that finding investment isn’t usually the most important thing in business. There are five key elements to the success of a start up, which are listed according to their importance:

1. Timing
2. Team (execution)
3. Idea
4. Business model
5. Funding

Bootstrapping

Bootstrapping, in the context of business, is starting a venture with little to no money. This means starting a business without the support of venture capital firms. In layman’s term, it means turning over money that was earned from customer sales and putting it back into the business.

Bootstrapping may be the most realistic option for startups. The idea may sound impossible to do but it’s not. What do Braintree, AnswerLab, TechSmith, Envato, Campaign Monitor, and Litmus have in common? All of them bootstrapped their way to success.

Successful bootstrapped companies go through two stages: first they seed money. This is the stage where entrepreneurs either break the piggy bank in order to fund the business or seek money from friends and family. Funding may also come from the entrepreneur’s full-time job until enough capital has been raised for the business.

The second stage is about getting money from potential customers. Think about Kickstarter and GoFundMe websites where entrepreneurs ask for backing from interested customers. Growth may be slow in the second stage because the business has to keep its operating expenses steady.

Every time you accumulate funds from customers, you can launch your products/services and expand. Successful entrepreneurs keep doing this until they become more successful through every launch and expansion.

Bootstrapping may be a long and hard road in finding the funds for a business. However, it certainly lessens the risks of burying yourself with debt. Finding an investor for your company, on the other hand, will instantly give you access to monetary resources but the stakes that you need to give up in return may hinder your business’ growth. Remember to weigh up these options before making any major decisions for your startup.

[GUEST BLOG] Goal Setting

At our Hatch Social Club last week, Goal Practitioner Anne Burniston ran a workshop on Goal Setting. In this piece she explains the value of goal setting and how it has impacted her personal journey.

Here’s the thing about starting a business.  When you begin, it doesn’t exist.  At least, it doesn’t exist in the real world.  But it does exist in your imagination.  In your dreams.  You have a yearning, a need, an itch that needs to be scratched.  A wrong needs to be righted, a frustration needs to be gone, an ambition needs to be realised.

Your job, as an entrepreneur, is to take that dream and make it come true.  To create the vision you have in your mind, to build the future you hold so dear in your imagination.

It’s the thing that sets us apart from the animals.  The ability to dream a new future and make it happen.  We don’t just respond to our environment, we create it from the future we dream.

And that dream is important because it will lead to a better life.  For you, for others.  It will bring you more love, more satisfaction, more freedom, more money.  Whatever it is, you believe that bringing this vision into existence will bring you benefits.  And the drive to receive those benefits is what makes you act.

So it makes sense that the clearer your vision, the closer and more real it feels, smells, tastes, the easier it becomes to articulate it, to yourself and others.  And the more likely it is to come true.

The firmer you can hold your purpose, the deeper you understand it, the more driven you will be to make it happen.

And essentially, that’s what a goal is.  It’s a dream, with a deadline.  The deadline represents your commitment to bring it into reality.  Without that, it remains a dream.

The work I do helps with that process.  Goal Mapping is a technique that uses your whole brain to dream your goals, to imagine the future you want, to tap deep into your reason why you want it, and then helps you figure out what steps you need to take to make it happen.

Goal Mapping plants your vision firmly in your sub-conscious – your internal sat-nav.  From then on everything that you see is filtered by your goal.  So everything that happens is a possible way to help you move towards your goal, rather than something that is in the way.

I found Goal Mapping, or rather Goal Mapping found me just over 10 years ago.  I was at a particularly low point in my life, which can be summed up by saying I lived an outwardly successful corporate lifestyle, big house, sexy car, great income, yada yada, but I was slowly dying from a lack of meaning or purpose.  I was losing the will to get up in the morning.

Then through many twists and turns, I ended up in a hotel conference room in Austria with about 15 colleagues, listening to some guy telling me to draw my dreams on paper and commit to making them come true.

Well, 10 years on, I can’t actually remember what was on that first Goal Map I drew.  What I do remember is that I walked away from that meeting with something I hadn’t felt for a very long time – hope.  I still didn’t know what my goal was, I didn’t know what my life was about, but I did believe, for the first time, that I could find it.  And that was a powerful feeling.

Scoot on two years from that day, and I went home to my partner and told her I was about to be made redundant.  Which meant I would walk away with one month’s salary and no job to go to.  We sat on the sofa, held hands, and remembered our dreams we had dreamt on that sunny Austrian afternoon.   We allowed ourselves to feel the call of the mountains drawn in my partner’s map.  And in that moment we made a decision.  To go and pursue another life.

We had already found the house we wanted to live in.  It was in a tiny village on the edge of a large valley in the foothills of the Pyrenees.  We’d tried to move there once already.  We found it when we were on holiday.  We were sure.  So we came home, put the house on the market, drew an enormous project plan which we put up on our kitchen wall and off we set.

The week after we put the house on the market the financial crash happened.  The Estate Agent phoned me up to tell me that the value of my house had dropped by £100,000.  So we took the house off the market, I got a new job and we carried on.

One year later we looked up at the kitchen wall to see that we hadn’t completed a single action that was on our project plan.  So we took it down and forgot about our dreams.

This time, we decided to make it real.  We drew a goal map.  We drew what we wanted to happen, why we wanted it and what we were going to do about it.  And we put that on the wall.

Once we had committed to that map, everything changed.  We started talking about it differently – like it was happening, not like it was something that was going to happen in the unspecified and distant future.  The people we spoke to believed us which reinforced our own belief.  And because they believed us, they helped us.

We identified that we needed a shedload of cash.  We needed to find someone to rent our house in Brighton and we needed to arrange a mortgage for our new house in France.  We spoke to a colleague about it and she was looking for somewhere to move with her husband and baby.  So she rented our house.  Another colleague had just completed on a property in Spain and willingly handed over the details of her mortgage advisor.

Our families, initially dead set against us giving up on “Jobs for life” and heading off into the unknown, started showing more interest and even came to visit the place with us.  Our friends had encouraging conversations with us about France, and started looking at dates to come and visit us.

And somehow, the cash came.  Redundancies with technical errors and sympathetic Directors can result in unexpected outcomes and grateful beneficiaries.  Friends offered to invest in us because they believed in our story.  Family gave us somewhere to stay in between leaving our Brighton home and taking residence in our French one so we could save our cash.  Oh, and they gave us a car too.  And a rabbit hutch to transport the cats.

This April we celebrated our 7th year of living in Fosse.

That experience taught me to believe in the power of Goal Mapping.  So I became a practitioner.  I use it in my life and I help others use it in theirs.  The power in it changes depending upon what I need from it, but here’s what I’ve learned over the last 10 years.

Sometimes it’s about clarifying the goal, which may be something material, it may be an intention or it may be a soul contract.  Being focused on what you want allows you to see opportunity and bounce forward from external events, rather than falling at the first hurdle.

Other times it’s about the purpose: knowing why you want something and the benefits it will bring gives you the motivation to move.  It helps you find the energy to keep going when things get tough.

Sometimes it’s about the actions.  Knowing what you can do and who you can bring into your life to help you.  Seeing life as a series of opportunities waiting to happen rather than a list to be ticked off.

You see, it’s not really about the goal.  Being attached to the goal once we have set it can be damaging and potentially obsessional.  Because goals change.  As our lives change, so do our goals change.  And that’s ok.  What’s important is that we keep moving.  And going through the process of Goal Mapping helps us move.

And sometimes, all we need to do is move.

 

Our next Hatch Social Club will take place on January 25th.

Join our Meetup Group for more details.

The Goal Work: