Sometimes I get asked what my business goals are. People assume I have a monetary goal or a goal to expand my services, hire a certain number of employees, get a new office, etc. I don’t have any of these goals. I don’t even have a goal for my business to survive another year (if people do not think that the services I offer are outstanding, I do not want to waste my time and energy trying to sell them – I will use my skillset to do something else!)
My goal this year (for my business and for myself, personally) is to focus on my internal vision rather than any external outcomes. Put another way, my goal is to not have any external, outcome-based goals and to not desire any specific outcomes, at all – but rather, to be open to whatever happens. This involves a lot of reflection and meditation (I am aiming to have brief periods of reflection in the morning and at night) and purposeful breaks from work. It also requires me to step back and look at everything from a bit of a distance rather than up close.
Focusing on specific external outcomes, I have found, is something I need to step back from. I also used to say “Oh I hope this happens!” Then I’d focus on achieving some outcome (that was at least mostly or somewhat out of my control). That a job would work out. That a health problem would get better. That a person would notice me. That my students would succeed in law school or on the bar exam.
For example, when I worked as a lawyer as my primary source of income, I’d always say, “I hope work becomes less stressful…I hope the judge/opposing counsel/client is more reasonable next time… I hope I get a raise.” I got none of the things I desired. And it ended up being great. As one thing after another added up, I decided to quit my job to work on my business full time and it was a fantastic decision for me. I never would have done that if I got the outcomes that I thought I wanted. I would have just continued to skate by, doing something that I was decent at (and liked) but didn’t derive a ton of purpose from.
I relearned this same lesson last year, my first year of my business. I had a really good (half-million dollar) offer last February from one particularly wealthy business. I was really looking forward to it and hoping it would work out. However, after a serious of unfortunate events, nothing came of it. I didn’t make one dime from it. I was really disappointed and sulked about it and complained for a full week before getting over it. However, again, it ended up being good (in fact, great) for me in the long run. Because it didn’t work out, I met 20 or so new, wonderful bar exam students. I didn’t make 1/2 million dollars, but I did make over twice the amount I expected to make over the year. I expanded my business, made a lot of valuable connections, and hired three new lovely employees. I didn’t foresee any of this happening and it wouldn’t have happened had the business opportunity I wanted so badly worked out.
Time after time, I am grateful when things don’t work out the way I think I want them too. The above situations make me realize that I don’t know exactly what “outcome” I want. So why focus on external outcomes?
Instead of focusing on any specific outcome or goal for my business, I instead aim to focus on being the best person (and business person) that I can be. I want to create products and offer services that students find extremely useful. I want to do what I can to help pre-law students, law students, and bar exam students accomplish their dreams and visions, whatever those may be. I want to try to see potential and beauty in everyone and every circumstance. I want to accept – and learn to embrace – whatever happens. I want to detach from outcomes. Stop complaining when something doesn’t work out the way I think I want it to. Step back. Focus on the good in every situation. And focus on an internal vision (within my control) rather than any external outcome (not within my control).
I don’t think that goals are bad. I don’t even think having some external goals or aims are bad. I just think that I as a person, and as a business owner, can benefit from stepping back from external goals this upcoming year.
(P.S. Lessons #1-5 that I learned as an entrepreneur can be found in this blog post.)
Ashley Heidemann scored over a 180 on the Michigan Bar Exam in February of 2011. She, as well as a team of tutors offer private one-on-one tutoring for bar exam students nationwide as well as nationwide as well as Michigan bar exam courses and seminars. For more information about her Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) or Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) tutoring services, please click here. Please click here to contact her company, with any questions or concerns.