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Balancing The 'Should' With The Could'

planning Feb 18, 2021

It was a tidy end to a messy year.

Liz and I had spent a day (in person!) working through a mountain of ideas-in-waiting, delayed projects, dizzying Corona-pivots and ambitions for the year ahead. Phew!

What at times had felt slightly overwhelming magically came together in a clear plan of action. Priorities were set. Timelines mapped out. Roles allocated. Pull down the shutters, people, we can take a break safe in the knowledge we’ll be coming back to a clear plan of action. Shazam.

Fast forward to 2021. [Insert montage of summer holidays]

The List was there, patiently waiting for us. It was familiar, clear, tidy and ready to go. It was even on Trello.

But there was something wrong with it. It felt… uninspired. It felt like it was full of things that were ‘smart’, but there was a disconnect between what my heart knew we could be doing as we began a new year.

Suddenly, it hit me.

This List had been raised on a diet of should, but it was missing a good dose of could.

We had focused on all the stuff we each felt the business needed... The stuff that a business like mine should be doing.

Don’t get me wrong – the shoulds are useful. For example, the shoulds drive me to listen to the advice of mentors, colleagues and advisors, and think about how I might apply that in the context of my own business.

But if you listen too much to the shoulds, you start to run your business out of obligation and a need to ’keep up’ with some invisible gold standard. In so doing, I think you miss out on the stuff that comes from instinct and your own sense of purpose and possibility. The stuff that really connects to your own heart.

Which is where the coulds come in. What’s the stuff we could be doing this year? Not because we ought to, or because it’s ‘strategically smart’, but because we reckon it could be fun/challenging/daring/satisfying/interesting/valuable – to us and our clients?

Of course, not everything that comes from that question is going to make it onto your “let’s do it” list. But I reckon it will change the list.

I know it’s changed mine.

Most importantly, it’s got me thinking about 1 or 2 experiments to run – stuff to try out, see what happens.

And as a result, I’m feeling much more inspired by the year ahead.

So, how's your list looking? Have you got the right balance between the shoulds and the coulds?

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