taking care of business

after all these weeks of concentrating on family, i needed to find a way to focus back on work again. i remembered the creative planning tool that my friend and ex co-worker haedy used with me a number of times, and let me tell you, i had a lot of fun.

creative planning is all about generating creative ideas, analyzing them, and then implementing them and finally communicating about them. sounds simple. and it is, if you intuitively grasp the concept. the most important part is to separate the creative and analytical stages because they can be at odds with each other. and to have lots of yellow stickies and markers. yes, those yellow stickies are the trick.

so this is what we did – we, that’s my assistant alex and i.

first we warmed up. of course, me being me, i had to immediately deviate from the recipe and came up with the idea of brainstorming around a question that is usually answered with a “yes” or “no” – which is a total no-no. but i figured, one of the most important rules of the first stages of creative planning is to suspend judgment – why then judge the idea of a yes/no question?

so we brainstormed for three minutes to the question of “which direction is home?” which we found in a book of poetry by ajmer rode, the handiest book nearby (david, are you reading this?). the only rule was that we couldn’t give a “yes” or “no” answer. one of the answers was, “i’ve heard of this notion of ‘home’. sounds interesting. tell me more!”

we then proceeded to the main part. we looked at four aspects of my work/business and created the categories of assets, goals, and challenges. we brainstormed for three minutes on each category. that’s hard work – we could almost hear our brains fizzing! half-way through, we needed a break.

once we were through with that, we went through a few rounds of prioritizing. among other things, we used the markers and each made a dot beside what we thought were the two or three best ideas in each column; and at some point i wrote a distilled list of goals down on my computer, using a tried-and-true prioritization system that i’ve adapted from richard nelson bolles’s priotization grid.

we finally came up with seven main goals. number 1 was to “have lots of time to do the things i want to do” (and yes, nancy, i managed to squeeze at least one financial goal in there :).

a very illuminating step afterwards (another one where i deviated quite a bit from the original creative planning process) was when i asked alex to take whatever assets she felt would help us achieve each goal. boy, were here ideas ever different from mine! finding out why she thought a particular asset would be helpful in achieving a certain goal was very eye opening. that’s what i love about brainstorming – you get to have a completely new perspective on something!

one example of that was the goal to “always have fun”. she connected this to the asset of “good knowledge about blogging.” wha … ? “well,” she explained, “you like blogging, and you like learning and knowing things, so obviously this helps you have fun.” of course she’s right. i just would have never made the connection.

in the end, we came up with 22 things to concentrate on (let’s call them … goal getters), about three for each goal. for the next 22 business days, then, i will take one goal getter at a time and see where that takes me.

if you want to follow my progress, watch me on twitter or 43things. i guess that’s the “communication” part of creative planning. give me feedback, cheer me on, hold me accountable, critique me – hey, let’s make this a village project!

(oooh, this is scary. putting myself out there like this. well, i always encourage people to do that so i guess i gotta take my own medicine!)

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

other posts related to goal setting:
wheel of life: the rounder, the better
from solving problems to creating results: 5 benefits
make it worth your while
new year’s resolutions – a basket case
goal setting
therapy, goal setting, yearnings and expectations

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