Like everyone else, entrepreneurs often use the new year as an opportunity to take stock, set resolutions, and create a vision of what they'd like the next year to look like.
If, however, you're finding it a bit difficult to create a vision and set goals for 2014 that truly excite you, you may be facing one of a couple of unique challenges that seldom get talked about in goal-setting conversations because they only afflict a small subset of the most successful individuals. These often unacknowledged conditions are overwhelm and boredom.
Overwhelmed by opportunity
Sometimes it's difficult to get a clear read on what you'd like to do next because there are so many things you could do. Vision can actually be paralysing when you've got too much of it without the ability to filter. For those whose success has brought them lots of new opportunities, it can be challenging to determine which ones are worth acting on and, even among those, which to do first.
An abundance of talents can actually exacerbate this feeling. The issue for many of the exceptionally gifted is that, while they can do anything, they find it very hard do just one thing. Even geniuses find it very hard to get traction when their attention is scattered across multiple projects and goals without a clearly defined central goal or overriding vision. And yet, they are reluctant to kill off any possibilities because they can see what they could become.
The boredom plateau
The second surprisingly common challenge among people at the top of their game is boredom. I've met many very successful entrepreneurs who have fallen prey to this as an unforeseen byproduct of their achievement. Typically, this is someone who's doing really well by anyone's standards, but who's not a "lifestyle entrepreneur." He or she is what we call an "achievement entrepreneur," meaning that the trappings of success aren't the motivation - growth is. So when the business is doing well, ticking along without requiring a lot of new creative input, it can be a nice place to rest and celebrate for a while, but eventually, boredom sets in. What's the next big thing? Will it ever come? Spending too long in this place can bring on the creeping fear that maybe nothing will ever feel exciting or engaging again, and the risk-taking muscles begin to atrophy.
Let your past direct your future
Though we're talking about vision and the future here, most of the raw material you'll need to resolve either of these situations - overwhelm or boredom - is in your past. If you recognised a bit of yourself in either of the descriptions above, I'll ask you to think back over your experiences up until now in terms of three things - Passion, Hero, and Multiplier:
Passion: What do you really love to do and do extraordinarily well? You would do this for free, and if you did it for the rest of your life, you would be constantly motivated, fascinated, and improving.
Hero: Who do you really want to be a hero to? What group of people would you most like to work with and help over the next 25 years?
Multiplier: Which of your capabilities, situations, and relationships have the possibility of growing, not just incrementally, but exponentially? Big games are much more motivating and attractive for everyone.
Imagine that all of your experiences so far are Stage 1 of your life and career, and now you're creating Stage 2. What belongs in Stage 2? I encourage you to use 25 years as your horizon, so you have some time to create something really big and exciting (including the version of you that's going to be here 25 years from now making this all happen). Your filters are Passion, Hero, and Multiplier - identify the opportunities that satisfy all three and forget about all the others. They're just "stuff."
With these three filters as a guide, you can begin to construct a vision for 2014 as the beginning of a permanently exciting, engaging, and focused 25-year future.