Some readers may remember Dory the fish in Finding Nemo (and may be frightened to hear the film is over 15 years old!). As well as being slightly ditzy, her strength was in her cheerful persistence in the face of adversity, hence her catch-phrase “Just keep swimming”. Over the years, I have known many business owners who have had to remind themselves of that maxim from time to time.
As I was pulling together my thoughts for this blog (yes, I do actually think them through!), and the theme of keeping swimming was coming to the fore, a friend in the business world, Mike Foster, posted on LinkedIn reference to an analogy based on Snakes and Ladders. In life, as in the board game, we encounter events which takes us backwards and opportunities which propel us forward. Whatever these random ups and downs, what gets you to the goal (such as the top of the Snakes and Ladders board) is the repeated act of rolling the dice. Some may get there faster and others will travel more slowly, but consistent, repeated action, combined with a bit of luck, will get you there.
Recently I wrote about the importance of knowing your purpose – what the point of any undertaking is. Once you know that big picture, you can contextualise any action in the light of that purpose or aim.
As I near the end of my working career, I can see how I have had snakes and ladders in various parts of my life, but because I have been persistent in rolling the dice or, like Dory, I have just kept swimming, I am in touching distance of the bigger goal.
Let us assume that you were moved by my recent blog to consider your own purpose or point in life (either overall, or at this specific juncture). Once armed with that knowledge, how do you move toward that goal? Here’s a simple four-step process:
Goal Clearly define where you are headed. You may not know the exact route, but at least be clear on the destination. It may be one large life goal or a number of smaller goals that add up to your desired ideal life.
Plan Knowing where you are now, and where you are heading to, come up with a plan that will start to take you there. Again, you may not know the exact route, or every step, but at least have a plan for starting to put things in place.
Action Good things only come to those who wait in Guinness adverts. For the rest of us, we have to take action to move towards our goals. In my experience, these are often small steps that just need repeating regularly. Which brings me to:
Repeat Einstein said that compounding was the eighth wonder of the world, and he was a clever guy. After over 20 years of saving and investing, of building businesses and planning my future life, I’m inclined to agree with him. If you know the actions that are part of your plan to get to your goal, and they work, you need to keep doing them. Not for a week or a month, but for many months or years. Keep rolling the dice.
What’s your bigger goal?
How do you plan to reach it?
What action will you take to start the journey?
What will you put in place to make sure you keep doing those actions?
How will you just keep swimming?