A Guide to Creating the Work and Life You Want: What’s BIG and IMPORTANT?

Published on June 30, 2011 by Anne Raymond

In this fast-paced world we live in, it’s sometime easy to lose sight of the direction that we’re headed. Our heads are down focused on getting results and we don’t look up, even occasionally, to see the bigger picture. Or it scares us because we have no answers to some of those bigger longer term questions!

I totally get it, because that used to me! When my manager used to ask me what my 5-year plan was, she used to get a blank “deer-in-the-headlight” kind-of-look and a corresponding vague corporate answer of where I thought I wanted to go……accelerate in my career, reach the next level, etc. But frankly, I really had no idea what a 5-year plan looked like and wasn’t even sure if I was working at the right company let alone the right job.

Big And ImportantI’ve since discovered a step-by-step approach to set a direction that not only benefits you but also your company, and allows the flexibility to be open to the opportunities that present themselves (and that you create!!). It allows you to figure out the things that you love to do and where you can create a natural success path where you are your most creative, innovative, and successful!!!

One step along the way is answering the question” What’s BIG and IMPORTANT to me?”.
Think of this majestic picture of the Annapurna Mountains in Nepal that I took when I was trekking there. It’s something that inspires me every day to think BIG! It also represents a very IMPORTANT trip that was life-changing for me!

What is the impact of this “BIG and IMPORTANT” question for you? It helps reflect about what are the biggest and most important things to you which will help prioritize everything in your work and life. It helps set a compass of where you’re going so that priorities are clearer and decisions are easier. It starts to design a future that you can be passionate and inspired about that will draw you forward! You’ll start to think about how to design and plan your work and life to fit you, instead of just letting it happen!

So here's what to do!

Step 1: Planning and Preparation
Set aside 2 hours in the next 2 weeks in your calendar (I had one client spend a whole weekend doing this exercise!). Plan for an UNinterrupted and completely UNplugged environment! Like a coffee shop or your back porch.

Step 2: Brainstorming
Take a blank piece of paper and write the question down with a timeframe?
“What is BIG and IMPORTANT to me this summer/in the next 12 months/next 2-5 years/next 5-10 years?”
Spend the time writing notes, doodling, mindmapping, or journaling. Don’t judge your answers, just write them.
Relax, sip coffee! Keep asking the question (out loud is better or whisper it if you’re in a coffee shop) and keep writing for the first 90 minutes.
(HINT: If you ASK yourself a question, it's amazing how your BRAIN will focus on it! )

Step 3: Reflection and Action
Time for some reflection. Review your answers and look for themes, patterns, connections.
Write down 3 things that you learned you would like to focus on in the time frame that you picked.
Write down 3 actions (Big Bold ones) that you’d like to take in the next two weeks.
Give yourself a pat on the back!

You can try this out with different time frames to see what happens. It’s amazing what is already in our minds just waiting to come out when we slow down (even just a little) to find out!