Mark Richardson: Where do you want to go next?

Passages are an inevitable part of life and business whether we choose them or not.

May 30, 2012

We all go through passages in life. Some are very natural, such as childhood into adulthood. Some are by design, such as working toward retirement. Other passages are determined by others or the environment.

Passages are an inevitable part of life and business whether we choose them or not. We all tend to think about these transitions, but do we spend enough time controlling, preparing and planning for them?

I know this sounds a little like a TV commercial for a financial planning firm or AARP but I am sure for many it is very real and something you think about especially as you reach certain stages in life. In earlier generations this journey felt more predictable, structured or outlined. Today, however, we tend to question this process more and with the level of uncertainty out there the planning cycles are much shorter.

An important question is if “retirement” is the next step that you want? Because the image or paradigm is so strong it may be time to have a real shift and look at the subject through a different lens.

I was discussing this subject with a friend of mine and he gave me a new phrase that has shed a very different light on the issue: “rewire vs. retire.” When he said this, it really was a moment of truth. By simply changing the language you look at the subject differently.

Rewiring implies building off what you already have. Rewiring suggests continuing to be active and useful. Rewiring is about being better and rejuvenated. By using this metaphor you become energized rather than depressed and confused. So how will you rewire in the future?

As you begin to frame this subject a little differently the following notions may help:

1) Look down the road

Ask yourself “Can I see myself doing what I am doing now five to 10 years from now?” By knowing this you will have the conviction to focus on creating a sketch of what the next passage will be. Don’t feel you need to abandon what you are doing; just have a better idea of where you might want to go.

2) Find someone to fire you

It is hard to move forward unless you have others to do what you are doing now. A commitment to this not only helps push you into this new place but also keeps great team members.

While this might sound a little disconcerting, it is key to your growth. Who will fire you? If you do not have that person in place, you need to find or develop them. It could take years and many hours of care and feeding to get them there.

3) Invest time

Begin to make weekly appointments with yourself to focus on these passages. Begin to stretch the long-term muscles again and dream about the future in a more meaningful way. This investment will pay off like many other good long-term investments you have made in your business and family.

Begin with blocking out one hour a week of quiet time to take inventory of these passages. Do a personal SWOT (strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats) analysis. This should lead to starting some simple action steps such as planting seeds for that future direction. The more you are keenly aware of where you are heading, the more effective you will be in getting there.

In closing, as you reflect on those you admire in past and present generations, think about how they have navigated these passages and transitions. They may have appeared to be lucky. From my experience this luck is more a product of design then just being in the right place at the right time. If you can make where you are heading as much of a priority as where you are, then you too can see some amazing results. PR

Mark Richardson, CR, is co-chairman of Case Design Remodeling and the Case Institute of Remodeling. He is a member of the NAHB Remodeling Hall of Fame and a Fellow at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Richardson is the author of the best-selling book, “How Fit is Your Business,” and a forthcoming book, “Business Themes to Live By,” to be published this year.

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