At some point, you were asked what you wanted to be when you grew up. Your answers varied as a child, but they were genuine and untainted by outside factors. But you matured, succumbed to those outside pressures, and now find yourself in a career you just like — or maybe even hate.
Many of us live a programmed life dictated by others rather than one that’s true to ourselves and our dreams. For example, everyone wants financial freedom, which provides the power to choose and create.
So let’s say that level of flexibility requires $100 million. But without an inheritance or a lottery win, we’re conditioned to think earning said freedom requires too much time, effort, and personal sacrifice.
Thinking success comes at a steep price constricts aspiration before it starts. By remaining goal-oriented and career-driven, you can easily have the future you want.
Conjure up some of that youthful exuberance for the courage to pursue those entrepreneurial objectives you’ve set your eyes on.
An essential question to finding purpose is this: Are your actions getting you where you want to go?
That’s where a life audit becomes key. It’s a balance sheet where you live in the present and ask yourself where you want to go from here.
For example, for more than five years, I wanted to write a book. But I ran into some roadblocks. I forgot what I’d written, scrapped my outline, and even outsourced it to a ghostwriter. Taking stock of all of that helped spark the change needed to get things moving.
The process started when I connected with a friend who also expressed interest in writing a book. We collaborated on the project’s progression and tore up old notions to craft new visions. We continued gathering ideas, read other work to learn about different approaches, and chatted with authors. Finally, we hired a consultant to keep us on track toward our goal.
The same logic applies to entrepreneurship. Be it a business, a rebrand, or a product launch, it’s easy to get stuck on one idea, one avenue, or one snag, especially if you’re young and attached to your vision.
Consider the life audit steps below to categorize and map out the necessary steps to guide your entrepreneurial ambition:
1. Find Financial Balance.
Approach wealth with purpose, and use your financial statement as a scorecard for tracking wins and losses. You don’t need an accounting degree to understand your balance sheet and build wealth.
Prioritize horizontal income. The foundation of your financial success, it allows you to forecast the income of purchased assets such as employees, benefits, or company stock options. Business leaders have to bring in as much capital as they dole out.
An entrepreneur’s goal is to stream income from multiple sources. Think of your finances as an equation: gross income – taxes – all essential expenses – entertainment expenses = discretionary income. Use the result of this equation to invest in the people, places, and things that make your business go.
2. Budget to Create Income.
Be purposeful with each dollar, and know where it goes. Investments are intended for future income generators, so replace the “net” or “savings” column with a “left over to invest” column.
Funding a new direction isn’t free. Entrepreneurs should make sure funds are allocated as needed and that whatever is in that leftover fund goes toward your end goal.
3. Create a Dream Board.
No dream board is the same. Creating one acts as a strong visual reminder of the future you’re working toward.
Do you have a specific amount you’d like to hit for your year-end earnings? Are you currently targeting a specific number of employees to hire to keep up with company growth? Put those goals on the board.
Entrepreneurs are accountable to employees. A dream board holds an entrepreneur accountable to himself, and the new track he wants to travel on.
4. Build a 5-Year Vision.
Entrepreneurs should visualize a result and create a business objective to work toward. Write a detailed summary of where you’d like you or your company to be in five years, and make that someday goal a mission statement.
Decide where you’d like your company’s net worth to be. Do you have plans for expansion, either product or otherwise? Use your dream board for inspiration when crafting this vision. That’s what it’s there for.
Entrepreneurs should have an idea of where they’re going. Programs are designed with a specific purpose in mind. Entrepreneurs should think of reprogramming that same way.
Your future is in your hands. Where are you now, and how do you see that future materializing? If you’re not happy with where you’ve landed, it is never too late to redirect your path to success.
David Osborn is an entrepreneur, public speaker, and author. He is the principal owner of Keller Williams, the 19th-largest real estate company in the U.S., which grossed more than $5.2 billion in sales in 2015.