Image credit: Jenny Dettrick | Getty Images via Entrepreneur
December 1, 2020
By Gabrielle Garrett — Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor — CEO of GG Media
This story was first published on Entrepreneur.com.
You've likely walked past your kitchen counter and seen near-rotten bananas and thought to yourself, Oh, I'll make a smoothie tomorrow with those. Then the next day you see the same bananas and think, Guess it's time to make banana bread! On the third day, the bananas are collecting flies, and there's not a smoothie or banana bread in sight.
We do this exact same thing in our businesses, often without even noticing.
We set mile-high goals, to-do lists for days and have ideas that constantly sit at the back of our minds. I think of it like this: When you first think of an idea, it's green like an un-ripe banana. It's natural for an idea to mature for a few days — and ripen like a banana. But after awhile, if you don't act upon those ideas, they begin to rot and take up mental and physical space.
If we don't throw out the ideas that never came to be — or the rotten bananas — our business will start to attract flies, rot and slow down.
Your business might have old bananas like unfinished courses, unpaid invoices and unwritten articles. I call these unclosed loops, but for the purpose of this article, we will continue to call them rotten bananas. Let's clean them up before we enter into the new year.
Identifying your old bananas
Ask yourself these four questions:
- How many unfinished projects do you currently have floating around? Of these projects, would you rate them a somewhat-rotten smoothie banana or a nearly unusable banana bread banana?
- Of these projects, which ones give you energy, and which ones are weighing you down? If you're not sure, imagine you didn't have to do one, and see how you feel. If you feel free, it might be OK to sell this idea to someone else or to send it to the graveyard. If you feel passionate, it's time to add time to the calendar to act on it.
- How many unpaid invoices do you have out for your business? Of these invoices, how past due are they? Smoothie or banana bread? Block time to address these today.
- How many other unclosed loops are floating around? Contractors to hire, websites to upgrade, office space to purchase, YouTube channel to start? Take about 10 minutes to rate each in order of importance and how long you've been sitting on the idea. Then get some time on your schedule with your team to finish these actions so they don't drag you down.
When that's done, give yourself some credit. Taking some of these items out to the trash is creating serious mental space and room for new (non-fly-like) clients to head your way.
Related: My Year of Discipline and Determination: How I Read 52 Books, Ran 520 KM, Completed 4 Courses and Started a New Business in 2020
Make a vow to the countertops
Before we move forward, let's make a vow to eat the bananas when they're ripe or give them away moving forward. Entrepreneurs are flooded with ideas daily, and some of them are right for us and should be acted on right away, while others are great ideas but not right for the moment. A mentor of mine had a mantra: "Good idea; stay on plan." It might be wise to hire a coach or an office manager who can keep you on track when these ideas pop up to see if they're worth adjusting the plan or if you need to stay on course.
Moving forward for 2021
Now, take a look at your list and decide which items you'll actually move forward with and which items you'll toss. Make the smoothie and the banana bread. You'll want to come up with a detailed plan — including some outsourcing ― to complete these items now. I would suggest one project per quarter and tossing all the other ideas into 2022 land for now.
You'll be amazed at how free you feel having chosen two to four big projects to actually focus on and complete next year. For example, next year I plan to launch an author mastermind, run a publishing firm and create journals and content. That's it! Ahhhh.
Related: Discipline Is What Leads to Success
Chopping up your bananas
Now for our final step, let's chop up our banana for the rest of 2020. Yes, I'm serious about this metaphor.
You get three slices to dump into your business cereal bowl. Pick the three most important things that will move your business forward by January 1, 2021. No. 1 should be something relatively vital, no. 2 should trail close behind and no. 3 should be something that can be completed in 2021 if necessary.
My three slices include:
1. Processes for operations
2. Finishing my manifestation journal and mini course
3. Launching my my author mastermind in February 2021
When you're determining your three goals, think about who you'll need to become to move them forward. You will likely automatically become more responsible, more leadership-driven and be more patient as you eliminate the need for hundreds of micro goals. Resistance is natural here, but this process is essential to help your progress speed up — even if it requires slowing down for the moment.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to make a smoothie.
Related: Entrepreneurs Need to Train Like Elite Athletes, According to a Former Pro Badminton Player
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.