North star

Knowing where you’d like to go is important. It helps us frame the decisions we make now that move us towards where we want to be.

In our book, Learning To Launch, we described how we strike the balance between the long term and short term:

Have long term goals in mind, and short term goals in focus.

This means knowing where you’re trying to go and having that as a constant reference point in the back of your mind. A North Star that you use to guide you on the journey.

For Mike and I, that North Star is freedom. Freedom from the 9-5. Freedom from selling our time. Free to choose how to spend it.

With the commitments we have, after doing some napkin maths, we’ve worked out we roughly need to be taking in £100k a year. We’ll likely be selling in dollars, so in reality that will be roughly $120k/year, or $10k MRR.

That feels a long way off. We’ve launched a few different things in the past, and one of those is making a small amount of money, but we don’t have an easy pathway on how we’re going to get from here to there. There are so many unknowns, we’d never be able to predict the path we will take.

But that’s ok. Despite that, we’ve taken our best guess at breaking down the big goal into smaller, more attainable goals. Instead of trying to get to financial freedom now, we’re focussed on simply finding a problem that interests us, that we’d like to spend a few months finding out more about and attempting to solve.

That’s not to say any problem that we’d like to solve will do. There are other checks that have to be met, which fall under the broad heading of “how well placed are we to solve this?”. We’re not attempting to solve world hunger just yet.

The challenge with a goal so seemingly unattainable as financial freedom is that it can cripple us from moving forwards. If we focus too heavily on “will this idea ever earn $10k a month?” then we may never take that step and launch a product that can make us $100 a month.

It’s important to strike the right balance. Some pressure is healthy. A little pressure can help bring clarity to what matters, but too much can stop us dead in our tracks. We need a pressure valve that we can tweak to keep us motivated without feeling overwhelmed.

For us, having that smaller, more attainable “find a problem that we’re interested in solving” goal helps lower the pressure. We can chip away at this and see progress take shape.

As we attempt to move towards our goal, progress will never be linear. There will be times when we make great progress, and times when we feel we’re taking two steps forward and three steps back. This up and down journey leads to great highs and low lows, which is why we have to view progress over a greater period of time.

Have I made progress this past six months? This year, 2016, did I move towards where I want to be, or have I stagnated? Am I on the right path, or do I need to make a change?

This year, as we look back, we’ve not made the progress we’d hoped to. I’m just being honest. We’ve made some, we’re in a better place now than we were twelve months ago, but we’ve wasted too much time going round in circles, stuck in analysis paralysis. We’re attempting to learn from that now and not make that same mistake again in 2017.

As you look back over this year, take time to consider the highs and lows, and take time to think about whether where you want to go has changed, or whether you’ve lost track of your North Star. Recalibrate yourself to live 2017 with intentionality. Set a big ambitious goal and break it down into smaller attainable steps on the journey.

Our plans never stay fully static, they always evolve and change as we move towards them, as they should. But having that North Star to look up to when the times are tough is important, else we wander, round and round, moving, but never actually getting anywhere.


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