When I’m drawing up a business plan, I try not to overcomplicate it. If it can’t fit on the back of an envelope, it isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. One of the most useful things I do is to draw up two columns, with the positives on one side and the negatives on the other. It’s very simplified, but it works.
Richard Branson on Moskito writing notes
I think this can be useful in all sorts of ways, not just business decisions. Occasionally I will talk to friends who are dealing with some sort of issue in their lives. I encourage them to make their own very simple life plan.
You can do this by drawing up two columns. On the left, write down all of the things that are going well for you in life, that you truly enjoy, find purpose and get satisfaction from. Then in the other column, write down all the things that are bothering you, or that you dislike about your current situation. From this template, find somebody you can talk to and help find a more positive way forward.
It’s really surprising how year after year can go by almost without us noticing, and we don’t set aside the time to sit back and think about whether there’s a better path to take. By drawing up this simple life plan, you can sometimes find problems you didn’t know existed, and solutions that had remained hidden.
I had one friend who felt they were in the wrong line of work, and thought their job was “boring”. But when they drew up their plan, they realised that other factors were negatively affecting their work. After thinking long and hard about it, they realised that their work was, at its core, about working with and helping other people. Now they are fit, healthy and looking after themselves, they are getting a lot of pleasure from it. Alternatively, for another person, it could be they need a complete break from their job and should go off and do something completely different.
We need to all give ourselves the time to think about what we want from life for ourselves. I’m no advocate for long, arduous self-improvement forms. Keep it simple, stupid – but don’t ignore or neglect your own wellbeing. If you’re honest with yourself, you can learn a lot. Good luck, and let me know how you get on.