For close to 9 years now, I've made a practice of regularly assessing my goals, both personal and business. After about 10 years into my career, I was finding myself getting caught up in a frenetic pace of daily/weekly to-do lists. To counter this, I started to get up much earlier in the morning at 5 a.m to journal, center myself and plan the day ahead. Once the kids arrived - we now have three under 9 - it also provided critical alone time. But more importantly, this is when I started taking stock of my broader life goals. It may sound intense but it doesn't have to be if done regularly.
I focus on the lifestyle that I want to achieve and general outcomes I'm aiming for. For example some of my desired outcomes are freedom to travel, diversity of work and clients, constant learning and growth, total mind and body fitness. I then look at my current day to day activities and see if they are aligned to those outcomes. Am I losing my way? If so, is it temporary? What needs to shift?
This exercise is also very beneficial in a business context. All businesses (private, public and not-for profit alike) typically have strategic plans which outline their vision and goals. However, like individuals, it's easy to lose sight of the progress towards those goals, get side tracked by competing priorities or forget to adjust to the pace of change either due to technology or other environmental factors.
The gap analysis is a useful exercise to periodically examine "the space" between your organization's current state and desired outcomes. Clearly outlining your "as is" situation can have a number of benefits:
- Create alignment - do we all agree on our current status? Do we agree on our challenges or have new ones emerged?
- Understand and be able to measure how far you are from the desired state. What steps, actions or initiatives will get us there?
- Identify the resources and time to bridge the gaps. Will it take 6 months or 6 years to get there? Can we do it with internal resources or do we need help?
- Identify new opportunities not previously known or visible at the outset.
The gap analysis also provides a framework and baseline from which to measure ongoing progress. Smaller businesses in particular can benefit greatly as it becomes easier to prioritize and address problems that may be affecting your target outcomes.
Both in business and in life, whether in a morning ritual or as a leadership team, it's only in knowing where we currently stand that we can assess the gap between where we are and where we want to be.
What about you? How do you assess your progress?