How do we know what’s round the corner when we’re driving somewhere?
We look in front of us, through the windshield, at the road ahead.
The road behind us, reflected in the rear view mirror, isn’t going to add much to our journey now.
So, why is it that so much of what we do in work resembles driving by looking in a rear view mirror?
Take budgets, for example.
In many businesses these are set at the start of the year. We assume levels of sales and costs and work out what we think will come in that year.
Perhaps we set targets that are higher than we can achieve – as “stretch goals”, with the idea that this might motivate us and drive us to accomplish more.
Then, we tend to forget about them. Perhaps someone looks at them once a month and sends out an update.
Or, take the business of losing weight.
If we’ve put on a couple of stone and decide at the start of the year it’s going to come off – then we’re essentially setting a budget for weight loss.
Perhaps we then check our weight every once in a while and see where we are – and then it all gets a little too de-motivating and we switch off.
Many entrepreneurs seem to have a different approach – both to money and weight loss.
Instead of thinking up a magic number and then looking back each month to see how they are doing when compared to that number, they look forward.
They pick a target – for example the amount of money they need to bring in each week to break even and then watch how they are building up to that number every week.
This is a subtle but important difference.
They don’t ask themselves, “How did I do last month compared to budget”.
They ask, “How far off am I this week from target?”.
They know that if they build up to their target every day, every week, then as the weeks turn into a year, they will arrive at their destination ahead of any budget they might set.
In addition, if they are having trouble getting to the target, they can do something – they can change tactics, commit to doing the basic things they need to better or set a more realistic target.
There are no penalties – just deal with the facts in front of you.
Like driving, if a tractor pulls into the road ahead of you, then you can slow down or change direction.
You can only do this if you are looking forward, not back.