At one of my mastermind groups, Beth, an active member and a solo entrepreneur, shared how a change in her long-term professional goals convinced her to discontinue both her email newsletter and plans to create a paid course.

From an outsider’s point of view, it looks like she’s given up; that much of her time, money, and energy have gone to waste.

From my perspective, she’s taken a step closer to achieving those goals. I couldn’t be happier for her.

Quitting vs. Shifting

I’m not an advocate for serial quitters nor am I saying giving up is okay.

There is a fine line between quitting in chaos and shifting in clarity.

The underlying key point is being clear about your vision and committing to realizing that vision, even if it means hacking off what isn’t serving you anymore.

For Beth, she needed to make those important decisions to achieve her professional goals.

Whether it’s a product that isn’t generating sales or a project that’s constantly out of scope, your vision and purpose are what grounds you, brings clarity into the mental workspace, and helps you determine your next course of action.

Use this three-letter word to realign yourself with your vision

How do you know if a product, feature request, project, or idea fits into your vision? How do you know if you should pause development, discontinue a product line, or shut down a project all together?

We seldom have immediate answers, but they tend to reveal themselves when you ask this singular question:

Why?

We’ve known this three-letter word since childhood, yet its relevance becomes more significant in our lives as leaders and decision-makers.

Asking yourself “why?” forces you to give your original vision or purpose another hard look. It demands that you remember the core reasons why you embarked on this journey, and to see if this new addition to your workload will help you meet your goals.

Putting things into your specific context, you may ask yourself varying Why questions:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Why is this product/project/feature important to me and my company?
  • Why do I want to start/add/introduce this?

If you don’t have immediate answers or they aren’t aligning themselves with your vision and purpose, it may be time to put the idea in the back-burner or completely hack it off.

Rather than seeing it as a waste of time and effort, think of it as shifting your focus to what’s more effective or important to you.

Ready to implement the concept? Jump to the end of the post to download a 5-minute exercise (PDF). If you still need to chisel out your idea, read on to find out how to clarify your ideas further.

Three ways to wipe out the fog in your mind

Sometimes, we’re so deep in the thought process and locked into our vision and ideas that we become shrouded in thick fog and lose valuable insight.

Here are three useful and easy ways to wipe out the fog in your mind and further test your ideas before making your next big decision:

1. Bounce off the idea with your team or advisors. Schedule a meeting where you’d introduce the idea and ask for thoughts and feedback. Note down the questions, issues, and risks that arise from the conversation.

2. Ask your users. If you’re about the make a decision about a feature or product, your users are one of (if not the) best sources of information to help you. Send an email out to your fans and invite them to be beta testers where they can try the new feature or product and share their insights with you.

3. Observe the members of your industry. For example, you want to invest in a blog for your company or product. You know how heavy this project is going to be, so you want to start right. Look to other brands similar to yours and see how they are managing their blogs and what types of content are actually engaging their audiences.

The Why Filter: A 5-minute exercise

Set aside 5-10 minutes right now to answer a Why question. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing what I am doing today?” Tweak the Why question to match it to your current situation, whether that’s creating a new product, starting a new project, or introducing a new feature.

Use this downloadable PDF as a guide to help you identify if a new idea is worth pursuing or if you need to make an important decision about your business.

Download: thewhyfilter.pdf

Finally, share your insights and discoveries in the comments. We may be able to bounce off ideas with you to help you realize your next course of action.

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