Everyone reading this article wants to do well this year.

So… what does “doing well” mean for you?

There are a near-infinite number of possible outcomes for your business this year. It isn’t just a matter of having a “good year” or a “bad year.” Your 2014 has the potential to turn out in an immeasurable number of ways.

In order to ensure that your 2014 ends up in a really good place, your first challenge is to explore the question, “What could be?” in 2014. By exploring the possibilities for this year, you will identify the outcomes you most want. After that, you will be able to articulate the direction you need to take to get there.

“What could be?” is one of the most important questions you can ask. This question makes it possible to discover potential successes and realize an ideal future.

No self-judgment

It’s often hard to explore this question because we are cautious about declaring wildly optimistic future outcomes, as if we will be graded poorly for missing our target. We also reflexively focus on current obstacles that stand in the way of these future outcomes.

Resist your instinct to think this way. At this point, you have the right to dream up an amazing 2014 without any fear of failure or any concern for obstacles in your way. Exploring “What could be?” is an exercise in possibility, not in feasibility. (Feasibility comes later.)

Create your “picture of success” –
Bring the future forward

To explore “What could be?” imagine it is January 1st, 2015, a year from now. You and a work colleague are reflecting on 2014, discussing what an amazing year it was. Write the story of that conversation, highlighting the incredible, wonderful things that happened in 2014.

Write this story with detail and, as your write it, explore interesting avenues and ideas. For example, if you plan to introduce a new product or service this year, describe the wildest possible success for that product. Who bought it? How much did they buy? How much did they love it?

Or if you plan to expand into a new geographic region this year, describe the story of your success in that area. How well were you received? Who bought from you? And how much did they buy? 

And remember: no self-judgment. Imagine anything is possible. You can lower your expectations later, but for now your exploration will reveal ideas and goals you haven’t previously considered.

Don’t limit yourself to thinking only about this coming year. One of the best ways to find your direction for 2014 is to imagine a time farther in the future and explore “What could be?” For example, imagine it is January of 2018, four years from now. By exploring possibilities this far in the future, you will uncover dreams that you didn’t know you had.

Work backwards from the future

Once you write the story of your future success, exploring “What could be?” you can work backwards, dialing the clock back to today, where you can identify the best current actions that will make this successful future possible.

Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up someplace else.” How profound! When you explore “What could be?” you will determine where you are going, and then you’ll be able to figure out how to get there.

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