Advance Your Business And Your Career

by Tim D. Richardson - Date: 2007-01-22 - Word Count: 862 Share This!

Here is an idea that can revolutionize your business and your life. Many organizations have retreats but how many professionals do you know that take time to go off-site and do some thinking and strategic planning about their career and life? A new year brings resolutions for many that are often broken before the end of January. How about planning some meaningful time to go away all by yourself and put some focused effort into your career? This process is commonly called holding a retreat though I like to refer to it as an advance - after all you want to go forward.

Your thinking, concentration ability and focus will be enhanced when you can get away to an environment that is conducive to creative thinking and planning. Find a place where there are no ringing telephones, pending projects, or distractions of other kinds. To maximize your productivity, leave behind your beeper, turn off the ringer on your cell phone, and block out some time where you don't feel rushed by other commitments. If you completely clear your calendar and don't call in for messages, your productivity will be greatly improved. I read recently that Bill Gates even copied my idea! Except Bill does a whole week and calls it his "think week". He was quoted in USA Weekend:

Ours is a very fast-moving field. You have to be able to step back from it. Many years ago, I decided to take a week every year and absorb myself in thinking many years ahead. I get colleagues to put together what Ph.D. theses I should read, what products I should play with, what memos I should look at. So, it's been, except for sleeping a little bit, day and night all by myself uninterrupted.

If Bill Gates can do this, I would hope that most of us could find at least one day to spend in proactive thinking and planning. I did my first session on a beautiful remote beach in the panhandle of Florida. I spent some time working on the beach and some inside at the beach cottage I had rented. That one day advance resulted in more career growth and action than any other single thing I have done in my business. Since then, I've had a one or two-day session every year. I have done my advances in State Parks, at Bed and Breakfast Inns, on a camping trip, and in hotel rooms. Think of an environment that you enjoy and one that stimulates your creativity. You might try the mountains, a quiet park, at the beach or lakeside. Before you leave, give some thought as to what you want to accomplish on your planning retreat. Here are some things to consider when you advance:

Advance Forward
Set big picture goals
Develop major projects
Brainstorm new ideas and products
Plan educational opportunities to grow your career
Write or revise your personal mission (you might want to read or reread Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People before you advance).

Questions to ponder:
What can I do to develop and promote my uniqueness in my career?
How can I continue to grow as a manager, saleswoman or business owner?
What questions can I provide answers to for my clients or my organization?
Am I doing what I've been called to do or naturally do best?
How do my family and friends factor into my work?
Am I being challenged and fulfilled in my work?
How am I going to stay energized and motivated?

What to do with your day
Carpe diem - start early and work hard in the morning.
Eat foods to help you stay energized
Make sure your are well rested before your leave
Take an afternoon nap or short walk
Reward yourself and play some after you have achieved your desired result

What to bring:
Four to six colors of index cards, 15 to 20 of each color
Something to record your thoughts and ideas
Some motivational material to read
Your favorite inspirational music
Your planner and calendar
A legal pad and colored pens

How to do it

Write a title card for the area you are brainstorming. Write one idea per card as quickly as they come, not evaluating the ideas or coming up with action plans. Or if you are familiar with Mind Mapping, create maps of each of your main ideas. Use the different colors for different categories. After you have written several ideas, spread the cards out and prioritize them. When you return to the office, post all your ideas on a bulletin board in priority order so you will stay focused. Put them where you can see them every day. Don't be frustrated when interruptions happen as they inevitably will. Find some way each day to work on the high priority goals. Do something every day that will bring you closer to achieving your big picture goals.

Remember the words of the famous philosopher anonymous who said, "If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten." Take an opportunity to make this year your best year yet. Schedule some time, block it out on your calendar, and get ready for an incredible year!

Related Tags: goals, life planning

Inspirational speaker and author Tim Richardson ( is working on list of the 100 REAL Richest people in America for a new book he is writing. To nominate someone for Tim's list of the REAL Richest People in America, go to

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