Do you ever dream of doing more than just the nine-to-five? Do you find yourself curious to discover if you could be an innovator, a leader, an inspiration?
Good news! You can discover something new today.
When participating at seminars and workshops over the last few years, I discovered something. There is an overwhelming number of people around me who have aspirations to turn their passion into a viable business. Many of them are women. Tired of being bossed around and not getting the opportunities they want, hungry for more responsibility and success, they start dreaming of dropping the shackles of employment or – at the very least – doing something they love.
However, many of them experience one major challenge to follow their dream; and it’s one which really surprised me:
Despite not being happy in their current job or life situation, many people find it extremely difficult to figure out what it is they want to do instead.
It’s not necessarily due to a lack of passions or ideas – often it’s having too many ideas and not being able to choose which one to pursue.
I wanted to figure out a way in which I could help people identify viable projects or business ideas which they could channel all their amazing and valuable talents into, so I developed a concept which I call “Follow the butterflies” and which I would like to share with you.
[Disclaimer: This is just a fun activity for finding some initial direction. Always do your research and identify any roadblocks which you may need to resolve in order to safely launch a business.]
The building blocks
Start with five sheets of paper. Label each one according to the below categories and populate the sheets with words as they pop into your mind. Try not to write the same thing on one sheet as on another.
- Sheet 1: Your strengths
Start writing down words, spread out across the sheet, in no particular order. Write things you know you are good at – i.e. skills you get complimented for, natural talents, areas where you have acquired excellence through experience etc.
- Sheet 2: Your joy
Write down activities which make you happy. Are there any aspects of your current job that make you tingle with excitement? Some activity which, when you do it, creates a sense of fulfilment and joy? One which – if the opportunity was given – you’d be happy to spend more, if not all, of your working hours doing?
- Sheet 3: Your passions
Write down problems or issues that make you angry, frustrated, excited or engaged. They can be small or big, relate to personal development or be areas of business or culture or environment. Think about practical, hands-on issues which you would love to solve if you only had the time or the resource.
- Sheet 4: Tangible business needs
No passion or strength will translate into a successful business unless people are willing to pay for it. Write down examples of what people around you are investing in today. What types of services are individuals and businesses spending money on? Write down examples which you are interested in or curious about – but it doesn’t have to be only things which you yourself already know very much about.
- Sheet 5: The important stuff
List the things which you consider to be important in your life and career, or things which you would like to have more of. (Be honest!) Things like money, more family time, visiting a particular country, having a specific job title or perhaps a team of minions working for you – whatever floats your boat, put it on the sheet. Don’t hold back – be greedy!
Get 5 containers or bowls, one for each category. Now, take a scissor to the sheets of paper and cut each item into a separate piece. Each piece is then folded up twice and twisted once, to make it look like a little butterfly (OK – maybe not exactly like a butterfly. You have to use your imagination here!) Put all the items from sheet one into the first bowl, then the same with the other sheets and bowls.
Now you’re all set. Time to do the really fun stuff!
Get a blank sheet of paper. Then take one butterfly from each bowl and unfold them in front of you. Focus on the combination of the items. What does this constellation of things tell you? If the items joined together described a particular job, project or business, what would it be?
If you get stuck, use the power of association to think of other items which are closely linked to those in front of you and see if it triggers any ideas.
When you have come up with an idea for a project or business, write it down on your sheet of paper and put the used butterflies to one side. Then pick another one from each bowl and repeat the exercise.
Find anything interesting?
No doubt, this exercise will leave you with a number of ideas which don’t quite fit with your long-term vision of what you want to do with your life. However, it will help you identify new business ideas which you may not have explored before, but which are aligned with your strengths, passions and which meet actual commercial needs.
You can always put your butterflies back in the bowls and do this exercise again to find new ideas.