I Spent 3 Weeks Business Planning and Ended Up with a Strategy For A Better Life

by Jun 24, 2014Creative Thinking32 comments

If I knew of a way to stop telling myself lies, I would.

A couple of CIA agents wrote a book called Spy the Lie, where they reveal the “tells” people give when lying. For example, if someone pauses to answer a question they should easily and immediately know the answer to, they’re probably lying.

As a mother, I already knew this.

If I ask my daughter if she ate five servings of fruits and vegetables last Thursday, she’ll understandably pause before answering. That’s a hard thing to remember. But if I ask if she brushed her teeth this morning and she pauses, she’s probably lying. (She’ll usually do a hard swallow too, another big tell. Poor kid.)

But those kinds of “tells” are useless when evaluating your own internal voices.

For example, sometimes I get caught up thinking about how to create a six-figure business. I spent a week strategizing what products I could offer and dreaming up creative marketing ideas. I got really specific, running numbers for different scenarios, re-evaluating based on my known optimistic tendencies, etc.

It was a lot of work, but it was fun work. Until I realized what having a six-figure business would really mean.

It would mean, at least for the foreseeable future, I wouldn’t have time to write my (freaking) book. Then I started to question whether or not I really wanted to write a book.

You only need one little crack in your thinking before the whole thing falls apart.

Many days later, I had a whole list of epiphanies:

  1. I care a lot more about influence and impact than money, but I’d been using money as a substitute.
  2. I was being driven by the fear that people would see me as a failure as an entrepreneur if I didn’t hit the 6-figure revenue mark.
  3. At heart, I am a ideator, writer, and coach, not a marketer. I can do the latter, but it doesn’t light me up. And compared to those who are at the 6-figure mark and higher, I’m not that good at it.
  4. Even though I know it’s ridiculous, I am completely and utterly scared my book won’t measure up, mostly to my own crazy expectations.

At this point, I wondered if my entire self-concept was going to unravel. How could there be so many lies in one person’s head? How many more could there be?

That’s when I stopped talking and started drawing.

I had filled pages and pages of a notebook with thoughts, ideas, expletives, lists, questions, and what I thought might be answers.

But it wasn’t until I challenged myself to draw my ideal life that things got really clear, really fast.

What does your ideal life look like?

What does your ideal life look like?


Maybe lies haven’t figured out a way to infiltrate our pictures. Maybe stick figures are immune to those crazy voices in our heads.

Regardless, I feel a sense of peace every time I look at this page in my notebook (and I look at it often). It’s not as good as having a personal definition of success by a long shot, but it gets the job done in 5 minutes or less.

It reminds me how easy it is to overcomplicate happiness.

I don’t want to suggest that you do this exercise and you’ll never have another doubt about what to do with your life again.

One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that clarity is a permanent object, that once you have it, you never have to go looking for it again.

Even still, what this quick set of drawings was able to accomplish for me was surprising. I saw what I should do with my life right now. As in today. And probably for several months after that. If it’s not obvious, creating a six-figure business is nowhere in that picture.

I know the lies will creep back in at some point. And like a gullible friend, I’ll probably fall for most of them again.

One of the lies will undoubtedly be something like, “You’re a coach! Aren’t you supposed to have this all figured out?”

If I’ve really made progress, I’ll laugh at myself.

Then I’ll go back to the things I love, those things that don’t require a big brain or big bank account to enjoy.

And I’ll do my best to share them.