(This article is adapted from the new book, Live Large: The Achiever’s Guide to What’s Next.)
You’ve lived a life people point to as successful: You’ve made the “right” decisions, reached the goals you set, achieved status in your industry and been rewarded or acknowledged for your accomplishments. But you feel restless. You want to know what’s next. The truth is, the wide horizon you are imagining is right in front of you.
But how can you rethink and adjust your business model?
If a possibility makes you feel like throwing your hands up and shouting hooray!, rate it a 5 on the Yippee Index.
You need to use your head and your gut. When I say use your gut, I’m talking about using your emotions: For example, how does a possibility make you feel? It’s difficult to rate your emotions, so I created a rating system I call the Yippee Index®.
If a possibility makes you feel like throwing your hands up and shouting hooray!, rate it a 5 on the Yippee Index. If, on the other hand, you feel like shrugging your shoulders at a possibility, it should likely be rated a 2 or 3 on the index.
When it comes to finding what’s next, you need to assess the situation (that’s using your head) and check in with your gut by asking yourself: How do I feel?
This “gut check” is the Yippee Index. I came up with it one afternoon when I was working with a bright intellectual properties lawyer in the music industry. She had become increasingly frustrated with her boss and wasn’t sure what her options were, so we brainstormed as many possibilities as we could: Join another music rights organization, join a record label, start her own law firm, join an existing law firm, shift to government relations work … The list went on and on. To help narrow down her choices, I said: “When you look at these options, which one makes you want to say ‘Yippee!’?”
“Yippee!” is an expression that harkens back to a time of greater innocence, a time when it was OK to jump up and shout with glee — no judgment, no holding back, arms raised in the air.
Exploration: Assessing Your Options
In your exploration, look at the benefits and risks for each possibility (your head), and then rate each on the Yippee Index (your gut) scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. The 5s are the possibilities that have you saying “Yippee!” the loudest. Once you do this exercise, you may realize that some of the possibilities are not worth pursuing, and that’s OK.
Create a table (like the one below) whose first column on the far left lists each possibility you’ve identified for a possible next step.
In the next column over, list the benefits of each possibility. Ask yourself: Why is this a good option? What good consequences or opportunities may open up with this option (e.g., a chance to learn new things, meet people who share your interests, and earn more money)? Benefits may also include things like: allowing you to travel more or not having to travel as much; to be on a team; to be the boss or to be able to work from different locations.
In the next column over, list the risks/disadvantages of each possibility. These may include low job security, low pay or that the position may require another degree.
In the next column over, rate each possibility from 1 to 5. Which one makes you feel like saying, “Yippee!?” Rate this a 5. When you feel “Yip- pee!” about a possibility, it gives you energy to pursue it.
And in the last column, note what the next steps would be to pursue the possibility. This may include things like:
- Call Joe and have him introduce me to Sam at ABC company
- Do online research about firms in my area
- Identify licensing requirements in my state
- Make an appointment for an information interview with Jean Jones, president of XYZ company
For those possibilities with a high Yippee Index, you may have lots of next steps in mind. Don’t feel overwhelmed by this! What matters most for now is the first next step —your next green light as you begin your journey toward your possibility.
Here is a sample of what your chart might look like:
Are you willing to make your move toward a richer life that makes you say “Yippee” an important priority? If yes, then treat it as such and put that first step on your calendar right now.
Then, write out a sentence describing the outcome or results you want to create, as if it were already true: “The book manuscript is ready for review,” “The business plan is in front of investors,” “The website is live,” “My new job has started.”
Next, write down the date by which you hope to be engaged in the work, project or role you want to be in. It may take one month one year or longer.
Then, on your calendar, block time segments each week when you are going to focus on actions that will create the outcome you want.
Now, pick a label for that block of time. One that, when you see it, will reconnect you with the excitement you have for making it come true.
Working this way, you’ll be amazed how your gradual progress every week moves you closer and closer to what you want to be, have and accomplish and closer to making the impact you want to make.
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