A Business Plan For Life: Allison Rimm

| April 21, 2014 | Email This Post Email This Post

The Transcription of Allison’s interview with BloomerBoomer.com

Andy Asher: Our next guest brings her business acumen to help answer that; she comes from the world of business, as we say, her name is Allison Rimm. And first of all, I want to thank you so much for joining us Allison and you’re the author of the book we’re talking about – “Joy of Strategy: A Business Plan for Life”. But that was preceded, of course, as we know, by a career of helping others.

Allison Rimm: And one of the things I discovered over the years of coaching and mentoring professionals that really worked with people is that the same tools and techniques that I used to help plan for the success of a multi-billion dollar organization actually applied beautifully in planning a career and a life. And what do I mean by that? I realized that when people come looking for some help finding direction or should they go down a particular career path or pursue some kind of opportunity, that it’s very hard to evaluate each individual opportunity standing on each own. But if you do what an organization does and try to approach it from a strategic perspective, then you start with a sense of mission and purpose – what are you trying to accomplish and achieve in your lifetime? And then with that lens, it’s much easier to evaluate an opportunity. And so it’s people are going to various stages in their career and their lives and they are looking for meaning and spend their time wisely that having a strategy, in a sense of purpose and direction, really helps them to evaluate where they are, think about where they wanna go, and then develop plans to get there.

Andy: So finding the right direction can sometimes be the toughest part of the entire process. Do you address that part of the equation of “how to move forward” with something?

Allison: Sure. Yeah, you hit the nail right on the head there, Andy. When you talk about what is your purpose here on Earth, it’s like no smaller question than saying “what’s the meaning of life” and that can be really daunting, and so much so that people don’t know how to approach the question so they just don’t but they live with the nagging doubts and worries and fear of missed opportunities that go with failing to really confront that. Well it seems that your purpose is just so hard to get to, but it really doesn’t have to be that mysterious. There’s an author named Matthew Kelly who has a wonderful definition of your personal mission, and he says your mission is where your passion and talent collide with the needs of others and the world, and I really loved that, I captured the essences of what we’re trying to do and when you think about it in that perspective, then it gives you a framework to really what you think about what your purpose is. So if your mission is where your passions and talents collide with the needs of others, then you need to know what those talents and passions are. And there’s a pretty simple exercise that I have found virtually everybody can do rather easily and it’s even a lot of fun enough to just think back on one accomplishment or several accomplishments of which you are very proud and it could be anything – it could be that you gave a great presentation at work, you helped a child find direction in her life, you hosted an amazing party that was so much fun, people are talking about it years later – doesn’t matter what it is. Then I ask people to think about that accomplishment. Once they have that in their mind, then go back and say, “what was it about me and what skills and talents did I call upon to be so successful in whatever that endeavor was?” And so, let’s just say you were throwing this amazing party – well, you needed to have some friends, you probably have good interpersonal skills, some organizational capabilities to envision what that was gonna look like, think about the elements and each thing in place, put them together, maybe some artistic sense in decorating the room and buying the paper goods and maybe an amazing margarita recipe and a flair for some delicious canopies came into play. So you can just think back about your accomplishments and on the skills that you brought to bring that to life, then you can start listing out what your talents are, and most of the times, it is very highly correlated with the things that you enjoy as well. Once you make a list of those things, you can look at your skills and talents and start to think about how you can bring them to other people and that really helps you form the basis of your mission statement.

Andy: Yeah I like your examples, it ranges from the business to maybe philanthropic to, could be volunteering, and it really runs the gamut that all that can fit in too and those are good examples. And in this series that we’re doing, they have to do with life passions. Reaching some of those goals is not without some disappointment and struggle.  Sometimes that part doesn’t get addressed and it’s just kind of interesting to hear that from you.

Allison: Yeah, I think that’s a great point, Andy, and you know I try to keep the process for doing a life strategy simple because the work itself can be very, very difficult. So you want the process to just walk you through as simply as you possibly can. And sure, folks have disappointment from on the way – we all do. And for your audience in particular, it can be a very poignant time because I work with a number of people who get to a certain point in their life and they say “I’m not sure how much time I have left. I’ve had a burning passion to do x, y, and z, and now is the time because I don’t have any time to waste.” The beauty of this strategy in a strategic plan is that it’s very non-judgmental. It doesn’t really worry about your past and what got you here, except for the extent to which you can learn from those experiences to inform your future self so that you can optimize your chances for success. But the thing that’s so nice about it is that you can do a simple, non-judgmental assessment of where you are today and where you wanna be, and then you can learn from the mistakes and the disappointments that you’ve had. So with you crafting a path and a strategy to get from where you are to where you wanna be, you can take those warnings into account, not make the same mistakes over again, and perhaps choose other strategies that are more likely to help you reach your destination.

Andy: Now and in your book, you bring out the fact that there is more than just achievement, that maybe using approaching it differently can sometimes lead to more happiness.

Allison: I think this is a really critical plane and we and the Western world really love our goals and we put our sights on going for something and that’s strategic planning parlance that might be position of what a successful life looks like. So you might have a goal or two and if you envision a strategy as a map, and you know I mentioned before you are where you are and your vision statement might be the destination that you’re trying to move toward on your map, that’s great, it’s all well and good to have goals – they’re critical, they’re very important, but it’s not enough. It’s really important to choose to travel a path that you find enjoyable so that you can really find pleasure and purpose and meaning even if you’re traveling the distance. I’m really worried and don’t like it when people say, “oh, I’ll be happy when I lose ten pounds” or “oh, I’ll be happy when I find that perfect spouse” or “I’ll be happy, you name it, dot dot dot…” But you know what, those things may never happen and I just don’t think that it’s prude to postpone joy so it’s very, very important to take some time and think about what can you do to add pleasure and meaning and joy in every single day and make sure that your plans include sprinkling plenty of those seasonings on the overall steak of your musing towards your goals.

Andy: So the axiom that we hear to enjoy the journey really has a lot of meaning in what you’ve experienced?

Allison: It really does. You know, I think that it’s very practical to, I mean, to try to fact that I want people to be as happy and pleasant and joyful as possible. And also those little things are the things that help you achieve your goal so it not only makes the day pleasant, it makes the goal much more attainable and I’ll tell you why. So think about just the act of writing my book for example – that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And sometimes just getting myself into my office and into the chair and settled in to do some long, intense writing was a challenge. So I went to great lengths to create an office space that I wanted to be in, so I painted it in pretty colors, decorated it with a nice little fine in the front that says “giggle” on it. I had a view of my garden and I make myself potted tea and put on some nice music and maybe light a candle. In that way, that office has all these little things that made me in there – a joy and a pleasure and it actually sort of pulled me toward it rather than pushing me away from it. So it’s just a practical little thing and since I’m gonna have to spend hours and hours in my office doing this task, might as well as make that office a place I wanna be and then I don’t put all my energy into resisting going in there, I can put my energy into writing the book. So that’s really why enjoying the journey is not only pleasant, it’s also very practical.

Andy: Well I guess, Allison, there would really be no magic bullet to reach out some of the passions you have in life that, I guess the word that we learned when we were in school was to be disciplined about it.

Allison: What comes to mind, I work with a lot of people coaching them to meet all sorts of life goals and one of the biggest challenges that people seem to face is coming out with a sustainable exercise program. Everybody knows that moving is good for your health, but they don’t always love doing it and they manufacture all sorts of excuses and reasons not to and I just try to do a root cause analysis and figure out what’s at the bottom of their reasons into getting to the gym or falling whatever their exercise program is like sometimes stupid and dumb that finding excuses to keep out of the gym is not the kind of resistance training that’s gonna get to you some good health and fitness results. So what I really try to do is help them figure out what kind of exercise would be pleasurable for you so that you’ll actually do it – the exercise program that’s gonna work and someone that you’ll actually do. So if you really enjoy playing tennis or you’re very social and you like to go walking with your friends, why not do that rather than force yourself into a gym where you really don’t wanna be?

Andy: Now for folks who are looking at some form of retirement not too far down the road.  It is a milestone event in anyone’s life and it may not be until maybe a year or so after they’ve left what they were doing, it finally sinks in – they don’t that same sense of purpose. At that point I guess is when some people start really digging in and try to figure out what’s next and you’ve shared some good points on how to go about doing that, maybe you could apply those to anyone who is looking to retirement and maybe thinking about what’s next.

Allison: Yeah, that’s a beautiful and really important question and I think the time to think about your retirement is now even if it’s years ahead. But to think about some of the things that are really important, I see two major things happening. One of a kind of scenario that you described is that people are busy where they get a very scheduled structured lifestyle, they retire, and then they got endless unscheduled time ahead of them and they are lost for the first time, especially if they lack that sense of purpose. So the exercise that we just talked about is a great one. Also, for people to take the opportunity to look back at their careers and where were they successful and what kinds of tasks did they really enjoy doing and was there a burning desire or need to service a certain population or address an issue or something like that and how can they bring those talents that they’ve used in their experiences in another round, maybe on a volunteer basis just to touch people and make a difference in whatever way they can – that’s one thing. Another opportunity though is that I know so many people, for whatever reason, kind of ignored their real passion, and went down to maybe a more traditional career path. So I had several people tell me that they really, in their heart of hearts, is an artist or a musician or something like that was forced by circumstances or parents who were paying their college bills to go to a more practical or so-called practical career such as accounting or the law or something like that. Well, retirement is a beautiful opportunity to express your inner you-name-it. If you were really always a musician and you got a passion for that, this is a wonderful time to pursue that part of you that really needs to be expressed. And I love to say to people, “don’t die with your songs still inside of you.” I don’t necessarily mean that literally, but you certainly can. What are the things that you’ve always wanted to do that circumstance, fear, or practicalities kept you from doing cause now is a beautiful time to pursue that interest.

Andy: It really is. And Allison, as we wind down here a little, I thought maybe, going through your book, you have some a great ways of including exercises on how to achieve certain goals and maybe you could just talk a little bit about how your book, how a reader could apply your book to whatever their point in life is.

Allison: Oh sure, thanks for pointing that out. Like I said before, I really try to make the steps – there are 8 steps toward creating a business plan for your life and I try to keep them as focused and simple and also enjoyable as possible. But it really walks you through this very straightforward disciplined path to look at who you are as a person, what skills and talents do you have like we said, what really matters to you, what are your core values in the way that you want to live your life, what does success look like – those are really good things. But then there’s this beautiful Japanese proverb that says, “vision without action is a daydream and action without vision is a nightmare.” So I like to say that once we thought the great thoughts and we’ve envisioned what we want our lives to look like, then we have to get really practical and start taking actual stats so that we can make that vision come to life. And so we do things as simple as listing out what you need to succeed in carrying out your vision and then setting out some specific goals to attain whatever those cost factors are. We do a what we call a “SWOT analysis” – we look at your strengths and weaknesses and we look at what’s happening in the environments around you so that you can size up what’s standing between you and your goals so that you can come up with a strategy that will help you use your strengths, take advantage of your opportunities, but also make up for some of the weaknesses that you may be seizing so that your strategies really have the best chance of getting the results that you want. And then we end up the book with some tips to actually get moving cause that inertia from getting from going from zero to sixty. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, so we just talk about taking simple, small steps just to get started and build momentum. And then the book is really just filled with all sorts of stories that people who follow these steps to make their dreams, large and small, come true, so it gives people an idea on how it works in real life.

Andy: And so that last part is so important because you don’t want to get off track but stay in the course – that’s really crucial because it’s so easy to get off track.

Allison: It’s so easy, and you know what, I like where you started the conversation because you talked about disappointment and we all do. Being resilient is such an important skill or muscle to develop so that you can just get back in the saddle and keep going for it. If he’s got passion in life, he’s got something that you want to do and you feel a real sense of purpose, he’s got to dig deep, find out what’s bringing your back from achieving that, address it head on, and just go for it with all you’ve got.

Andy: So what inspired you to do this?  You must have realized the things you do at your job,  you can apply to other people who can read the book.

Allison: That’s exactly right and sometimes people were doing great things. It wasn’t that they weren’t achieving a lot, they really were, but they weren’t necessarily achieving soul-satisfying results, they were getting results and I really want people to be passionately engaged and really enjoying themselves on they were doing the good works and that’s really what keeps us steeled for that journey that you discussed before.

Andy: Great message, Allison. As we wind up, any other points or anything about the book that you feel important to share?

Allison: Since you mentioned it, just what’s been coming up over and over recently is that people are just afraid, for whatever reason, in pursuing their passions and there is something, some kind of fear, in the root of that and I just love to tell people to find what it is that’s holding your back and if it’s fear, face that fear right in the face. Look it in the face, embrace it, and then figure out how to get past it, because there’s really nothing worse than letting fear keep you back from doing something that is so important to you and then in the end, what we fear tends to not be nearly as dangerous as we imagined that it might be.

Andy: So true, yeah. The Joy of Strategy: A Business Plan for Life, Allison, it’s been great. Thank you for taking the time.

Allison: Well thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.

If there’s a word that brings fear and uncertainty to active, working people, it’s “retirement”. They dread the thought of having to spend the rest of their lives just sitting on a chair, watching TV all day and getting up only when food is served. They dread the thought that they would never be active again and that they would never experience the joys they had when they were at their prime. And with today’s weakening economy, their time to retire may come sooner than they expect.

However, according to Allison Rimm, author of the best-selling book “Joy of Strategy: A Business Plan for Life”, retirement

Category: Passions Over 55

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