Becoming a liberated CEO isn’t something that will happen overnight or by default. It requires strategic planning at every point along the process and adapting in real time to the changing realities of your business. A helpful way to think about the path to liberation can be to liken your journey to a sailor who’s trying to navigate to a destination in the shortest amount of time. While it may seem like the fastest route is a straight line, experienced sailors know that the rhumb line—which is actually a curve—will bring you to your destination in the quickest time.
Establish Your Goal
Without first defining your goal, success will never be within your reach. This means that you must ask yourself the tough questions at the onset of your endeavor, and it is the appropriate time to articulate what the deliverable of your business is. Answering this question is essential to serving the needs of your target market and maintaining deep relationships with your customers.
It’s also imperative to consider the relationship between your professional goals and your personal responsibilities. In many cases, this may involve caring for an aging parent or spending time with your children—whatever the circumstances, it’s helpful to anticipate the transitions that are likely to come your way.
Moreover, you should be thinking from the beginning about the appropriate size for your contingency fund and how long you’ll need to build it up. After all, you’re aiming to walk the delicate line of retiring comfortably or freeing up your schedule without it negatively impacting your firm. For this stage, it’s critical that you have a clear idea of your end game and where it is that you’d like to end up—without a goal post, your exit strategy will inevitably come up short.
Pretesting your Plan
Now that you’ve articulated your goal, it’s time to initiate conversations with those whom you trust the most. Your loved ones, coworkers and associates can offer you priceless feedback about your plans, but this stage will be helpful only if you are discussing your future with people whose opinions you take seriously.
This step is important since it lets you learn from the people who are closest to you while simultaneously taking a proactive step in publicly committing to your vision. Moreover, it gives your loved ones and coworkers advance notice of your plans so that they can adapt accordingly, enabling them to be well-positioned to support you.
Ultimately, this step is about pretesting your plan for failure so that you can anticipate missteps before they actually occur. By dismantling potential roadblocks before you embark on your journey, you’ll ensure that the actual path toward liberation is as smooth as possible.
Setting definitive milestones allows you to leverage your time and assets most effectively as a liberated CEO. Since you’ve already articulated your end game in the steps above, it’s now time to set a realistic time frame for accomplishing your goal. Each milestone that you set will help your business performance in a palpable and quantifiable way.
Being honest with yourself about your end game can make it apparent that you need to make major shifts in your business life. Drastic changes are best made over time, and setting a schedule of progressive milestones will help you bring about changes without damaging all that’s taken you so long to build in your professional life.
Certain milestones may require numerous steps—especially those related to your business revenues or asset growth—but don’t let this deter you. While you may not reach every single marker along the way, it is tremendously helpful to have a detailed rhumb line as you set out on the path of liberation.