Stop The Vanilla Blog

To Optimize Life Break It Down Into Seasons


There is an old song that goes, “To everything¸ there is a season and a purpose under Heaven.” As we approach February, I would recommend you take time to sit back and consider what season of life you are in right now. I’ve come to learn that life is a succession of seasons, some good and some difficult, some we planned on and others we didn’t. But to live fully in each one of those seasons is to succeed in life.

I completed an important season in my life. After five long years of hard work, I published my first book, “Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream.” Its completion made me stop and reflect and realize that whether in business or in our personal lives, life is certainly about seasons.

When I look back on the decision to write my book, I realized that I wasn’t really excited about the additional work load involved in this season, but I knew it was part of a bigger plan. It was a season that needed to be completed in order to achieve my vision. I knew that I had to identify the objectives for the project and put a plan into place to accomplish my goals. I had to involve the appropriate people in the plan and dedicate the necessary resources to complete the season.

How do you optimize each season of life? First, it is important to define what season you are in, both personally and professionally. Perhaps you are in the child rearing years, overcoming an illness, training for a marathon or taking care of aging parents. Maybe your season involves starting a new business, or reviving an ailing one affected by economic upheaval.

Once you have defined your current season develop your plan to get through it. What are the objectives of your current season and the action plans to achieve each objective. Who should you involve in the development and implementation of your plan?

The greatest benefit to approaching life in seasons is because it simplifies things. It allows you to get your arms, and more importantly your mind, around what you need to accomplish in the next chapter in your life. It keeps you moving forward, because you break down the mountain into manageable tasks. Being able to see the end of the season allows you to see the path to reaching it. Often times when people are stuck it is because they are overwhelmed by the enormity of what is in front of them. But when you break down your life into seasons it is easier to achieve a victory. It also gives you an opportunity to celebrate the successful ending of each season which I think we need to do more often.

The world seems to be moving at such a faster pace than it did 10 to 20 years ago.   Breaking your life into seasons allows you not only to keep pace but to accelerate through one season to the next.   You are focused on what needs to be accomplished to advance through your current season and as a result keep moving forward.   You get a feeling of accomplishment vs. disappointment.

Now, with the completion of this season I am thoughtfully recognizing that I am entering into a new season of my life. Professionally, I am looking at the next season for SM Advisors, the book and my speaking career. What season are you in? Are you in the early or late stages of your current season? What are the objectives of that season and what is the plan to accomplish them? What does a successful ending to that season look like and what is the timetable to do so?   Be proactive in answering these questions to succeed in your current season.

My wish for you is that you will live fully in your current and future seasons. Remember, Those Who Plan – PROFIT!

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Your Strategy Is an Evolution, Not Revolution


Imagine driving your car at night without any headlights. It’s a pretty scary thought, right? You would be hoping you stay on the road and don’t hit anything. I’m not suggesting that you try it, but that’s what it’s like not having a plan for your business and your life. Turn on the headlights to see where you are going by developing a plan!

Your first thought is that sounds like a lot of work, but it does not have to be.   Don’t feel overwhelmed by the thought of writing a business plan or life map. The strategy for your business and for your life is an evolution, not a revolution. You don’t have to come up with a plan overnight. Your strategy will evolve as you execute it and the marketplace and life itself teach you the lessons to improve your plan and accomplish your professional and personal objectives.

I estimate that most companies and individuals get about 60-70 percent of their plan completed in the first year. Another 15-20 percent is accomplished in the second year of planning. Once you get into the third year and beyond, typically you will just make small adjustments to your strategy and continue to focus on developing the talent in your organization and yourself. When someone expects to get the entire plan done in the first year, they are usually disappointed and get less done than someone who is more realistic about the task ahead. Remember: it’s an evolution, not a revolution. You just don’t have all the answers in the first year. But think how you and your business will perform at life even if you have 60 to 70% of your answers to what is next.

Another essential element of the evolution of your business or life strategy is plan execution. Each month you get together with your team or accountability partner and review the progress you have made on your plan and discuss any necessary adjustments to your strategy.   Mid-year strategy adjustments are like dialing up the brightness of your headlights during that night drive. At the monthly plan execution review you look at metrics, financial results and the action plans to work “on” your business or life to see how you are doing. The insights you gain from this review along with discussing the changes around you typically lead to clarity on the adjustments you need to make to your business plan and life map. Your strategy will evolve to stay in alignment with the changes in the marketplace and your life.

Here are just some of the benefits to you in experiencing a strategy evolution:

  • As your strategy evolves, you will experience breakthroughs that will help you obtain greater clarity of what is in front of you. The road ahead of you gets brighter.
  • Adapting a plan is easier than writing one.
  • Having a direction dramatically increases the chance of you and/or your business getting there.
  • We all have bad days. But when you have a plan in place, that bad day is not as bad because you know that you are going to wake up the next day and be right back on track.
  • You get to look back and see the progress you have made in your evolution and celebrate it.
  • Life is just better and happier when you have a strategy in place for your business and your life.


Stop driving down the road at night in the dark. Turn on the headlights and brights in your business and life by developing your plan moving forward.   Keep it simple by focusing on the first 6 months. Ask yourself, what do I want to get done in my business and life in the first six months of 2015?   (Download complementary templates at Now is the time to start your evolution to a brighter future for your business and life. Remember: Those Who Plan- PROFIT!

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Will You Be Remembered For What You Did or Didn’t Do


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the things that you did do.”  When I first heard this Mark Twain quote it became a motivating force for me because I do not want it to become true. I became … [Continue reading]

Sense of Self is Essential for Successful Self


“To give value to others, you have to begin by valuing yourself.” That quote by Tim Fargo sums up my inspiration for you in 2015. I have seen time and time again that success in life, work and relationships comes from understanding and having a sense … [Continue reading]

Here’s To A Better You In 2015


With your company business plan and budget in place (hopefully), what are you personally going to do to ensure you achieve your objectives? How are you going to step up and improve in 2015? How do you instill an attitude of continuous improvement … [Continue reading]

Department Planning Accelerates Your Company’s Success

Accelerate Success

If your company is working through its annual business planning process to create your 2014 strategic plan, you should be approaching the department planning and budgeting process.  Department planning is one of the five fundamentals of the Stop … [Continue reading]

Looking For Breakthrough To A More Fulfilling Life


Former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens once said, “Instead of me having a breakdown, I’m focusing on me having a breakthrough.” Do you have more breakdowns than breakthroughs? When was the last time that you had a real breakthrough in your life? … [Continue reading]

Emotional Intelligence Essential to Future Leaders

Future Leader

I remember when I first started my career, the leaders who often got promoted were the tough, no-nonsense types. They had an autocratic style and the attitude of “It’s my way or the highway.” They would tell their employees what to do versus sell … [Continue reading]

Being Proactive to Thrive in Long-Term Recovery


The consensus from most company leaders and economists is that we have turned the corner and have begun a long-term economic recovery.   To maximize the performance of your organization during the recovery you must develop a proactive mindset. I … [Continue reading]

Don’t Waste Your Time on Style Envy


We have all heard people be critical of themselves because they think they should be more outgoing or more organized, or one of many other traits that they admire in others. I hear comments like this frequently during team and individual development … [Continue reading]