There is an old saying, “I can’t see the forest through the trees.” I believe this is a common problem for many businesses. We are so often focused on the trees, or shall we say tasks, that we lose site of the forest or big picture. The tasks may be important like handling a customer order or mundane and time consuming like responding to emails. The tasks may be known months in advance or may seemingly pop out of nowhere. But what these “trees” usually do is distract us from the big picture. Our objectives are our forest, and all too often these objectives are forgotten because we are so caught up in the details (trees). We focus on the action steps of our objectives and forget about the big “what” we would like to accomplish. An illustration of this is building a website. There is so much that goes into creating a website; buying the domain, finding a host, hiring a developer, deciding on structure, ensuring SEO, creating content, choosing colors, proofreading, etc. But those are all trees. What we forget is the bigger picture of why we want a website. The end goal is not to have a completed website, but to have an online calling card to generate leads and lend credibility to our business.
If we focus on the details, we are apt to make wrong or inappropriate decisions. The decisions we make may seem appropriate for getting the task done, but they may be the wrong decision for our overall objective. In our rush to click things off of our to do list, we may choose the easiest, least time consuming, or least expensive solution, versus taking a step back and looking at what is best for our long term goal. All too often, making decisions in the trenches means redoing a project later to accomplish what was truly desired.
Focusing on the details can also add more stress to our lives. There can be seemingly unending lists of to-do’s that never seem to get accomplished since as soon as one is complete, two others are added. Or perhaps things are not done on time or as quickly as we like. Every task setback makes us feel like the project is a failure. But if we pull ourselves up to forest level we can see the real progress being made. To help minimize stress it is so important to stop every so often and look at the overall progress of one’s business.
My challenge to you is to look at your forest once a week. Take a few minutes to set your to-do list aside and review your overall business, sales, and marketing goals. Hopefully taking this time will help you have the right perspective to keep your business progressing and your stress-level low.