Life can sometimes feel like a business.
That is, if you want your life to be successful. Back in 2012, financial planner Neal Frankle wrote for U.S. News that planning your life like a business can help you find financial success. Like a business, it’s important for people to take risks in their lives, he charged, and to budget their finances so that they know what kind of lifestyle they can afford.
Frankle also said it’s important to set long-term goals, like a business, since that’ll help you plan for the future.
“You have to think out 10, 20, 30 years and beyond,” he wrote. “This is true no matter what your current age. Think about how the decisions you make today are going to impact you and your children and grandchildren. I am not asking you to forgo your own life for the sake of the next generation. But I’m asking you just to think about what the future looks like for your family based on the decisions you make today.”
But, like a business, sometimes you need to change the way you live your life, or add something new to it so that it has a refresh. That’s why it may be helpful to check out the latest advice from Clayton Christensen, a scholar and educator who currently serves as the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School.
This week, Christensen, Thomas Bartman and Derek van Bever put together a research paper that explained different ways for entrepreneurs to remodel their businesses, embrace innovation, and become more successful.
In the scholarly article, which was published on Wednesday for MIT’s Sloan Review, Christensen and his fellow researchers showed how every business, like a life, goes under a specific journey.
The model shows a business’ journey from creation to optimization.
“A business model, which in an established company is typically embodied in a business unit, travels a journey that begins with the creation of the new business unit and its business model, and then shifts to sustaining and growing the business unit — and still later to wringing efficiency from it,” he wrote. “Each stage of the journey is conducive to a specific type of innovation, builds a particular set of interdependencies into the model, and is responsive to a particular set of performance metrics.”
This can say something about one life’s too. Since Christensen outlined specific ways business leaders can create a new business, you too can take these lessons and implement them into your life if you’re feeling stalled and looking to retool.
Here are the five pieces of advice from Christensen, along with how you can implement them into your own life.
Look at where you are in your life’s journey to figure out where to grow
One of Christensen’s tips calls for business leaders to look at where their potential business rests on its life journey so that they can assess where they need to go next. Doing so will help you better identify your business’ needs.
The same can be applied to your life. By looking at your relationships, faith and accomplishments, you can start to figure out what you really want in life.
Befriend rivals and competitors to improve your own success
Christensen and his researchers also ask for business owners to “run with potential disrupters of your businesses.” This is to say, if you see a potential disrupter to your business, bring it into your daily routine and implement some of the lessons from it into your own strategy.
It may benefit you, too, to befriend your rival, since having a friend who is also competition can provide benefits to both parties.
“It does this in two ways: first, by incorporating knowledge across its entire ecosystem that allows it to develop optimized end-to-end solutions for customers, and second, by employing a royalty-based revenue model that ensures incentives are aligned with those of its customers,” the researchers wrote.
It’s not always easy to make friends with someone you’re competing against. But it can be done as long as you assess your ongoing relationships, according to Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D., of Psychology Today.
She said it’s important to recognize why your competition is being competitive in the first place, since this will help you track their motivation. It’s also a good idea to be a team player and find ways to work together with the rival.
“Whatever strategy you choose, be mindful of how this person may be triggering your own negative scripts and insecurities,” Greenberg wrote. “Try to see the whole person and relationship, of which competitiveness may be only one aspect. Don't personalize the person's behavior or get too attached to making them change. This may be about their inner insecurities, not about you. Keep in mind the humanity that you share with this person and try to summon up compassion for both you and them. When you are centered and clear about who you are, difficult people become easier to deal with.”
Focus on the true wants and needs of the people you hope to serve
Christensen said it’s important to identify a “job to be done” in order to determine how your business can succeed in the future. This will not only help you figure out what kind of talent to cultivate, but it’ll also give you some indication about how to better serve the people around you.
For your life, this means you may need to figure out ways to better serve those you are close to so that you can grow.
“When identifying new market opportunities, it’s critical that you begin with a focus on the customer’s job to be done, rather than on your company’s capabilities," the researchers wrote. "It’s tempting to look at your capabilities as the starting point for any expansion, but capabilities are of no use without a job for them.”
Fully embrace your new life
Christensen also asks for business leaders to fully embrace their new business. When creating a new enterprise, it sometimes makes more sense to create an independent company that serves on its own, rather than one that relies on others. This gives the new business the opportunity to fully succeed.
“When a new business is housed within an existing unit, it must adopt the priorities of the existing business to secure funding; in doing so, the new business often survives in name but disappears in effect,” he wrote.
That’s why it may be important for you to embrace your own life. Doing that is easier said than done. But Emily Madill, an author and professional coach, wrote for The Huffington Post that this can be accomplished if you focus on your life and what you want to have happen in it.
It’s also important for you to take care of yourself, as it keeps your emotional health strong and leaves you happy.
And you can’t forget gratitude, either.
“Receiving the opportunity to live a full life is meant to be a gift, not a burden,” Madill wrote. “It all comes down to our perception and approach to life. See what happens when you add an element of gratitude to your view.”
Merge your life with someone else's to succeed at your dreams
Christensen also said it’s important to merge with others and acquire new skills and talents to help a business grow. Essentially, bringing in another business to your own can help you not only create new opportunities, but improve upon the ones you’ve already built.
This is how marriage can help you grow, in a way. By merging your life and goals with someone else’s, you can improve upon your own. As the Harvard Business Review explained in 2013, couples who help each other with their careers end up assisting the other with thriving, giving them a leg up on the competition.
“Just as lack of consensus around finances can doom a marriage, lack of support from one’s spouse can effectively sink a career,” HBR explained. “To make dual careers work, a couple needs to be on the same page regarding their career and life goals and how they will support each other in achieving them.”
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.