“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction”

John F. Kennedy

It got broken into twice within a month. Everyone on the street looked like they were on crack and were missing most of their teeth. Property development is tough, and this was my last and most challenging development to date.

I had to drive round there every day to make sure there had been no problems the night before. Some days I even went twice. I had a washing machine, a fridge, bags of rubble and building materials wedged behind the back door that kept getting kicked in.

Was this really my purpose in life? I hoped not. I’d loved my previous four developments but this one was taking its toll. The stress, the anger and the time taken to deal with security issues made it hell. Plus, how was I ever going to sell this place? Who would want to live in an area like this?

It took a while and it sold for less than I’d planned. Months and months of slowly dying inside for basically no profit after all things were considered. But… many, many lessons learned for future ventures.

I haven’t done another property since. Maybe I will one day, who knows. Overall it was a business I loved, but the level of investment and anguish required to be a success just didn’t seem worth it – to me.

Related — The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Dealing with Failure

I wanted to find something that would make me some extra money, yet something that was heavily scalable over time. Something that would become my purpose, something that I thought property was going to be. Something that could change my life.

I wanted something I could do from anywhere in the world as I love to travel. I wondered how great it would be to one day have a business I could operate using just my laptop from any corner of the world.

So I got to work…

What am I good at? What skills do I have that I could sell and businesses would love to pay me for? What businesses could I create using these skills that I could run from anywhere using just my laptop and an internet connection?

I did what I’ve always done – I made lists. I love lists! Every day I have a ‘to do’ list and then another one that covers the full week. I love lists for two reasons – planning is vital to operate efficiently and lists breed creativity – for me anyway.

The more ideas you write down the more ideas you will have. If you can’t think of one idea, write down 10, then 20. This eliminates perfectionism. Perfectionism will always block progress. Bad ideas are good, let them come out. You can’t access the good ones with the bad ones still floating around in your mind. Ideas are pure, let them flow and go with that flow.

Related — How to Live the Life of a Dreamer

To find your purpose I recommend creating two lists – write down things you enjoy on one list and things you are good at on the other. Write as many as you can think of. It doesn’t need to be neat, you can throw it away when you’re done.

Tip: If you are struggling to think of things you enjoy, write a list of things you used to love as a child – you’ll be surprised at how many of these things you will still enjoy. If you can’t think of things that you are good at then list any little thing – even the washing up counts!

Once you’ve got your two lists, make connections from one side to the other. Mix the ideas together – this will lead to your business idea(s). The amount of connections between the lists can be vast, so focus on what excites you the most.

Look at the few lines I made (below). I could create tens, maybe hundreds of business ideas from this. That is the next job, make a list of at least ten businesses you could start using your initial two lists and the connections. Here’s what I came up with:

That is the power of the humble list. It costs no money and only a small amount of time, yet it brings so many possibilities to life. Obviously this is just the beginning and a lot more goes in to designing the right business / career change for you, but this will open your mind up to the world of opportunity that is available to you.

You can do anything you put your mind to, you just need to start.

Related — 5 Daily Habits to Get Off Rock Bottom

Maybe we have many different purposes as we progress through life, I’ve certainly had more than one so far and I’m not done yet.

Re-invention can be scary but it’s a lot easier than you may think. Like a lot of things in life and business – once you get started you’re halfway there.

Spend the next 10 minutes writing your lists, it could change everything.

Best of luck and let me know what you come up with.

-Matthew Brown

Thank you for reading. If you need any help designing your future, ask me anything on Twitter!

I’m also going to be taking a quick break for the next two weeks, with the next article being released on 7th September. I am taking some time out with the family and progressing plans for the new Business of Life website — coming this year!

See you back here soon and thanks for your ongoing support!