Every marketing maven in the world wants to own their niche.
Being the gorilla in any sand box is always fun – you make
the rules and can extract a premium price and scaled margins for
whatever you are pitching. So
why not apply this learning to your personal life?
Implicitly, owning your own niche – living on your terms –
gives you control of not only your work, but life as well.
So how do you create (and thus control) your niche?
From experience, a few basic conditions must be initially met.
Your niche must draw on:
Your personal mission and its
Without this purpose, pursuing life, liberty, and happiness can be
inalienably frustrating and counterintuitive. Possessing even a sense
of your meaning naturally triggers an accelerating and self-fulfilling
alignment across your stars and planets, from your work options to
your social endeavors to your purposeful pastimes.
Combining your meaning with your means is paramount to creating
Those activities you both love
to do and are great at.
Ignore the incredibly tempting urge to be a superstar and focus
your energies on those skills that you naturally excel at and
thoroughly enjoy exploiting. This
two-part condition is critical as many people have climbed ladders
based on competencies they don’t particularly like to use, and the
next rung only keeps getting farther away.
This said, also examine the context of your work, as what you
may not like to use in a particular setting, industry, or under a
particular manager, may ignite the fire in your gut if applied in a
Your personal values.
Simply put, do you think your spirit and performance will shine
of you are working in an environment that doesn’t recognize and
support who you are?
Whatever life experiences you
want to inculcate into your daily affairs. You are much, much more
than merely words on a resume. Being
able to draw on whatever unique life experiences you have had brings
defensible differentiation, strength, and enjoyment to your niche.
What is important to you,
wherever you are in life.
Figuring out your priorities and more importantly building your
niche around them is absolutely critical to defining and bringing the
New You to market. For
whatever reasons –burn out, kids, control – let’s say you
don’t want to work 80 hour weeks any longer or you’d like to work
from home or on a flex-schedule, identifying these facets is key to
constructing a niche that suits your needs.
Defining wealth and success.
Seriously, how do you define these two terms?
Are they merely more zeros on statements?
You may also want to define “success” in non-financial
metrics – the number of times you can go skydiving per year, the
number of people’s lives you can improve through your work or
volunteering efforts -- however you want to define your personal
success is critical as metrics drive the strategy of your performance.
If you need to hit XYZ targets to get your bonus, you’ll
focus on those targets; imagine the happiness of using this same
rationale in Life.
Fulfilling life experiences. Finally,
your niche should revolve around helping you fulfill or fund whatever
life experiences you want to have before the inevitable estate tax
kicks in. This could be
anything from living in different geographies, visiting different
geographies, to raising happy hooligans.
Life is a one-shot deal; if you keep putting things on hold,
they will inevitably slip away.
you have figured out what your niche might look like, develop a
tactical plan to make it happen, replete with milestones and budgets.
Generating this roadmap before you start is obviously pragmatic; you
certainly don't want to get lost en route to your promised land. Most
importantly, making this plan lets you define the length and relative
ruggedness of your particular path, based on your intrinsic openness
to various sorts of risk, finances being a prime example.
Whether it be an internal move in your current employer, a move
to another employer, or becoming your own employer, understanding and
planning for the financial aspects of this change is incontestably a
last step in rolling out your niche is arguably the most important,
particularly for those whose income supports more than one outcome.
Getting buy-in for your plan from those around you – your
spouse or significant other, your parents, potentially a HR Colleague
at work, or a mentor -- is non-arguably essential.
Once this support has been secured, whatever next steps you
need to make are trodden with the knowledge of a network, the
confidence of confidantes, and the belief that belies any perceptions
of potential failure.
Creating and conquering your niche, like life,
is an iterative process. Two steps forward, sometimes three steps
back. To think you can nail things on a first, second, or even third
pass might be a tad far-fetched, but realistically this is exactly
what must happen. Life is
not a linear game and you must navigate its inevitable zigs and zags.
In this particular expedition, however, you are creating the
maze versus merely following one.
Fundamentally, going after your niche will hone your ability to focus
your mind and efforts on a few particular yet key actions. Why is
focus so important? Because life has a mischievous way of distracting
you. There is always something else drawing your attention, always a
multitude of other uses of your life and time, especially the small
ones, which, like expenses, can quickly add up and even start to
Similarly, it doesn’t matter if your plan is as slick as silicone, if
you cannot execute it with the discipline of its author, its failure
is assured. ‘Discipline’
in this context does not (necessarily) imply “If you don’t finish
your work by 5:00 p.m. EST today, you will be required to stay after
and write the company mission statement on the whiteboard 50 times…
in cursive.” Discipline
in our context simply means putting most distractions aside and
following through on what you have created.
Since your plan has been (impassionedly) designed by you and for your
personal benefit, attacking its execution with requisite diligence
should be considerably easier than trying to follow prior directives
where these elements may not have been so readily evident.
To be clear, you are the one and only one who can bring your
niche to market. It is out
there, patiently waiting for you.
It is time to get out there and make it yours.
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