Many of us set goals and targets for our lives. The problem is that we spend far more time figuring out how to get there than we do on actually working and taking action towards that goal. We read books on goal setting and on achieving success. We look into personal development and growth for answers on how to get where we want to go. It is a very common problem, and one that is totally unnecessary.
You already know how to figure out how to get there, though. If you have ever gone someplace new you learned the process.
Step One: Where You Are Now ?
It seems obvious that we should focus our attention on where it is we want to go. That is the point, right? But think back to the last time you asked for directions…what was the first question they asked?
Where are you coming from?
The best plan, just like the best directions, is totally useless if you do not know exactly where you are now. You cannot possibly know what to work on, what turns to take if you haven’t thought about that FIRST.
Step Two: Where Do You Want to Go?
Make sure you are doing things in the correct order. Once you are clear where we are now, we can decide if we want to be someplace else. Once we know we want to be someplace else, we should get as clear of an “address” as we can for that new location.
If you are going to a friend’s house, we want the actual street address. If you decide to try that restaurant your friend has been talking about you will want to know the crossroads (“It’s at the corner of 5th and Main”).
If you want to get a better job, you need to know what that job would be. If you want more money, how much money do you want? You must be clear on your destination if you are to have any hope of getting there.
Step Three: Ask Someone Who Has Been There Before
You could try to find your way on your own. I am not going to telling you that you could never find your way. But if you are trying to go someplace you haven’t been before and you just hop in the car, odds are you will make some wrong turns along the way. You may very well get there, eventually, but you’ll lose a lot of time and waste resources.
It is better to ask someone who has gone where you hope to go before. The single fastest way to achieve a goal is to mimic the behaviors and actions of someone who did it before. That way you avoid the mistakes. Obviously, you’ll ask for at least rough directions…but take the time to pick their brain a little more. Is there anything you should look out for? What about potholes, speed bumps, constructions sites, etc?
You’ll find that successful people generally like talking about how they achieved that success. It doesn’t matter if the success was large are small. Frankly, humans like to talk about themselves and what they have done.
Step Four: Plan Your Route
Get out the map and write out directions. Be specific and detailed. You can’t say drive 25 miles in a western direction and hope to get anyplace in particular. You have to know the roads take, turns to make, and how far you should go.
For a goal, you need to know the steps you need to take to et there. If you are trying to land your dream job, what skills do you need to develop, what degrees and/or certifications should you get, who do you need to know, etc. Create a step by step plan.
No matter how difficult your goal seems, you can get there from wherever you are now if you break it down into smaller steps. One of my favorite parts of The Secret was when one of their experts pointed out that you can only see a few feet ahead of you when you are driving in the dark with your headlight. You have no idea what may lay beyond that, but you can drive from New York to LA by just driving those few feet and then being able to see the next few, then the next few…and on and on.
Step Five: Get Going!
You can sit there and plan, figure, and map out forever but you will never get anywhere unless you get up and move. Nobody would ever think they can get to the restaurant across town by sitting on their couch and thinking about it, reading menus and planning the route. But that is exactly what happens to many people when they set goals.
Take the first step, even if you are not 100% clear about all of the plan down the road. Things clear up as you get moving just like the car headlights on the NY to LA road trip.
Step Six: Be Ready (and Willing) to Make Changes
No matter how great a plan we have, sometimes we get off track. Maybe we do not pay close enough attention and make a wrong turn, or go to far and miss a turn. Be willing to accept that mistakes happen and that all you need to do is ask for directions back to the road.
We may even find out that the destination isn’t as great as we thought. We may find out the great restaurant our friends brag about might actually end up being a dump. It’s not your fault, sometimes you have to realize that there is something better out there and you can just start over and get to that place.
Tom Haynes has worked with sales, management, and not-for-profit for companies, helping their staff set goals, increase productivity, exceed expectations, and manage their human resources. He is a frequent contributor to E-Motivate.com, a site dedicated to success, motivation, and abundance.