Is there something you’ve wanted to work on; a project you’d like to start? Do you have a goal, dream or at least an inkling of where you want to go or what you want to do? Do you fear the blank spot on the map between now and there? Do you find yourself circling a maze of false-starts and drowning in overwhelm at not knowing what your next steps should be? Then read on and let’s find some clarity.
If you’ve ever cleaned your house, especially spring cleaned, you’ll recognize some of the steps below. If you jump into cleaning without some semblance of a game plan, I guarantee you’re sure to miss a lot. As a professional house cleaner for over a decade, I credit my first few clients with having trained me. I thought I knew how to clean…dust, vacuum, mop. What more is there? Ouch. My clients that first year taught me to see, to plan and then execute – and that changed my life.
I realized that the principles I was learning chasing dust bunnies applied to every aspect of our lives. Vision will be your starting point, no matter your situation or goal. You have to learn to see who/what/where you are AND who/what/where you want to be. That knowledge then must be translated into an actionable game plan. Lastly, and the largest challenge, is execution.
The below is a pared down outline that is sure to lead to success, no matter who/what/where you are or who/what/where you want to be – IF you follow the steps. I can’t stress that enough. No shortcuts. No glossing over. Each of these steps are critical and demand serious attention.
STEPS TO SUCCESS
Start with the end in mind. Create a vision of what achieving your end goal will look like. Create a vision board or vision art journal or vision free-writing and engage with it daily. Anything to keep you honing and focusing on the vision.
Example 1: You want to further your education to embark on a new career.
Example 2: You want to develop a new service at work to better serve clients you recognize as being overlooked by current practice.
2. Clarify your values. Sometimes this step will be first. Nearly always, you’ll ping-pong between steps 1 and 2 as you continually develop and clarify your goal.
Example 1: Knowledge is power; education provides greater opportunities; well-roundedness.
Example 2: Team work; clear and open communication; trustworthiness.
3. Purge and declutter. Prune everything/one that does not fully support your values and goal. Reassess the purpose of things and relationships and tidy them up.
Example 1: Do all the magazines you’ve subscribed to over the years support your new education/career goal? If not, cancel them and subscribe to 1 or 2 that do. (But no more. You won’t actually read them.)
Example 2: Is your family’s busy calendar clogging your work calendar to the point it’s all confusing and overwhelming to look at? Separate them and only look at the work calendar while at work and the family calendar outside of the office.
4. Now the real cleaning begins. When cleaning a house, I always move top to bottom; left to right. Pit each object/situation/opportunity/relationship/etc. against your values and goal. You’ve already done this in step 3, so you have already decided that this ‘thing’ supports your values and goal. Now dig deeper. How best might it provide its support? Can it be repositioned to offer stronger support? Can it be repositioned to play double duty?
Example 1: You have a loving spouse who tries to be supportive. But what you really need is someone to cook and/or clean up after dinner so you can utilize that time to study for a class you’ve enrolled in.
Example 2: You have a competent assistant at work. Yet one issue she can’t help with is your inbox that hijacks a large portion of your day. Or can she? Work with your assistant to have her respond to as much of your email as possible and to triage the rest for you to tend to. You cut your workload; every email is responded to in a more timely manner and you more quickly move on with your other tasks.
You’ll notice I keep using the word: goal. Singular. I realize life is never so simple that you can focus 100% of your time and efforts to one endeavor. If nothing else, you must eat, right? However, I do insist that simplification will be one of your biggest keys to success. While you do need to realistically prioritize health, family, etc., I encourage you to focus on as few major goals at any given time as possible. While you will not accomplish any one goal in a few hours or even days, if you intend to succeed, that one goal will need as much of your undivided attention in those beginning hours, days, weeks, as possible. Once you have the ball confidently rolling, you may consider initiating another major goal while maintaining the first as it continues to chug along.
5. Reassess. This may be the most often overlooked and yet is just as crucial as taking that first step. Jump ahead a week, a month, a year. How do you know if you’re still on the right route if you never check yourself against that map you so painstakingly designed? Sticking with our cleaning analogy, when you clean your house or tidy up your office, aren’t you often shocked at how messy or dusty or disarrayed it’s become over a seemingly short period of time? Perhaps, more shocking is when your intention is to just tidy up a little only to realize once you really start paying attention that it needs a lot more than just fluffing pillows. How did this happen and how were you so oblivious? Well, because that’s life. You’re busy and focused on many things at any given moment, no matter how many times I tell you to stop multi-tasking. So how do you avoid these not-so-little surprises? By following steps 1-4 on a mini level regularly. Depending on the scope of your goal, this may be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly. It’s also crucial to enlist others in this reassessment process. We humans like ease and tend to dig cozy little ruts. We may not see the bigger picture going on outside; our view obstructed by the walls of our rut. It can be eye-opening to communicate to a trusted supporter of your goal and values, then have them review steps 3 and 4 with you. Even if they say nothing, having a sounding board, being forced to articulate your goal, values, and actions out loud can be enlightening in and of itself.
Applying this simplified template to all of your goals will surely ease you into success, while stripping away much of the clutter and overwhelm. Think of it as a checklist. Or perhaps as a guideline to help you draw your own map and become the cartographer of your destiny.
So whatcha working on? Do you have a specific goal in mind to apply these steps to?