Saturday, October 9, 2010

Accomplishing Goals 101

“All things are created twice. There is a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation of all things. You have to make sure that the blueprint, the first creation, is really what you want, that you have thought everything through, Then you put it into brick and mortar. Each day you go to the construction shed and pull out the blueprint to get marching orders for the day. You begin with the end in mind.”
Stephen R. Covey The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I am constantly amazed at how we as a society approach goals. We all know how important they are, but too few of us really create them, let alone follow through and accomplish them. Think of how New Year’s resolutions have almost become a joke for us. It is almost always assumed that most of those goals will go unheeded.

Part of the problem is that the vast majority of us have never been formally trained on how to effectively plan and achieve our goals. It is not taught to students in school, and most certainly not taught to the workforce. In fact, most individuals are probably unaware that there are systematic approaches available to create achievable goals. A good goals creation process includes a framework that helps develop a clear vision of the end results, and the effective mechanics of accomplishing that goal. Effective mechanics includes identifying obstacles and action steps.

Developing Blue Prints
Goal accomplishment begins by establishing a relationship between where you are now and where you want to go. Begin this process with a personal and professional inventory or assessment that will help you identify your current dreams and aspirations. Define what do you want to accomplish, achieve, own, do, and be? Be careful not to let your practical mind limit your dreams and ideas. Grant yourself permission to think big and out of the box.

In addition to allowing yourself to desire and dream, take a moment to assess where you are mentally, socially, physically, financially, in regards to your family as well as with your ethics. We usually have a tendency to evaluate, focus, and measure effectiveness only in our professional and business lives. The common measurement is financial success. However, what we are all really after is balance. We do want financial success, but we also want the time to enjoy the benefits of that financial success. We want time with our friends and our family, and we don’t want to trade health for wealth.

Through the dreaming process we determine what we want to achieve, what
we want to do, and what we want to be. Next an evaluation or assessment process provides a clearer picture of our strengths and areas that we may choose to improve. The next step is to prioritize based on your dreams, evaluations, and assessments those specific items or goals that are most important to you now and that you want to take action on. This is the final step to providing the blueprint for your success.

As Covey indicates creating the brick and mortar is the second phase. Blueprints alone will not generate success. An architect can create a perfect blueprint, but without the appropriate building supplies and a contractor to do something with the supplies, the perfect house will never be built. The same fundamentals apply to goal accomplishment.

Bricks and Mortar
First, all goals need to be written down. Many people have goals but readily admit that they have not committed them to writing. Writing forces you to clarify your thinking and serves as a reminder of your objectives. Written goals will keep you on course in the midst of interruptions and distractions. Using a RAC Goal Planning Sheet© is an excellent mechanism to commit goals to writing and create a working document that will provide the focus necessary for success.

Working through the Goal Planning worksheet provokes the thought necessary to identify the obstacles, brainstorm all of the possible solutions, and then identify the required action steps needed to accomplish the goal. The components of the Goal Planning sheet are the bricks of your success. What provides the mortar to hold the bricks in place? All goals must have an overall target date with time specific action steps.

All the identified action steps need to be transferred to your personal planning system, which will provide a constant reminder of your plans and objectives. As you arrange your actions steps and timetable, remember that the goals are personal and you are in control. If for some reason you miss a designated date, examine the situation and find out why. There is always the possibility of unforeseen circumstances. You have the ability and authority to change a timeline. It is your blueprint.

However, those time sensitive dates will hold you accountable to yourself and others, which allows you to accomplish more sooner. Be careful to make sure that you are moving dates based on valid reasons and choices. Do not let fear, procrastination, and frustration (common, everyday occurrences) get in the way. The potential rewards of accomplishing your goal or the possible consequences of not accomplishing a goal should always be in the forefront of your mind to help you make the appropriate time sensitive decisions.

You are the architect of your life—personally and professionally. If you are dissatisfied with your results, take the initiative to change them. Take charge of your life and create the results that you’ve always dreamed of.

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