Having just spent the last two weeks on vacation and thinking about all of the planning that went into our trips, I kept thinking about how much more time we need to spend planning our lives. Most people spend more time designing their vacation than they do their life, and yet they are unhappy with the life that comes by default.
If you spend the time to decide what you really want out of life and design a plan to get it – you will begin to live on purpose and will be amazed at the results.
To design your life – you need to spend some time setting goals.
Most people do nothing more than make a wish with their desires. They think of something that they want, never write it down, make a plan on how to achieve it, and it becomes a fleeting thought.
A wish becomes a dream when you identify why you want it. A dream is a powerful thing because it is personal and internal. People don’t often share their dreams because they really mean something to them and make them vulnerable. In other words they have substance. It is no longer a fleeting thought because it is tied into strong desires in your heart. A dream is something you long for, something you ponder, and something that has true significance in your life.
Yes, a dream is a powerful thing, but a dream only becomes a true goal when you develop a plan to achieve it. A dream put into action becomes a true goal because a goal needs three things:
Vision, Mission, and Strategy
Vision Provides a Picture – answering What?
Mission Provides Purpose – answering Why?
Strategy Provides a Plan – answering How?
A true goal requires that you identify what you want, feel a deep sense of why you want it and then develop a plan as to how you will achieve it.
Everything in this world is created twice. First we create it mentally and then we create it physically. The first thing we need is a vision of what we want. The word vision comes from the old Germanic word, vissen, which means I know what I see. When you have a vision you have a clear picture of what you want. You can literally see it in your minds eye.
A mission is a specific task which a person or group adopts as their main purpose. When your dream takes on a sense of mission, it has meaning and significance to you because you have a strong “Why” driving you. It is important to tie an emotional anchor into your goal because there are going to be tough days when you will ask yourself if it is worth it. If you don’t believe in it enough, or have a strong enough reason to keep going, you will never achieve your goal. Identify why it is you want to accomplish your goal. Dive into that why. Feel it. Make it real. What will you get when you realize your goal? How will you feel when you accomplish it? How will it make you better?
When you know what you want and why you want it, you need to develop a strategy on how to get it. Many people find this process overwhelming, not knowing exactly where to start. To make this process simple, we’ve broken it down to four questions.
So how do you develop your strategy? Regardless of what your goal is there are four simple questions you need to ask yourself to simply and easily develop a plan to achieve your desire. They are:
Who has done it?
How did they do it?
What are the obstacles?
What are the solutions?
Question 1 – Who has done it?
The old saying goes – Success Leaves Clues. Whatever your goal is there is someone who has done what you want to do. As you identify that person they become a mentor for you to not only show you how to do it but to also increase your belief that it is possible. If they could do it, you can do it.
Question 2 – How did they do it?
Once you identify who your mentor is, the more important part is identifying how they accomplished what you set out to do. What were the steps they took? What were the things that worked and the things that didn’t? How long did it take them? What did they have to sacrifice to accomplish the goal? Are you willing to make the same types of sacrifices?
Question 3 – What are the Obstacles?
Now that you have seen how this was done before, you need to identify the obstacles. More particularly here, you want to identify what the obstacles will be for you. Be honest with yourself and recognize what will be the stumbling blocks that you will need to overcome. Only spend enough time on this question to identify the obstacles then once you have them written down, move on to question 4. In other words spend 10% of your time on the obstacles and 90% on the solutions.
Question 4 – What are the solutions?
With a list of obstacles in hand, one by one decide on a solution for each. Be creative but realistic to develop a step-by-step plan that will allow you to overcome the setbacks and achieve your goal. Your plan may differ from your mentor’s path because some of your obstacles may be different than he/she faced, but his path will give you a template to follow.
These four steps are simple but if you spend the time to answer each you will have a clear strategy to achieve your goal. Try it. The process has worked for me time and time again.
This goal setting process isn’t the only one out there – but it is simple and straightforward. As you set goals for your life, you will begin to live by design and to more fully discover and live your purpose.