If you don’t know where you’re going, you can never get lost. Herb Cohen
When vacationing, the lack of a defined destination can set the stage for a grand adventure. In our work lives, however, not knowing where you’re going usually spells disaster. How can you best meet your goals and avoid the aimless wandering that wastes everyone’s time and money?
Think achieve, then do. Before you get down to action, focus on what it is you want to achieve. Don’t think about what you want to do, define what you want to accomplish. Ask yourself these questions:
- Why are we doing this? What is our purpose for doing this work?
- What result are we trying to achieve? What will change, and how? What will be created or eliminated?
- When this is done, what will success look like? What impact will it have? On whom and on what?
Think achieve, then do may not come naturally. There are some common barriers to focusing first on what we want to accomplish, including:
Task orientation. You arrive at work and immediately get busy. You check things off your to-do list. It is all too easy to get through an entire work day without thinking about what you are trying to achieve. Don’t take for granted that you know what results and impact you’re striving for. Take some time each day, preferably first thing, to zero in on “think achieve.”
Fuzzy goals. You may think you know what you’re trying to accomplish and why. But do others share the same picture? Talk about it to ensure that you and your teammates have a common vision around what will be achieved – a shared definition of success. Pretend you’re traveling to the future and that you’ve accomplished your mission. What does the world look like? Who or what has changed? What spin-off effects can you imagine?
I “should.” Think achieve, then do requires focus and a direct connection between what you want to accomplish and what you think and do each day. When you say, “I really should…(exercise daily, call my customers more frequently, take my son to dinner…), do you really have any intention of doing it? If so, do it. If not, “I should” is a distraction from a laser-like focus on what you really want to get done.
Lack of realism. If your picture of success is complex, break it into discrete, manageable chunks that you can accomplish over time.
Lost focus. Use reminders that help you keep your eye on the ball. Post a list of what you want to achieve in a spot where you’ll see it regularly. Find a meaningful picture that represents what you want to accomplish. Create a theme song. Set up automated reminders on your phone or computer. The key is to put your desired results front and center to keep you on track.
Not doing. It’s one thing to get pumped up about what you want to achieve. It’s another to hunker down and get it done. Resist the urge to do it all yourself. Assemble others with a vested interest and divide duties. Decide how you’ll move forward, monitor progress and hold one another accountable.
Charting a course to a future reality can be exhilarating. It also requires a tolerance for risk, since the journey to your ultimate destination will include some surprises. Mark Twain said to succeed in life you need two things – ignorance and confidence. You may not know exactly what lies ahead, but start your trip today by figuring out what is you really want to achieve. Then get packing and enjoy the ride.
Have a question or want some input from Humanergy about this topic? Contact us and we’ll get right back to you!