Answer these three questions:

1. Do you have a plan in place to reach your goals?
2. If so, do you know where you are right now within that plan?
3. Where do you want to be goal wise next year at this time?

How did that work for you? If you are happy with your answers, bravo! If you have some doubts about the goal and planning to reach them process, here are some suggestions that might help you be able to finally break that barrier.

You know, everyone has goals. And success requires goals. Most of the time they are in reality just wishes and dreams because you haven’t yet found a realistic and successful way of making them into reality. You can reach any goal no matter how great if you are both willing and able to do the work. Until you discover what works specifically for you in building this process, you may find your interest, motivation and enthusiasm starting to wane after just a few weeks or months of trying. You have gone through the motions of what has been suggested to you by others and in reality makes no sense to you so you just give up.

Your plan of action has to be a process that makes sense to you that you know you can sustain and see through. And it has to be managed on your own timetable. The process then becomes feasible. It is in reality just a way for you to check in from time to time (usually daily) to see if you are moving in the direction you want to be going by being able to measure whether you are getting the outcome you have been looking for. There is always room for making adjustments as you go. Nothing is written in stone and change happens. However, success doesn’t happen by accident, it is brought about with a well thought out plan that you can easily adhere to.

None of us are internally hard wired in exactly the same way, we don’t have the same behavior patterns or core beliefs, so it follows that there is no one plan that works perfectly for everyone. You have to weed through many different ideas and take the bits and pieces that work when building your own procedure and process. When that happens, you will find that you are motivated and excited about the possibilities of your future. You can finally stop spinning your wheels and actually build a user friendly plan of action that works just for you.

“You can create the energy to turn your dreams into reality by knowing what to say when you talk to yourself.”
~ Shad Helmstetter

Fear of failure is The “Grand Daddy” of them all when it comes to being stuck. The fundamental question is not whether you should accept failure, but how you choose to deal with it. You have no choice but to expect it as a temporary condition on the path way of progress. Far too many dreams have suffocated and died because of it. You, like many others may take what seems like the easy way out by trying to do what someone else is doing, not having clarified your reasons why or defined what success means to you personally. Squandering your precious time, energy and monies by trying to copy what someone else is doing instead of making your own path, is a sure fire reason for losing motivation and feeing insecure and afraid. You are doomed before you begin because you are operating on someone else’s definition of how to get where you want to go. When that occurs values are sure to be in conflict and progress is short- circuited. It is then hard to keep your focus which is a key component in becoming successful. Rather than doing an excellent job at a few chosen goals you spread your energies over a vast terrain denying reality for whatever reason, which devalues the integrity of the information you do have, thus ensuring failure and diffuses what matters most, reaching your goals. Fear resides where knowledge does not exist; the more you know about anything the less intimidated you feel. Replace your fears with knowledge and watch your performance leap.

Try this:

  • List everything that could possibly prevent you from achieving this goal.
  • List everything, including time, energy, money, and sacrifices that you can anticipate having to make.
  • Is this worth doing?
  • Remember, it’s far easier to deny reality than it is to accept it.

Your mind while blessed with permanent memory is cursed with lousy recall. People forget things. Written goals clarify thinking, objectify their potential, and reinforce commitment. And by maintaining your commitment to your commitment you eliminate any wiggle room for excuses. That’s personal integrity!

You know that goals once out of sight soon become goals out of mind! So, write down everything you would like to accomplish not only in your career but your lifetime as well. Some of you will do well with creating a random list, others might want to try mind mapping. Once you have your list in place, you must be very specific and crystal clear with the details of what your dreams and goals will look, sound and feel like when they are achieved. Through this process you will begin to see yourself as worthy of achieving these goals and help strengthen your Personal Brand. Be sure that what you want to accomplish is in sync with the feelings you sense inside concerning the goals you have written down. They have to be realistic and you have to believe you are ready and equipped to receive them, so this can not be just a wish list.

Tony Buzan in the 1960’s popularized this very old system. This is another process available for gathering information that will help in creating real goals and putting a plan of action in place. It is a way for some to be able to create, record and organize their thoughts all at once. Here’s how it works. Write down and circle your major goal/subject in the middle of a blank piece of page. Then as thoughts come to mind as to how you might want to accomplish this goal/subject, what resources you already have, people you know that might help you, write them randomly wherever you want on the page around the central point. When you are done, all you have to do is connect the dots. You start by noticing what items might be related to one another. You then circle them using a specific colored pencil/pen and tie them together with lines. You do this until all of your present ideas have been tied up. It is quite easy to then put them in logical order. As you work your plan, each of the steps and detailed tasks you have put in place might inspire new thoughts and interesting ideas you can then add to the appropriate place within your timeline to accomplish your goal.

Details – Details – Details – Being Specific
If you want the best odds of realizing a goal, get specific. A general goal would be “Get in better shape.” A specific goal would be “Walk to work and back each day, eat smaller portions, cut out wheat and fat.” Before you can even think about setting a successful goal you have to answer these questions:

  • Who is going to be involved in this process?
  • What do you truthfully want to accomplish?
  • Where will you be doing most of the work and is it organized space?
  • How long do you believe it will take you realistically to complete your goal or project?
  • Are there restrictions and limits involved? If so list them.
  • Why are you pursuing this specific goal?
  • Are the benefits, intentions and purpose of accomplishing this goal real or a fantasy?

“As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Tell Others
Letting others know specifically what your goals are and your tentative timeline to accomplishing them, helps keep you motivated and honest about pursuing them. Those you told about your goals will want to check in with you to see how you are doing or you might find that they become resources to help you reach your goals.

Rehearsing THE OUTCOME
Success is a choice. You must decide what you want, why you want it, and how you plan to achieve it. No one else can, will, or should do that for you. Here is a great tool that will help keep you focused and motivated to do the work. Write down in great detail and then rehearse in your imagination several times each day, just how having achieved your goals will look, sound, feel, taste, smell and be like. Use all your senses when doing this exercise and be very specific. Rehearsing the outcome in this way will help bring your goals to mind more often and help keep you on track to achieving them. It fills you with confidence while motivating you with a real desire to reach the scene you have been rehearsing in your imagination.

“Habits are like comfortable beds: easy to get into but difficult to get out of. ”
~ Denis Waitley

Build Up or Break Down GOALS
The process is a simple one, but like most new things may not be easy in the beginning. So make a pact with yourself to at least get the beginnings of this plan of action down on paper. Then perhaps put it away for a day and when you take it out again, look it over and see if any new thoughts or ideas come to mind that are worthy of adding to your plan. Then start working your plan. Here we go!

  • Breaking Down the Overview into Details – If you see only the overview/big picture and need some help finding how to break it down into smaller doable bites here is one suggestion.
  • Pick a smaller goal to start with so you can get the hang of this process, say something you want to accomplish by the end of the month. Write down at the top of a legal size piece of paper the small goal you want to ultimately accomplish. Next make a list of everything you can think of that relates to accomplishing that overview or goal or you can mind mapping if this process works better for you. Next prioritize your list. The final step is the same for either Building Up or Breaking Down goals so read on.
  • Building Up Goals the Details to the Overview
    Can you remember having already accomplished some small task (goal), like finding out about an audition, getting the necessary materials together to enter and having completed all the action required to make it happen. Take apart the time frame in which these activities took place and recognize the sequence of tasks and events that had to happen that allowed you to ultimately participate in the audition. You know how long it took you to do that process, so start writing down the steps you took and put them either on a list or you can use mind mapping. Prioritize the ideas you have come up with so far.

The next step for both systems is to create a time frame for all the in-between steps to happen. This is where knowing the person inside the singer comes into play which means don’t put more your plate than you can comfortably handle each day, week and month. Know how you work best, which specific inner systems you use which might be helpful, what motivates you- the carrot or the stick, etc. There are no two people alike, so you can build your own unique structure and time table for accomplishing what you want to happen.

Creating a plan of action is knowing where you are now, where you want to go and an estimated time of arrival for completion. It’s no different than being able to read a road map when taking a trip. You start from point A and want to go to point M. So you find both of those points and then figure out what and how you want to pack for the trip to get from point A to M and which roads you want to take to get there. You are in charge and know whether it’s a more straight shot with little leisure time or vise versa. Are you the straight shooter traveling only on the major highways staying in Motel 8’s on your trip from A to M or do you prefer a more relaxed pace so you take the back roads and stay in B & B’s making the journey from A to M more stress-free and interesting? You know the story of the tortoise and the hair – well they both reached the finish line and did it there own way. We all have a particular way of moving through time that works best for just us. So keep YOUR pace. It’s different from the pace of others. On the other side of the coin, don’t feel guilty about moving ahead of some of your contemporaries. There is no right or wrong, better or worse, it just is.

“One cannot manage too many affairs: like pumpkins in the water, one pops up while you try to hold down the other.”
~ Chinese Proverb

There are a plethora of ways to create a structure to take you where you want to go or maybe you don’t even need a big, scary structure. You just need to figure out what suits you. If you’re so inclined, here are several actual structures to hang your plan of action on that you might want to try out. Or construct your very own. It’s more about having it work for you rather then having the perfect structure. I sometimes think this is where the biggest problem lies that keeps you from following through to reach your goals. So again I say it doesn’t matter what the structure looks like as long as it works for you.

Family Tree System
Have you done any genealogy tracing your family tree? Do you remember the structure of how the family tree is notated? There are usually two styles. One way of doing this is to put the Great Grandparents names on a horizontal line at the top of a page of paper. That is balanced on a vertical line coming down to another horizontal line with several more vertical lines drawn down from that with their children’s names on the next horizontal line. Under that more vertical lines for each of their children, etc. I think you can understand where I am going with this. It’s kind of like a pyramid. This can also be turned on its side to stretch out in a horizontal fashion, or upside down. Try all directions to see if one works for you. You can start with either the overview or the details building in the appropriate direction. Both ways should result in the smallest elements being the daily “to do” list for that week.

The List
Maybe it would be easier to write down your big goal on a piece of paper with your prioritized list underneath. Each week pick the last item on the list and create a weekly “to do” list to accomplish what it will take to get you to the next item on your prioritized list and so on, until you reach your ultimate goal (By the way, the daily “to do” list usually looks something like this: buy toilet paper, 11am conference cal – work, pick up 10 flat rate envelopes plus buy stamps for mailing out resumes, buy milk, kitty litter, bread, pick up dry cleaning, etc.) And if you find new ideas, someone suggests something that makes sense or steps just pop up as you go, simply put them where you think they would have to be within your time frame to move you on to the next item on your prioritized list. This way you get to take things off your list as you get them accomplished.

As you make the first draft of your plan of action you will start finding new ideas, resources and information that can be added to your plan along the way. It is a process and a journey, not just a means to an end so be prepared for altering it as you work it. When this process is in place, you will notice that your mind tends to be consistently drawn to it as you move through each day. It helps keep you on track, focused and moving forward. Also know that what one person swears works for them may not work for the next person.

The journey is really the best part of reaching any goal which in and of itself, can often times seem anticlimactic. So put a new goal into place just before you finish the current one. And you can run different goals for different parts of your life simultaneously so you are always inspired.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”
~ Helen Keller

Be grown up, which means, be independent, take responsibility for your actions, know what goals you want to achieve and how you want to live your life to make that happen. Be awake and alert so you can to begin see previously overlooked opportunities that will bring you closer to achieving of your goals. Always find the best method for you to achieve what you want. If you want to succeed you have to step out and take risks. Trying doesn’t count. As Yoda said, “There is no trying, either do or don’t.”

Pursuing your dreams and goals might cause some people to be envious or fearful that they’re “losing” the former you. This can cause them to be critical of your new aspirations and plans. They become “dream stealers.” Develop the tenacity to stand up for what you want out of life. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them.

Ciao until next time. Avanti! Carol

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