Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Next "Goal" Post

For many, coming up with the Grand Plan -- a big, over-arching goal -- isn't a problem. In fact, a lot of people (myself included) can easily come up with a plethora of solidly good, important, and necessary goals. For us, stating what we want to do isn't difficult at all. What can rob us of achieving our dreams is deciding how we're going to do it.

In other words, the end is in sight. We just don't know what road we're going to take to get there.

In his book, Geoff dedicates an entire chapter to goal-setting. While at first, such a thing may seem esoteric or out of place in a book about improving one's riding, the reader very quickly realizes how important the chapter is. Because without knowing what you want to achieve -- and having a plan -- you are literally just riding your horse around in circles.

One of the things that Geoff suggests you do is take your Ultimate Goal and determine the first milestone you need to reach on your way. If you want to ride in a major invitational horse show, for instance, figure out which shows you'll need to qualify in. Then work only on doing well at the first one. That becomes your new focus. When you have passed that milestone, then you can set your sights on the next thing that has to happen on the way toward your Ultimate Goal.

In the world of writing, if your Ultimate Goal is to have your novel become a bestseller, you must first find a publisher for it. (Actually, you must first have a novel. Really. First things first.) Once you have a publisher, the next milestone is to plan a marketing campaign specifically targeted at increasing sales at a particular place for a particular time frame. When a solid plan has been made, the next milestone is to implement it.

The smaller goals along the way prepare the foundation that you will need to climb upon to reach your dreams.

Teleseminar guru Alex Mandossian (Whose class is changing my life. Literally.) also believes in breaking larger goals down into smaller, more manageable bite-sized pieces. He advocates articulating your Ultimate Goal for a 12 month period. Then he suggests that you divide the goal into 12 parts. Get out a calendar and actually come up with a plan for how you will achieve one part each month. If you follow your plan, at the end of the year, you will have met your goal.

Now, the whole "break the goal into small pieces and then plan how you will master each piece" philosophy that both Geoff and Alex espouse is pure common sense. It also sounds deceptively easy. But it's taken me the better part of the last 4 days to actually do just that for all the things I want to accomplish this next year.

Stating the things I want to do is easy. Looking at a calendar and coming up with an actual, honest-to-God plan of what I will do was much more difficult than I imagined. But it's done now. And I can comfortably say that going through the exercise has cleared away a lot of the haze that hung between where I am and where I want to be. "Oohh! So THAT'S how to get there from here!"

I challenge you, while the year is still young, to think about what you want to have accomplished by next year this time. Analyze it. Determine what you'll have to do in order to achieve it. Get a calendar out and make a plan -- a do-able plan. Then commit yourself to doing only what's on your plate for January. It's much more plausible and possible (not to mention a whole lot less intimidating) than looking the Ultimate Goal in the eye and aiming for it.

Good luck! And here's to a success-filled year!