“Creating is not magic, but work” — Kevin Ashton
When I was approached to share my thoughts on the subject Heart, I immediately thought about what gets in my way when trying to fulfill my heart’s desire. I often have a clear vision-I know what I want and how I want it to look; but the clarity breaks down as I move back from my desired vision to the present reality. Goals which were once motivating start to feel too far away, too hard, or worse-lost in a sea of jumbled thoughts and ambitions.
You know the feeling: you don’t even know if you’ve reached your goal because you don’t really know what your goal is.
This is an action based article to help you connect your goals to achievable tasks, ask the right questions, reflect, then plan.
Let’s talk about the logistics of creating the path: I’ve included a handful of questions and examples which I often use to prompt myself to build and stay committed to better planning models.
_“Vision” _is a broad term with billions of resources about how you can create a vision plan for yourself. This isn’t a new concept, but I hope the way I talk, examples I give, and outline will spark inspiration to get in touch with what you want.
Every day, I work with clients who let me hold them accountable to their vision. For every decision these entrepreneurs make, in careers, relationships, and health, I encourage them to ask this question of themselves: “Will this push to me reach my goal?”
Let’s think of your career goals as a vacation (ha!). When you have a limited amount of time and money, you want to know where you’re going and what you’re doing to plan the exact adventure you want. Let’s say a modest budget, staying off the usual tourist path & eating amazing food were your three big goals.
No plan or adventure is without its pivots. Sleeping accommodations throw in an extra fee, or you have a fancy meal that wasn’t on the original itinerary. These “setbacks” adjust the budget (you stayed in a beautiful town you didn’t know existed!) and if each decision is made with the end goal in mind (the food was recommended by every local!) — you’re on the right path.
Walking away from an adventure with a sense of accomplishment, knowing you’ve made decisions with your best self in mind, is priceless. From the outside it may look like a typical vacation, but you know that everything you did fit within your mission.
…If each decision is made with the end goal in mind…— you’re on the right path. Walking away from an adventure with a sense of accomplishment, knowing you’ve made decisions with your best self in mind, is priceless.
You are used to taking action. You’re a high-achiever with goals in mind. But you want more. Bigger! Broader! But stop and ask yourself this: what is your purpose? To be the best copywriter anyone has ever worked with? To project manage your clients like a rock star? To take the best pet portraits the world has ever seen?
First, ask yourself what you do for others, why you do it, and refine it into a mission statement. A mission statement may sound like a big, scary, or pointless exercise. It’s not. Writing out who you are now and where you’d like to go and what you want is not pointless. Assignment One (of three): The questions below are simple. Take 10-30 minutes on each without censoring or editing:
- What do you do?
- What happened to get you where you are now?
- What do you like about what you do?
- Why do you do it?
- Who do you do it for?
Like you, your mission statement grows and evolves…The specifics shift and change as life and your business grow. Regardless of its changing nature, it will be your guide.
Navigating Your Goals: past, present, future
To navigate to your future goals it is deeply important to understand what you wanted in the past, how you attempted to get what you wanted, and whether or not you got what you wanted. Knowing what worked and what didn’t, and understanding why, is the key to better planning and outcomes.
Remember: this is about all of your goals, both business and personal. Your business is connected to your life (and at times it might be your life) so don’t throw out a goal because you don’t see the direct connection to your career yet.
Assignment Two: Understand all facets of your life and career and be OK with doing what it takes to get the results you want.
Knowing where you’ve been is the start to understanding what’s actually possible (don’t skip this exercise). Answer the following (again, unfiltered):
- What were your financial goals last year?
- What was your financial outcome last year?
- What happened?
What do you want to be different this time around?
What were your creative goals last year?
- What were your creative outcomes last year?
- What happened?
- What do you want to be different this upcoming year?
- If you could do ANYTHING, what would it be?
You have uncovered who you are, who you want to be, and the goals associated with all of it. Now let’s make a path toward achieving your goals. Goals can be daunting and like most things in life, small, actionable sub-task will be the way to success. I lean heavily on questions (on top of questions) to inspire strategy and creativity.
Assignment Three (of three!): Follow this outline for each “goal.” The examples below are from my 2016/17 path:
- Reformat the goal in the structure of a question. Ex: How can I increase one-on-one clients from 5 per quarter to 10?
- Create sub-questions to help pull out the specific tasks involved. ex: How will I fit each new client into my schedule? How will they hear about me? Some answers: Content, press, clear outline of values, on-boarding systems.
- From your answers you will start to uncover the tasks, creating smaller goals so you can chip away at the big ex: Research client systems that will help onboard 10 new clients a quarter. Ex: Plan website updates.
- Where do these tasks fit into your life? ex: to reach new clients, I need to create content for distribution. I have a goal of two articles per quarter for partners and 2 blog posts per month. I input the writing, research, and editing time into my project management system (google calendar).
Remember: Heart work is hard.
These assignments are time consuming and difficult. They take time away from the work that gives you instant gratification (money), but I know from experience that by making a plan and setting goals, and breaking them down into achievable action items, will give you the confidence and the structure to make headway in your life and career.
I’d love to hear about your goals. We will talk about your pathways to goals, how the goals relate to your success, or aspects of these assignments that have you a little bit stuck. I am giving discounted consulting sessions through December 15th, 2016 to Yellow Co. Blog readers. Sign up here to receive your discount code . You can also sign up for my newsletter to receive more articles like this and stay in the loop about workshops.