Strategies for Success in 2015
goals personal growth strategy
Your Mission, should you choose to accept it...
Figuring out your life's mission is a bit beyond the scope of this particular post, but before setting your goals for 2015 and planning out how you're going to get there, you need to have a mission in mind, either one you've already uncovered, or a general direction.
It usually takes the form of something you'd like to be remembered for, but it can also be something more straightforward. Here are some ideas, and examples to give you an idea of scope:
- Help people live their greatest potential to become heroes in their lives and communities (my mission with this blog)
- Create the most beautiful, user-friendly technology possible (Steve Jobs', based on what I gleaned from reading his biography)
- Bring exotic, fascinating cultures to people who might not see them, through your travels, art, and photography
- Visit every country in the world (actually a shorter-term mission because it has a definite end-state)
- Create enough wealth to provide comfortably for your family and send your kids to college (a subgoal of the larger mission of raising a family in a particular way)
- Design innovative, creative games that bring people together while helping them learn valuable skills and ways of thinking (a game company I'd like to create one day)
For some help figuring it out, try the Perfect Day exercise.
If you still have no idea, try to come up with a smaller goal that isn't a life's mission. Some questions to help:
- Where do you want to be living?
- What job would you like to be doing?
- Are there any skills you'd like to have?
- Is there some physical accomplishment you'd like to strive towards?
Once you've re-focused your mission or picked a short-term mission for 2015, you can move on to setting your strategy.
A Good Strategy
Even if you have the greatest execution on Earth, it won't count for much more than experience and adventure if you're executing the wrong thing.
On the other hand, having excellent, well-thought-out goals that move you in the right direction is essential, because even if you are making slow progress with lots of failures, mistakes, and missteps, you're at least moving in the right direction.
As they say, every step, no matter how small, moves you in the direction of your goals, as long as you're facing the right way.
But a key element of a good strategy is prioritizing your goals. In chess, for example, basic strategy operates in the following order (according to what's I've learned at Chesscademy.com)
- Develop your pieces. Get into a position that allows you to move and utilize your bishops and knights to maximum effect, while creating space with your pawns to maneuver.
- Control the center. Somewhat interchangeable with step 1.
- Win material.
- Checkmate the enemy King (also the mission).
If you have an opportunity for an early checkmate, go for it, but putting too many resources into it early, you can undermine your position and cost yourself the game (at least, that's how it works for me most of the time).
So, in terms of setting a goal for 2015, once you've identified your mission (capture the enemy king), you need to figure out what goals will get you there.
- Start by writing down all the things you need to do toaccomplish your mission.
- This can include things you must learn, people you must meet, experience you need, and actions to take
- Don't worry about order. Just write everything that comes to mind
- Once you have the list, go through it and ask yourself, "Can I do thisright now, with the resources, time, confidence, and skills I already have?"
- If the answer is yes, it's a task you can start with.
- If the answer is no, figure out which task it relies on, and start making a chain.
- For the task you assigned it to, ask the same question.
- Continue in this way until you've found one or two starting tasks with the chains that build off of them.
And...that's strategy in a nutshell: figuring out what needs to happen, when, in order to make sure the mission succeeds.
The last step of your 2015 Strategy for Being Awesome is to break down the events in your strategy to specific goals and then setting timelines for them.
I'm not going to go into SMART goals. Instead, I prefer a much simpler method: state goals as conscious actions.
Example: You cannot lose weight. You have no conscious control over what your body does with its calories. What you CAN do is exercise a certain number of minutes per week and eat or not eat certain foods. Those are actions you can take that will influence what your body does with its calories.
For each of the events that needs to happen in your strategy, come up with specific actions you can take to make them a reality and choose a timeframe in which you will take those actions.
A good start is to plan three months of actions.
There's a whole literature on goal-setting, but I maintain that goals are only as good as the strategy they serve and the mission that underlies them. If you have a good mission and a decent strategy, you'll make the goals happen, regardless of how finite, time-defined, actionable, or SMART they are. If you have poor strategy, you'll lack clarity, and if you have no mission, you'll lack motivation.
That said, the world of productivity and goal-setting has a lot to offer in crafting goals in a way that helps you do them.
What's your mission for 2015?
What needs to happen for that mission to become a reality?
What actions will you take in the next three months to start moving in that direction?
Happy New Year! It's going to be a great one.
- K.C. ***