By David Muturi
I love plans, and firmly believe that regardless of what you choose to do in life, the starting point is managing yourself. To do this effectively, you need a personal plan. Such a plan hinges on the basics of what you seek in life. Once you know what you want, you must define the limits that you would like to stretch yourself to in order to realize your dreams.
When you have a plan, you are unlikely to waste crucial time by placing your life on autopilot. Indeed, most people live on autopilot. Life just happens to them, for years on end. They have no specific objective in life; beyond the vague notion that they want to be happy. Such a person will drift from one day to the next, without any sense of purpose or direction. If you are like this, could it be that you have had narrow short-term goals that didn’t go beyond temporary self-grandeur?
Envision the success
Success does not just happen. It does not matter how many excuses you hear from some people. If you cannot visualize yourself holding that position, you are least likely to get it. If by some twist of fate you happen to get there, you will not keep it for long, because you will not have cultivated what it takes to keep it. Start, therefore, to develop your grand plan for success. And if you have already begun, stay focused and keep going.
Our plan helps us to make choices that move us closer to our goals. The critical thing is that our long-term goals should be realistic. They should be affordable and have reasonable ways, means and deadlines. This could be a career goal, an education goal, a relationship goal or a financial goal.
It helps to identify what needs to be done to achieve your long-term goal. This will help you prioritize steps and identify intermediate goals. Intermediate goals comprise every step needed to accomplish the long-term goal. Each intermediate goal has its own schedule of steps, costs and timeframe.
You also need to know in what order the various intermediate goals will be accomplished. This becomes a kind of critical path analysis. Your intermediate goals help you to easily identify the short-term goals. These must necessarily feed into your intermediate goals. Finally, all these goals collectively deliver your big dream.
Is it all that smooth sailing? Of course not. Circumstances change over time, sometimes all the time. The assumptions we made several years ago may no longer be tenable, for new circumstances have come into the picture. They dictate that we change our plans accordingly. It is important then that you review your goals every so often, to align them with a changing environment.
This will help you stay focused by keeping your long-term goals aligned to the current circumstances. If you do not recognize that circumstances will change and that you should change with them, you are likely to give up and blame your failure to the changed environment. Yet the reality is that you should have read the signs of the times and adjusted accordingly.
I have often been reminded of Steve Goodier, the author of Lessons of the Turtle. It was Goodier who said, “Those who overcome great challenges will be changed, and often in unexpected ways. For our struggles enter our lives as unwelcome guests, but they bring valuable gifts. And once the pain subsides, the gifts remain. These gifts are life’s true treasures, bought at a great price, but cannot be acquired in any other way.”