Thursday, April 9, 2015

Lighting the Path: Energize Your Goals

Let's try an exercise in imagination. Picture yourself caught in a foggy night a long way from your destination. You can make your way to your destination even you can see only a few feet ahead.

But who would want to? The trip is easier and more fun if your vision is unrestricted and your tank is full of gas. This is true for any goal you might have, so let's clear the fog and light the path to an important goal of your choice.

Picking Your Route

Start by clearly defining your goal. Put it in writing and make sure it is SMART.

S - Specific
M - Meaningful
A - Actionable
R - Realistic
T - Time bound

Make Sure You Have Fuel

A car on a trip needs gas. Your goal needs motivation. Although things can happen to get in your way,most goals that fail do so because you don't have a sufficiently big reason. If you get a flat tire on the way to a casual lunch, you cancel the lunch. If it happens when going to your wedding, you fix the tire or find another ride.

Take time to record the reasons for your goal Here are a couple techniques that may help.

The Six Thinking Hats

In his book Six Thinking Hats Edward deBono recommends brainstorming by focusing on six different points of view (hats) one at a time.

White pure facts
Red emotions (how you feel)
Black worst case (possible negative consequences to avoid
Yellow best case (what would wild success look like?)
Green Out of box thinking
Blue Management and mediating the other points of view.

Take each point of view one at a time. What reasons come up?

Try Different Shoes

Our goals compete with each other and with all the roles (shoes) we choose to wear. We might be home owners, spouses, lovers, parents, breadwinners, and many other things above and beyond any formal job. Sometimes we set a goal based on one role but motivation comes from another.

One man told a story of his home being heated by a radiator that heated the wall but not the house. As a home owner, he set a goal to upgrade to central heating but no progress was made. Then one evening, he noticed his wife covered to her chin in blankets. "Would I see you naked more often if the room were warm?" He asked. She nodded yes and two weeks later the job was done.

Five Whys

We all learned at age 4 that asking why can be an endless loop, but going a few rounds van help us get to our real motivation. Going through a why loop five times will get you a long way.

Make Your Plans

Every goal needs a plan. For simple goals, a checklist on the back of an envelope may be more than enough. More complex goals may call for one or more projects, each calling for a plan of its own. If you can get this down to physical actions, so much the better.

I will be leading a workshop,on this material at the Toastmasters District 40 conference in Cincinatti on April 18. Check it out here:

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