It’s getting easier and easier to navigate the highways and byways through the magic of GPS – Global Positioning System. The service is in your car, your phone, your tablet, your watch. You are running out of excuses for not getting to where you want to go.
Wouldn’t it be great if such a tool existed for finding your way through life’s challenges? If you’re like most ambitious people, you’re always trying to get more done. The secret is paying attention to what you want to achieve. You can devise your own GPS formula by changing the words just a bit.
G is for goals. Make a list of what you want to accomplish so it’s clear and detailed in your mind. Make sure your goals are specific, including deadlines for completion and your measurements for success. Don’t overload yourself. Concentrate on just one or two objectives at a time.
Goals give you more than a reason to get up in the morning; they are an incentive to keep you going all day. Goals tend to tap the deeper resources and draw the best out of life.
Most important, goals need to be realistic: beyond your grasp but within your reach and in the foreseeable future. Achieving goals produces significant accomplishments.
I remember a particular Peanuts cartoon in which Charlie Brown is having a bad day. He struck out for the third straight time. In disgust, he says, “Rats!”
Back in the dugout, he buries his face in his hands and laments to Lucy, “I’ll never be a big-league ballplayer. All my life, I’ve dreamed of playing in the big leagues, but I just know I’ll never make it.”
Lucy responds, “You’re thinking way too far ahead, Charlie Brown. What you need are more immediate goals.”
“Immediate goals?” asks Charlie.
“Yes,” says Lucy. “Start right now with this next inning. When you go out to pitch, see if you can walk out to the mound without falling down.”
P is for plans. Work out a general plan for achieving each goal over the long term. For instance, if you want a high-level position in your organization, your plan might include earning one or two intermediate promotions, getting additional training or volunteering for specific important committees. Each phase in your plan is a goal in itself. Approach each interim goal methodically, and follow a consistent process for completing each one.
People don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan.
Try a process that I often use: working backwards from the goal. If you want to arrive at Point X within a certain timeframe, you need to think about what you have to achieve to get there. That leads to your “S”.
S is for segments. Break your plan down into separate segments that are small enough to tackle one after another, and large enough to stretch your skills at least a little. Think in terms of what you can accomplish in a single day, where you want to be at the end of the first month and so forth. This gives you a sense of direction and also helps you monitor progress.
Your personal GPS is not an app or option. It is basically standard equipment that doesn’t cost extra. But you’ll pay dearly if you don’t activate it.
You can achieve your goals. But there’s one catch. You have to commit to actually taking those steps and staying on plan. Staying motivated can be challenging, but keep your eye on the prize. Visualize your new business card, your corner office, your dream vacation . . . whatever marks the achievement of your goal.
Otherwise, you’ll just be another Marvin. Marvin dreamed of winning the lottery. Every time there was a drawing, he prayed loud and long that he would win. One day, as Marvin was beseeching the Almighty, the clouds parted and a voice boomed out from the heavens. “Marvin, Marvin,” the voice said.
“Is that you?” gasped Marvin.
“It is I,” intoned the voice.
“Are you here to answer my prayer? Will you let me win the lottery?”
“I will,” said the voice, “but you have to meet me halfway. Marvin, buy a ticket!”
Buy your ticket. Set your goals. Follow your plans. Make your steps. Then take them out and look at them often. That’s the only way you will achieve them.
Mackay’s Moral: Life is full of detours, but you can always get back on track if you use your GPS.
Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.
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