“BEGIN WITH THE end in mind” is Stephen Covey’s second habit in his groundbreaking book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It is the concept of seeing the end-result of your vision and working backwards till you get to where you are today and can see the steps necessary to get there. He tells the story of when President John F. Kennedy made the statement that the United States would be the first nation to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade — and the scientists said, “First, let’s see how we get them back.” A key result, wouldn’t you think?
I always wondered something about learning the game of golf, in which the object of the game is to take a stick and hit a little white ball with that stick, into a cup, located in middle of a nicely groomed piece of grass, 400 yards away. I wondered, if you started at the cup and practiced going backwards from the cup might you be able to get a “hole in one” every time? Now that’s a vision!
Seeing the steps you need to take to achieve your vision is seeing the goals within your goals. Every goal is made up of little goals or steps that I call your CAN-DO goals: Your CAN-DO goals are:
C for continuous, they are a lifelong commitment.
A for actionable, they are task driven and move you toward to your vision.
N for necessary, they are what you need to do.
D for daily, they are done today, not tomorrow.
And O for obedient to the process that allsuccessful people have gone through.
Your CAN-DO goals are those goals you always do. They are the steppingstones that pave the way to your larger goals. Then on to your vision.
For example, if you want to get into shape or give up 15 pounds to the universe. (I don’t call it losing weight. If you lose something you usually try to find it. Your keys, your wallet, your cell phone. I don’t want to find my weight back, so I say, “I am giving it up.” All 15 pounds to the universe. I don’t want it back!)So you set up a program to run three miles a day for the next 90 days. Consume only 1,200 calories per day and avoid going to parties where you may fall prey to junk food and cocktails. Is this a CAN-DO goal? Or will you miss some days of training or want to go to a party? The goal of a goal is to succeed. Not to set yourself up to fail. CAN-DO goals are those things that you must do daily to get you to the top of “Mt. My Vision.”
Achieving goals on a regular basis is what makes your world go around. However, if I were a goal, I would be suffering from low self-esteem. Here is something I overheard a goal say in a therapy session:
“Everyone talks about me in groups, they make me bigger than life, they promise me all kinds of things and enumerate all the steps they will take to help me be accomplished. Then after three or four weeks, they just let me down. They toss me aside and say they will get back to me tomorrow, but they don’t. Maybe the next day, but they don’t.”
Goals are the most abused and seldom-used success creators available to mankind. So how is it that we neglect our goals after such a short period-of-time?
I have seen more ideas on achieving goals and have read more books on goals than I care to admit. I have tried all the acronyms: SMART goals, STAR goals, RIVAS goals. I have read Goals for Dummies, Living Without Goalsand so on. In the end, I have discovered that goals are simply the rungs of your vision ladder. Just as you climb a ladder to clean your gutters or to reach the top shelf for something you need, you do it one rung at a time. Well, you use the same process in climbing to your vision.
When climbing a ladder, you never try to jump to the fourth rung do you? Of course not. Most people walk up to a ladder, grab its sides and then place one hand on the fifth rung and lift their foot to the first rung and, with one small leap of faith, they propel themselves forward and upward. You settle securely on the first rung of your journey. With that accomplished, your other hand reaches one rung up and your other foot raises to catch the second rung and, with a mighty oomph, you continue your climb.
The process continues, one step at a time until you get to your destination. And, as each rung is accomplished, you look up at your destination, and you can feel the excitement in yourself. You are getting closer and closer. You can see the end, you can see yourselfin the end.
Your vision is right in front of you and then, as if to make sure you are really accomplishing what you didn’t think you could accomplish, you turn and look down to see how far you’ve come and all of a sudden … you see how high you are. You’ve never been this high before, you’ve gone past your personal beliefs about your own abilities. Self-doubt starts to set in, fear starts to fill your nervous system and you freeze. Your distractors start to kick-in. However, you want to become bigger than your fears.
The temptation to quit is always the strongest just before you succeed. “Is this truly the right goal, do I have a Plan B, will I be able to sustain my goal?”
Yes, it’s the right goal, because you believed in it enough that you saw the vision of the goal. I say, you will see it when you believe it.
If you have a Plan B, then you are expecting Plan A to fail. To overcome obstacles, there is no Plan B, only variations of Plan A.
You don’t achieve a goal, you become the goal! It is part of your daily existence and, as you strengthen and build upon your goal, so does the sustainability of the goal.
It is with that knowledge that you continue your journey and never look down again.
Peter Remington is an executive at Houston CityBook and also a business consultant and life coach. For more information on him and his Prepare 4 More, visit here.