Focus A DirectionAuthor: Catherine Pulsifer
If you start out on a journey heading towards a city to which you have never been, how do you know how to get there? You may have a vague idea of the general direction but this does not provide you with the details of how to get there.
Would You Do This?
Would you begin a trip to an unknown city without first looking at a map? Probably not. To have a goal is like having a road map. It shows you where to go, and where not to go. It provides a focus that otherwise might see you doing things that contribute nothing to your end goal.
Amazingly though, many people conduct their lives without any personal road map to success. Some people go through life seemingly wandering from one thing to the next without any direction. This is very similar to casting off in a boat but not knowing where you are heading. It is as if you launch your boat without a rudder letting the boat go where the winds dictate. In this scenario, one wind direction is just as good as any other wind; you don't know where you're going and you have no idea where you will end up.
Goals are like a map, like a boat with both a steerable rudder and an engine fully functioning so you can power the boat towards a direction to where you want to go. They help us determine where we want to end up, and give us personal direction on which to focus our energy.
Once You Decide
Once you decide what it is you want, break down each step you need to take. Each step that you want to take should be written down with details showing you exactly what it is you have to do. The next thing to do, written beside each step, is to create a time frame. This timeline is critical: it gives you a specific target date by which the step must be accomplished. If you do not add this timeline, you are not creating an accountability factor. To add to this critical factor, you may consider sharing each step, each timeline with a friend, or colleague who you ask to help you stay on track. The act of sharing this information also provides you with an incentive; in essence, you are not just making yourself accountable on your own but you are declaring to someone else that you will do what you said you were going to do by the time frame you have established.
It is important as well, before you even begin, to carefully consider each step to ensure that each step to be taken is in the right order. At the same time, it is also imperative that you determine if each step must be completed in its entirety or whether one step also hinges on completing another step simultaneously. For example, if you want to start a woodworking business you not only need to find a suitable building but you must also start to order the tools you will need. If you simply find the building first and then start to order the necessary tools, you have built in a delay in your plan because you now have to wait for the tools to arrive. This failure to start taking two actions at once causes unnecessary delays in the start-up of your business.
It is also important to build in time delays or at least have an alternate plan or step ready to implement in case you run into a road block or obstacle. In the case of the woodworker, this might happen when it takes a lot longer to find a suitable building but you have already ordered your tools. The tools may be ready for delivery or are going to be delivered before you have a building. The problem you will have, if unprepared, is that you will have no place to store the tools once they arrive. In this case, if you had planned ahead by arranging for a potential storage space, you could store the tools for a short time and thus not be forced to rent a space that could turn out to be less than ideal.
Challenges will arise no matter how detailed or prepared you are in creating your detailed action steps towards your goal. And, once you are committed to a goal, really committed, problems are short term. As you re-evaluate your progress towards your goal you will find that you can change some of the action plans to counter any challenges you are facing.
Never Lose Your Focus
With your entire "focus" on your goal, you will reach levels of achievement that you never thought possible. However, keeping focused on your end goal has its own challenges. Going back to our woodworker's example, the woodworker may have all the best intentions to start and finish the goal of establishing a woodworking shop but life's events can easily disrupt these plans.
For example, let's say that the woodworker begins to work on his action plan in the late spring. As the weeks go by, he/she is starting to hear expectations from his/her family about what they will do for their summer vacation especially prevalent if this woodworker has young children at home. And, if the family had taken vacation together for many years, a problem could easily arise. The problem is that even if the business location has been selected, all the tools set up, supplies on hand, and orders start to come in, this is not the time to leave for a vacation. Every new business demands attention, diligence, and a constant involvement. Any break in service to clients can have a devastating effect on the bottom line especially if it is the only income coming into the family.
It would be easy to forget about the demands of a new business and take that vacation but that absence could turn out to be costly. The dilemma is this: does the new owner succumb to the pressure of his family or does the owner stick to the plan? Does the owner disappoint his family or disappoint his clients? This is the point at which the owner has to weigh perseverance, dedication and smart business practice against what his family wants. Is there a solution? Probably there is.
One option the owner may consider is to try and satisfy his family to a degree and meet the client's expectations of service would be to arrange for a min-vacation over a long weekend instead of the normal week or two week vacation. The point is this: there will always be issues, obstacles, roadblocks or life's events that come into play no matter how detailed and organized one is moving towards a goal. The real strength of commitment to reach a goal is to what degree and to what extent the person really wants to achieve that goal.
Without goals, you will end up going nowhere, or, you will end up following someone else's map!
Never lose focus on your end goal. Develop your map today - set your goals and focus!
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
"The sun's energy warms the world. But when you focus it through a magnifying glass it can start a fire. Focus is so powerful!" Alan Pariser
"Success demands singleness of purpose." Vince Lombardi
"Our thoughts create our reality- where we put our focus is the direction we tend to go." Peter McWilliams
"The greatest thing in the world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving." Oliver Wendell Holmes
"One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular." Anthony Robbins
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