Last week's blog focused on visions and how they provide purpose, clarity and a roadmap to achieving what you want. Having a vision, however, is just the first step. You also have to take concrete action towards your vision. Identifying specific milestones is helpful in determining what actions must be taken. By tracking your movement it assures you that you are on the right path to achieving your dream. You need a plan to define what you will do, how much effort or time you are wiling to spend, and the deadlines that must be met. Then, when you step back to assess your progress, you will appreciate the successful actions you have taken. This in turn will inspire you to continue forward to your next steps. Visions, while exciting and at our heart’s desire, can also be very overwhelming and scary when we begin to consider all that has to happen to make them a reality. It is very easy to start making up stories or excuses about how challenging, time consuming, or expensive it will be to achieve them. These thoughts can hold us back from believing our dreams can be achieved or reinforce the idea that we don’t have the capacity to fulfill them.
NO OVERNIGHT SUCCESS
To break through our internal voice of the naysayer or critic, or the blasé voices of our family and friends, that our dreams are impossible, it is important to acknowledge that you did not get to where you are now overnight. The same can be said for any vision--it won’t be achieved in a day. I have to remind myself of this every once in a while and it helps reestablish what I need to accomplish at any given time.
Case in point: when my husband and I decided that it was time to buy a house, I was consumed by our financial capability, what the correct process to home buying was, and how long the home search would take. This being our first home, I thought that the entire process would take quite a while. After (me) taking lots of deep breaths, we began by determining by when we wanted to be in our new home. This helped to set the time frame for most of our actions. Then, we identified what we desired of our home such as what were non-negotiable (e.g., an enclosed yard, several bedrooms, location near public transportation) and what we were flexible about (e.g., all new appliances, white walls). We then brainstormed about the type of help we would need (e.g., real estate agent, lawyer, house inspector, insurance agent). As we began to set up appointments and speak with our real estate agent, we learned about other potential resources and additional steps that needed to occur to bring us closer to our home. We also agreed to complete certain tasks based on our schedule. In less than four months we were in our new home!
To begin making a vision manageable with my coaching clients, and for myself, after they have determined what they want to achieve, we brainstorm specific actions (what) that need to happen to reach it and if applicable, the frequency or amount (how much). Then, after clustering the actions by what they will achieve, deadlines are identified for each item. This helps to plot out what will be completed on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. Once entered into a calendar, these self-identified actions become measures of success or milestones.
My clients also determine those actions that most resonate with them because if you have to do something and aren’t enjoying it, you most likely won’t do it. For remaining actions, my clients determine how relevant they are and whether they need to do it or if it is something that might be delegated.
I have my clients identify the resources they have and will need as well as potential roadblocks. Identifying resources helps a person realize that they are not necessarily working alone and may even result in an action being broken down even further. Brainstorming roadblocks helps clients consider what may get in their way and what they need to keep in mind to get around them. Sometimes it helps a client realize that they have already accomplished something similar or that they don’t have to start from scratch.
Along the way sometimes we get off course or something happens in our lives that cause us to reassess in the direction that we are heading. Having milestones provides you with an opportunity to shift directions if necessary. Ever gotten lost while driving or you took the wrong turn and had to change direction? You wouldn’t know you needed to do that unless you knew your destination. Referring to your action plan helps you get back on track.
Similarly, if you have a vision and you aren’t taking movement it’s an opportunity to look at what is blocking you from moving forward. Maybe you haven’t identified the actions that motivate or inspire you. Is it that the vision you have doesn’t call out to you or you are spending too much time listening to the Tu No Puedes Committee? It could be that you aren’t surrounding yourself with people that will support you, such as a coach.
If you have had the same vision for a few years and you haven’t made as much progress as you would like, what do you need to change or do differently to start getting traction. What has worked for you when you have been successful in the past and what do you need to let go of to be more successful this year?
You can achieve your vision:
- Remember your why—why is this vision so important to you, what resonates with you about the vision and what you are hoping to achieve.
- It’s your vision and you get to decide what that is—sometime we buy into the story that we have to achieve X and when we start working towards it we realize that we were wrong or that it wasn’t our own dream. If along the way you decide that your vision has changed, don’t be afraid to acknowledge it and shift your actions as necessary.
- Revisit your plan on a regular basis—to keep yourself on track review your plan at least on a quarterly basis to determine that this is still the vision for you and that you are moving toward it. Recalibrate as necessary.
- Your actions build on each other—each step taken, no matter how small, builds on each other. Don’t minimize what you are accomplishing.
- A plan can be as formal or casual as you like—You just need to keep track of what you want to achieve. Use a format that works for you—paper, electronic, checklist, voice memo, etc.
Your turn: How do you determine if you are moving towards your visions?
Si tú quieres, to receive a copy of the form I use for action planning, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Action Plan Request as the subject line. I am happy to share.
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