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Filtering by Tag: Goals

Women in Politics: What Does Success Mean to You?

Librada Estrada

Si Tu Quieres is excited to highlight an incredible Latina that has been very active in the world of politics for 20 years and is doing great work to develop others who desire to impact and transform their communities and organizations—Patricia Campos-Medina.

Patricia Campos-Medina is a leadership development professional with the Union Leadership Institute at Cornell University. She is currently the President of Latinas United for Political Empowerment (LUPE PAC) in NJ, and a founding Board Member for PODER PAC, a national political action committee by Latinas for Latinas.  She served as political and legislative director for several unions including UNITE, UNITEHERE and SEIU.  She also worked as a campaign consultant in many local, state and federal political campaigns including US Rep. Bill Pascrell, Mayor Cory Booker and Senator Cory Booker. In 2008, she served as part of the Transition Team for President Barack Obama.  She was born in El Salvador and immigrated to the USA at the age of 14 years old and now resides in NJ. You can follow her on Twitter at @pcamposmedina or e-mail her at patriciaLUPEPACpres@gmail.com


It has been quite a year of presidential politics already.  And as the attacks on Hillary’s record continues, I cannot help but think about the challenges that women who work in politics face daily as they attempt to be engaged and win on their own terms.  Not all women might like Hillary, or might connect with her like some of us do, but what her experiences reveal is that in politics, acting like a man can be an “asset and a curse.”  How we learn to navigate this duality is what helps us stay in the game and succeed on our own terms.

I have been immersed in Democratic and labor politics for the majority of 20 years of my professional life.  I have run labor political programs and have been part of teams that run national presidential campaigns, local mayoral and city council campaigns.  I worked at the highest levels of policy making in Congress, and developed sharp elbows getting resolutions passed at the local city councils in cities across the United States.  I have also been in the backroom cutting deals, and I have been in the streets protesting those who are behind closed doors making those deals.  Through all of these experiences, I accomplished a lot but I have also gotten burned and deflated, been excluded and vilified, and I have been told at times that if only I knew how the game is played, I could have more power and influence.

Learning the Game

So, what is the game?  And what does success in politics looks like for women?  I don’t think there is one easy answer for either question, but let’s start by stating the fact that being successful in politics is not necessarily a measure of your level of financial success or your access to power.  There are some women in politics that have both and yet they still feel as outsiders, constantly fighting for recognition for their contributions.  

Learning to negotiate for your interest and for your agenda is a crucial component of learning the game, but the most important one is your ability to build alliances and make those alliances help you build a record of accomplishments.  You also need thick skin to survive the ride and to accept that the qualities that help men be recognized as leaders, do not automatically work for women.  

Why? Because there is a double standard in politics. Qualities that are seen as positive in men, such as confidence and aggressiveness, are seen as negative in women.  Hence, in order to use those qualities to our advantage, we must master the complex art of duality; you must be self-assured and at the same time intentionally learn to transform your confidence into determination and purpose.

So what is the first step in achieving success in politics?  It starts with having a clear purpose.

Your Purpose for Politics

If your goal is to have a future in politics then you must have a plan and a strategy, and be clear about why you are here, in the game.  Why do you want to get into politics?  Is it to build power for yourself?  For your community?  Or is it to accomplish a policy change you care deeply about? 

There is nothing wrong with wanting influence and power.  Men want that all the time and no one vilifies them for it.  But you must know that the stakes are higher for you. If you are a woman, more often than not, you don’t have a “Godfather” to show you the ropes.  You must negotiate the rules on your own and along the way you must learn to develop men and women as allies who will take an interest in your success. (Look for my next piece on cultivating male allies.)

Politics is a Male-Dominated Field

Once you have defined your purpose, you must understand that politics is a male dominated field with access to the inner circle granted more easily to those who are close to money and power.  For Latina women, those two access points are limited given that most of the time we have neither.  We come to politics from the outside, as activists trying to break down the walls and demanding power by mobilizing our community. 

I came to politics as a union/community organizer, someone with a demand.  I believed, and still do, that politics is a tool in our arsenal to fight economic inequality and to have a voice in the future of our country.  Because I was a good organizer, I was recruited to lead union members political activities and to convince them to contribute their hard earned money to politics.  I had people power and that could not be ignored.

But even with people power, I still had to battle the sexism of politics.  I am after all, an immigrant woman with a thick accent. Even with two Ivy League degrees, I had to prove constantly that I didn’t get the job because someone did me a favor.  In my 20s and 30s, I sometimes chose to brush off sexual advances, ignore sexist jokes, and hold my feelings close to my chest so I wouldn’t be labeled too sensitive and or irrational. 

My constant battle was always to be able to cultivate professional relationships with powerful men that were based on my union’s agenda, my campaign skills and my intellect.  I played the game and while I survived and thrived, I always felt a sense that maybe if I had been a man, I would have gotten more done.  Despite this feeling, though, deep in my soul I always knew I had made the best of every situation.

When I entered my late 30’s and 40s, I decided to take a leap of faith and try something new.  I stepped aside from my union political career to have a family, build my own consulting practice and to focus on helping union members become effective leaders.  Politics is a passion for me so I am still engaged in it as an advisor to campaigns and to other Latina women trying to make a mark in politics.

So, if you are a Latina who loves politics, a Latina who wants to run for office or just a political activist who wants to shake up the status quo, I offer the following tips based on what I have learned in the last 20 years of political and campaign work:

  1. Be clear about why you are in the game and be proud of it: You want to run for office? Awesome. Own it.  Learn from the best political candidates and develop a strategy for yourself so that you can run your own campaign. 
  2. Raise your own money: But if you want to run for office, then learn how to raise your own money so that you can be independent and drive your own agenda.  My grandfather, Papita Chema always said, “el que te da el dinero, te controla,” or “whoever gives you the money, controls you.” So, raise your own money. 
  3. Identify your tribe: You want to change the world?  Fix the educational system in your district?  Great causes.  Organize your tios and tias and all your cousins, high school, college friends and your fellow church parishioners. They have to be your first round of volunteers and supporters who help you both with money and by getting others to join your cause.  Than, map out your next round of supporters based on your agenda and your interest.  You grow as a leader when your base of supporters keeps expanding.
  4. Be prepared and always be willing to learn something new: Learn everything you need to know about your issue(s) and be twice as prepared than the men in the room.  And if you don’t know something, listen to what people are saying. Show empathy but don’t fake it.  Be honest that you are not an expert and that you will research the issue and come back with answers.  Faking it or lying about knowing something doesn’t work for women.  We must find the balance between being knowledgeable and not acting like “know it all’s.” 
  5. Be aggressive on defining your expectations to others: You want to learn a new skill in a campaign?  Ask for the job.  Be confident that you will learn it and be clear that you will not get stuck doing the same thing over and over again.  Even if you start at the bottom, by the end of a campaign, you should be in charge of something.  Don’t just hang around waiting to be recognized for your hard work.  If you are a political consultant, find out what other consultants are getting paid for the same type of work.  You have a skill they need so don’t allow them to undervalue your work.   
  6. Open doors for others: If you are a Latina candidate or a campaign consultant, identify young Latina/o operatives and put them to work on your campaign.  Build a cadre of young activist so you can tap their skills later and build your own network.  Have you ever noticed most campaigns always look like 20s something young male college kids? Well, eventually those young male kids become the top earning campaign consultants.  We must build our own pipeline of campaign operatives who are women. 
  7. Empower other women:  Be intentional about having other women voices and experiences around you.  Make them part of your inner circle and assign them key roles on your campaign that will build their skills set.  And if you are a staffer or consultant, use the “shine theory” to build other women allies; if a woman has a great idea in a meeting, support it and make a point to give her credit for it.  This practice denies men the opportunity to ignore it and later claim it as their own.  Don’t be afraid to let other women shine. By building others up, we also build ourselves up as authentic leaders.
  8. Trust your instincts: Oprah talks about how women most valuable asset is our “gut feeling,” our instinct.  There is something innate that makes us feel when something is not good for us. We feel it in our gut or that place right above the top of your stomach that tingles when you are not sure about something. When that happens, don’t ignore it.  If you are being pushed to make a decision that doesn’t feel right, to hire someone you know won’t work out, or you are being triggered by aggressive behavior, walk away.

I have failed some times to listen to my gut instinct and it has gotten me into some bad situations.  But if you make a mistake, don’t be so hard on yourself.  My biggest learning moments have come from situations that went south—either because I lost my composure or because I made the wrong decision.  My test for surviving such moments has always been staying true to myself, living up to my values, and knowing that my integrity was never compromised.

At the end of the day, politics is like any other career. If you love it, you will figure out a way to be good at it.  And like any other job, in order to be successful, you must have a purpose and a strategy to get to the finish line.  Give yourself benchmarks to meet and goals to reach. 

Today I am still in the game cultivating leaders as a trainer and adviser, helping other women and labor leaders discover their own power so they can become authentic leaders with the courage to transform our society.  I have accomplished more than I ever imagined I would as a girl growing up in El Salvador.  And as I continue in my path to build a better world for my children, I keep Winston Churchill’s words as a mantra; 

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal.  It is the courage to continue that counts.”

So as you find your path, I urge you to have the courage to be authentic, to challenge the status quo, to build other women up and to keep pushing until you get to your final destination.

Your turn: How do you try to affect change in your community?  How do you define success in your life?

P.S. Enjoyed this post? Help us spread the love by sharing it, liking it, tweeting it, or forwarding it to your network. 

 

Dance To Your Own Beat: Putting Your Life’s Passion into Practice

Librada Estrada

We continue our commitment of highlighting Latinas who are transforming their lives by living in choice. 

Dance is at the heart of Amanda Cardona’s life. With over 20 years of professional experience, Amanda combines dance with teaching, travel, and digital marketing to share her calling with others. When she isn't leading or taking a class, putting on a show or recording videos to share her globetrotting adventures, you can find her working on some fancy footwork. To see some of her performances or to get in touch with her, check out her YouTube Channel at Amanda Cardona Dance or follow her on Twitter @AmandaCDance.


A fan whirs in the distance, a bell whistles “toot toot”, sneakers crunch across gravel… in an instant, my foot is tapping, my head is bopping and I spin a little twirl, when I realize that the store employee is smirking at me.  Instantaneous blush, a shrug of the shoulders, a quick thank you and out the door I go as I think to myself, yep, I’m a dancer people.  I hear music in everything and that in turn, inspires me to move, to create, to dance….

A Dancer is Born

Dance is simply my life force.  It’s like the air I breathe, constant and steady.  It’s my happiness when I’m down, my inspiration when I’m unmotivated, and my jolt of energy when there is no caffeine around.  

I’ve been lucky enough to have dance in my life since the age of 3 when I was a bratty kid refusing to actually participate in the dance classes my mom dragged me to.  Little did she know then that I was quietly refusing to try it until I knew I could do it well.  Week by week I would sit there and WATCH the class for an hour; until the fateful day when, without any prodding or threats, I mean gentle supplications, I stood up and executed the entire month’s routine perfectly.  And so, a dancer was born.

A Rude Awakening

Now, on the flip side, I grew up during a time when “dance” wasn’t seen as a viable career path, there weren’t as many options available as there are these days and quite simply, I didn’t have the “dancer” body type that was necessary to pursue dance in any form other than a hobby.  For example, in my 20s, when I wanted to get into Latin dance on a more professional level, I thought, “I’m Latin, I’ve got flavor, this should be a shoo-in!” Uh no, I was a served a plate of rude awakening.  

I am a relatively tall and pretty curvaceous Latina that is often not accepted by certain groups, not given the opportunity to perform on a stage, regardless of my two decades of training and experience. These experiences have at times shaken my confidence.  But I keep getting up and putting myself out there.

A Physical Art Form

Those situations haven’t completely disappeared. Dance is a physical art form, which by design places your body under the magnifying lens for inspection, evaluation and judgment (especially at its highest levels). The minute I step on a dance floor for a warm up dance, especially where I don’t know anyone and vice versa, I can feel them making a judgment that about me. It usually goes something like this… “Hmmm, new person.  Don’t know what level she is.  She’s a bit tall, she’s “thick”, and I don’t know if she’s heavy on her feet.” This then translates to a dance where you’re “tested” or “evaluated” on your skill level.  One turn, good she kept her balance.  She reacts quickly and moves quickly and hence the door is opened to a more “advanced” dance. 

I actually advocate this type of “warm up” dance.  You should begin slowly because you don’t know the other person’s skill level, not because of their size or shape. Many people equate size and skill. It can be a bit disheartening when you take those first steps, especially to a song that you just want to JAM out to!

Making It Work For Me

But even in those dark moments, when the negative voices are chirping incessantly, needling in the back of my mind, I also had another voice that I thankfully pay more attention to that reminds me, “Yeah, yeah, so what.  You love to dance, so make it work for you.” And that’s just what I’ve done, made it work for me. If you have ever even had even the slightest thought of giving dance a try, do it and most importantly make it work for you. 

Easier said than done?  True but the work and overcoming those nagging voices is what makes it worth it. Here are some examples from my personal experience and how I have made it work:

  • I go see a dance show.  I’m inspired and melancholic at the same time.  Inspired by the sheer skill of the performers, melancholic as I compare my own skill level.  Solution:  Change my thinking. Reflect on what I have done and what I can do. Translate the positive thoughts into action- what kinds of dance can I do, what exercises can I do to get stronger, more agile, and more flexible and get moving! 
  • I would go out to dance, but wasn’t being asked to dance.  Solution: I ask others to dance.
  • I went out with girlfriends to dance, amazing songs would come on and perhaps everyone was already dancing.  Solution: I learned how to do the leaders role (and damn well if I say so myself).  I know I was doing something right when my dance card filled up, except I was leading!
  • I wanted to perform, but couldn’t find a partner. Solution: I joined forces with other women and created an all-female dance company.
  • I wanted to travel the world teaching & dancing but wasn’t “well-known”.  Solution: Start out with cold-calls.  Offer to be part of an event without pay or for barter, then show & prove what I can do. 

Does it require work? Absolutely! Is it worth the time & investment? Undoubtedly! With each obstacle and the resolution that follows, I changed my attitude and my reality. I make it work for me and in return I fall deeply in love with dance over and over again.

Promoting Dance

Why am I such a cheerleader for the art of dance?  Let’s take a look from the outside in.  

Physically speaking, dance can do wonders for your coordination, mobility, endurance and stamina, muscle tone and fitness.  Who doesn’t want to look and feel better in their own skin!  The physical exertion also produces endorphins, which in turn leaves you feeling happy.  

Dance can be mentally and emotionally stimulating as well.  It allows you the freedom to move, occupy your space and be comfortable with yourself and the movement you can create.  It allows you to leave all the nonsense, obligations and minutiae of daily life at the door- just check it at the door- and move.  You’d be amazed at where your mind can go when you allow yourself that freedom.  When you combine all these elements together; physical, emotional, mental health- it’s a recipe for overall well being.  

Dance has a special added bonus.  Many dance styles are social, meaning they create the opportunity for a person to socialize, to get to know people who share a similar interest.  Stick with it long enough, and before you know it, you’ll find you have a new “family”.

Your dance family looks for you when you’ve missed class, is ready to give suggestions and recommendations when you’re taking the plunge into buying dance shoes, and welcomes you with a smile when you walk through the door.  

For me, dance has given me so many individual benefits and a feeling of home no matter where in the world I go.

Dance To Your Own Beat

Everything begins and ends with… YOU.  We live in a world full of structure and even confinement.  There will always be some obstacle trying to block you from your passion, interest or goal.  Sometimes those external factors will play a role in what you are able to achieve or accomplish and the key that will always influence how far you get is YOU and YOUR attitude. 

You can let others dictate your worth or value or you can MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU.  We have to be our own cheerleaders, because only you hold the key to unlocking your potential.  Instead of focusing on the limitations, exercise your brain and your body and discover how you can work with what you have been given.  Challenge the boundaries and perhaps stretch them a bit.  Soon enough, you just may find yourself “dancing” to a masterpiece of your own design.

Your turn: How are you honoring your passion?

P.S. Enjoyed this post? Help us spread the love by sharing it, liking it, tweeting it, or forwarding it to your network. 

What are the implications of your requests?

Librada Estrada

CautionHave you ever had this happen to you—you fantasize about asking for something (raise, promotion, going on a date, etc.) and when you get it you realize that you are receiving more than you expected? Before asking for what I want, I build a fantasy about what it will be like to get it. As an employee, I would dream about a flexible schedule, new office space, more income, how I would supervise staff, or how I would design a program. Before children I pictured myself volunteering, chaperoning and baking. I would become giddy with the possibilities of what might be. Unfortunately, fantasy and reality do not always align.

Something that I learned the hard way is that getting what you want is not always what it is cracked up to be and that sometimes there are unexpected consequences. For instance, when I became a supervisor for the first time I imagined that my team and I would work like a well-oiled machine and that it would be smooth sailing. HAH! My ideas did not take into consideration personalities, deadlines, or group dynamics. I had a huge learning curve on team building and individual preferences.

Or, when we had our first child, in my mind I skipped the first 5 years and only ran scenarios that would involve school, play dates and coordinating birthdays. I considered what I would control and I did not realize the impact she, and eventually her brother, would have on my life as an individual, as a parent and on my career on a daily basis.

Often we focus so much on getting what we want that we don’t consider what might actually happen, besides the obvious. Or, we don’t proceed with caution. We are quick to move forward, concentrate on the positives and we don’t pause to examine the potential risks.

Many people want a promotion. They desire a higher income bracket, a title change, more responsibilities, and/or the opportunity to supervise (more) individuals. When they get it they are excited for all of these reasons and more.

However, earning a promotion is more than just these obvious things. It involves a shift in attitude, producing more and increasing your emotional intelligence. It may require you to project yourself as a leader and to push yourself to develop professionally. You will have to invest in yourself.

Depending on the promotion, your former peers and friends may end up reporting to you, shifting the power dynamic in the relationship. This may include losing some friends while gaining new ones. Your peer group changes and that may require you starting off as the new kid on the block and spending time and energy building bridges.

What this also does is give you access to information once shielded from you. Ignorance is bliss and often being privy to behind closed-door conversations may result in you becoming more jaded about the organization, its willingness to change or the impact that you can have.

Your quality of life may be impacted. You may find yourself modifying your schedule to deliver a product or meet a deadline and have less free time for loved ones. Or, you may not have a chance to enjoy the additional vacation days you are entitled to because of work travel, etc. A promotion may result in you being more stressed and taking it out on friends and family.

As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed. As you consider your next promotion, raise, life change, personal relationship, etc. it’s important to recognize what you are asking for will involve more than you expect. Understanding this will help you better negotiate your request, set more realistic expectations, prioritize items, or identify concessions you are willing to make. When you do get it you will be better prepared to deal with the unexpected and can spend more time on enjoying the experience.

The next time you get ready to make a request or negotiate, keep the following things in mind:

  1. Ask questions—Don't be afraid to talk to others or to ask the questions that you have. Don't assume that others will give you the information you need.
  2. Be clear on what you want and be flexible on how it can be met—Know what it is that you really want and be open to how the organization, supervisor, or other can provide it to you. If you are rigid about how it is achieved you will limit your likelihood of success. I have had more success when I have stayed focus on the outcome that I desire and not worried about the process.
  3. Make time to identify the long-term implications of what you desire—To better negotiate, think past the short-term gratification to determine what is it that you may expect and what else do you need to ask for. Picture yourself in a week’s time, three months into the future, a year or further down the line. Ask yourself how will you be different.
  4. Build on your past experiences—How many times have you said to yourself, I wish I would have known X or if I had only thought about Y. These are nuggets of information. Think about your successes and failures. My experience differed slightly each time I was promoted because I did things a little different in each position. What do you want to build on? What do you want to make sure you don’t lose sight of? What is important for you to negotiate?
  5. Stretch outside of your comfort zone—Yes, you may not have signed up for all that you are receiving and be open to how the opportunity may help you grow in other areas of your life.
  6. Prepare to receive—Consider what is it that you need to do to get ready to receive what you want. What attitudes or beliefs do you need to shift? What skills will you have to be ready to develop or learn? What boundaries do you have to put in place personally or professionally?

Your turn: In the comment section below, share an unexpected consequence of getting what you wanted and how you dealt with it.

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Six Ways Passion Fuels Your Dream

Librada Estrada

PicMonkey CollagePassion, according to Websters Dictionary, is “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.” Lately I have been reading articles that discuss it. Some emphasize that you should follow your passion in order to be happier and find more satisfaction at work. Others stress that you must first focus on making a living and then honor your passion. What do you think? Ana and I have written about visioning and taking action to make your dreams a reality. However, where does passion fit in?

Over the last few months I have reflected on my choices to date and the focus of my work. I have had an amazing journey because I have been able to honor my passions in different ways. From a very early age I knew that I wanted to impact the health of others. As a young child, and witnessing extreme poverty during family trips to Mexico, I had decided that I wanted to help people and that I could do that best with a career in medicine.

Once in college the reality of how long it might actually take, the cost, and differences between population versus individual based health care set in. Suddenly, my interest to help others began to get clearer and I realized that while the idea of serving people through medicine was good, it wasn’t actually my cup of tea. It no longer was as appealing as I originally had believed and my enthusiasm changed.

So, I decided to put aside my dream of medicine. Still not satisfied with what I knew as my options at the time, but knowing that I wanted to be an agent of change, I searched for different opportunities. While working for a few years after graduating from college, I volunteered at different organizations and I fell upon public health. As I learned more about it I realized that I had discovered another way to tap into my passions. It combined behavior change, psychology, health, and population based impact—all of which were areas I was excited about and were components I wanted in my profession! I was ecstatic to be able to combine so many elements that were important to me.

Eventually I graduated with a Masters in Public Health and worked in the field for almost 15 years. I had the opportunity to work on various topics at different organizations. At core, all of them related to workforce and leadership development. Without realizing it, my passion had morphed from focusing on health and access to care, to enabling individuals to make choices for positive health outcomes and, eventually, to building systems and infrastructure.

Now, I focus on helping women embrace their unique leadership style and kick self-doubt to the curb so they can have more fulfilling lives through my coaching practice. I transitioned from working at a non-profit organization to having my own consulting practice. Although I don’t like the administrative side of having my own business, I love working with my clients and witnessing their growth!

Regardless of which camp you fall into, work first/passion second or vice versa, having passion in your life helps you enjoy life more and contributes to you being more enthusiastic about what you want to achieve in spite of things not being perfect or easy. Here is what I have come to appreciate about passion and my visions.

  1. Passions are dynamic—I went from wanting to cure people to preventing adverse health outcomes to leadership development. And, I was excited about each while working on these areas. Similar to dreams, as you move through different life stages and have successes, your passions will change based on your experiences, knowledge, family, commitments, culture, values, etc.
  2. Find your why—For me, at the heart of all of this, is that I want to help and empower people. Being aware of why you are excited and passionate about something will motivate you to take action. Watch the Simon Sinek video on this topic.
  3. Use them to refuel—I was fortunate that I was honoring my passion through my work and yet, there were times when this wasn’t enough. I had to find different ways to feel joy and be motivated. Be flexible about how your passions fit into your life and honor them in some way. Don’t deny your passions! This is especially important when you are not able to be enthusiastic about things and need to recalibrate or need a shot in the arm to get moving.
  4. We have more than one passion—Each of us has multiple interests. In addition to my family and friends, I love card making, photography, cooking, and facilitation. You cannot always focus on each one or all at the same time. When you aren’t being fueled by one, tap into another.
  5. They are unique to you—I get excited discussing leadership development and coaching. This might not even be on your radar—who cares! Like your visions, it’s about what gives you deeper meaning and about what you love. It isn’t about achieving approval. What do you enjoy?
  6. They align with your vision—Following your passions doesn’t make life perfect or easy. You still have to do the work, face your fears, and be willing to risk. Action is the cornerstone of achieving what you want in life. Working on what you are passionate about helps you know that you are heading in the right direction and moving toward your purpose.

Your turn: How does passion show up in your life?

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Achieving Your Dream

Librada Estrada

Direction_blogLast 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!

MANAGEABLE VISION

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.

(RE)ALIGNMENT

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 librada@situquieres.co with Action Plan Request as the subject line. I am happy to share.

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