Planning your goals like you mean it

reverse engineering your life

I want to offer up a small blueprint for envisioning, dreaming and planning your goals. This will be beneficial for people of all experience levels, because as I have witnessed, even the most seasoned leaders can have their jobs and lives victimized by poor life planning. I should add that this is my process personal for goal setting, whether it be for career pathing, gym goals, financial goals or life family planning.

The 6 steps are as follows:

  1. Grab a pen and a notebook

That’s right folks, a pen. For those new leaders on the younger side, a pen is a long stick looking thing that has colored liquid pouring out of the bottom to form letters called ink. These are what people used to form written communication before they had iPhones and laptops. A pen will help the brain think and plan better. Don’t ask me how, but it works far better than a word document or something similar.

2.  Find a great place to be alone

Solitude is absolutely crucial to thinking and planning clearly. 100% of our attention can’t be focused on planning if we have the TV on or there are other people vying for your attention while you focus. I used to live in the greater Seattle area near Lake Sammamish. When I was planning or preparing for an upcoming speaking engagement, I would head out to the trail and park near the lake. There aren’t many people around, if any. I can concentrate and better connect with my thoughts. When selecting a place of solitude, choose a place that perhaps you don’t visit often. This will help create a new dynamic in your brain that is primed for learning. I don’t recommend coffee shops and bookstores for solitude because there can be many different distractions. While they are great places for studying, they are not places of quiet and solitude, which is required for great life planning.

3. Select the period of time for which you want to plan for

Select a reasonable amount of time you want to envision for. For example, if you are 20-21 in college or the workforce, perhaps plan for 23-24 when you are getting out of school, switching jobs, perhaps getting married etc. In other words, plan for only the amount of time for which you can be accurate for. A 40 year old male, married with 3 kids can plan for 5-10 years in the future due to his life stage. A 17 year old high schooler should likely only plan for what college they plan on going to and where they will live etc.

4. Be specific

It is ok to have goals. They are broad and they ignite us toward excellence and purpose. However, a goal without a plan is a wish. We must volitionally be specific in our planning in order to paint a  vivid picture of what we want for ourselves, our families and our lives. And, you cannot be too specific when planning. I have gone as far as to plan for what house will I live in, what furniture will I have, where will I be working and even which friends will I have lost. Specificity is only to your benefit.

5. What steps do you need to take to reach your vision?

After setting your objectives, it is time to see what the process will be for seeing your vision come to fruition. Start with your vision and work backward from it until you arrive where you currently are in your life. For example, if in 10 years you want to be a  business leader, teacher, athlete etc. what step did you take to begin your journey in year 1? Year 2?

This process is called reverse engineering. You define what you want your life to look like and then plan it out backward. This technique has helped hundreds of leaders reach big life and career goals quickly.

Here is a sample for becoming a VP at a company right out of college:

GOAL: VP of Sales

7. Become Director Corporate sales at current company or another similar company with 8 total years of experience

6. Reach the Manager/Sr. Manager Level

5. Get noticed in sales and become a Team Lead, managing a few of your peers.

4. Hit 150% to quota at Corporate sales position

3. Move up to Sales position within 12 months

2. Get entry level position at desired company and hit 150% to quota

I.  Prepare for interview process and resume.

Now you are able to go into each of there 7 points and micro-reverse engineer them to have a more detailed list to accomplish.

6. What does your team look like?

An often overlooked aspect of reaching goals is the fact that you cannot do it alone. The weight of life will absolutely crush someone riding solo. Whether it is a slow painful burnout or a quick burnout, solo life management kills leaders. The book of Proverbs tells us, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisors they succeed.” What does your team look like in your vision? Do you have other key leaders working beside you? How have you raised them up?

Also, hiring a helping hand can be extremely beneficial as well. An agent, an assistant, and public relations director all can be tremendous helps depending on your goals. Do not be afraid to delegate some of your workload to a hired hand. Tim Ferriss has done some good work explaining good reasoning for virtual assistants.

Perhaps the number one leader on your team is your spouse. Wives and husbands are especially important here (MASSIVE understatement). They should absolutely be number one on your team. If your spouse isn’t 2nd command on your team, stop reading this right now and go figure your life out. The key to having a great marriage, family, mind set and everything in between is being best friends with your spouse. Getting them on board with your goals is the most crucial thing you can do. They will bring you love, support and accountability while you journey to reaching your goals.

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