Goals are Great – But What’s Your Plan?

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off just right.

Well, it’s a new month and that means another chance to do the things we wanted to do last month, but never quite got done. Unless you live where I do and what you wanted to do was play outside in the water. I think we missed our chance on that for a while. But, as we discussed a few days ago, winter always turns to summer … eventually.

But if you had some other goals in mind, things that don’t require nice weather, now would be the time to refocus on those goals. I have a lot of things I need to do inside and now is the perfect time to get them done. Things like cleaning up the basement, going to the gym, and writing my book. If I could get any of that done over the next few months, I’d feel pretty good.

And then there are those other things, the ones we tend to describe in vague terms. “I need to get out of debt.” “I need to learn some marketable skills.” “I need to build my business.” “I need to do more with my family.”

When we say those things, we think we’ve pretty well defined what it is we need to do. But really, it’s no different than a military commander saying, “We need to win this war.” Duh! A third-grader can figure that out. Want to try a little harder, genius? Like, how do you plan on accomplishing that goal? What’s your strategy? What’s your plan? And when do you intend to get started?

Thankfully, military commanders don’t go into the battlefield with nothing more than a vague goal. They assess the situation, take stock of their assets, look for opportunities, and formulate a plan. And hopefully they do that pretty quickly, because the other side isn’t sitting back waiting for them to get out of bed. Odds are, they’re already on the move.

More often than not, we get a little more time to plan. Very rarely are we in competition with anybody else, and the stakes aren’t nearly as high. And that’s exactly why we have such a hard time accomplishing the things we need to do. If you’re like me, planning alone can take months or even years. I’m great at planning. But at some point, those plans need to be put into action.

Nobody likes a “to-do” list. Well, almost nobody. I guess some people rely on them like I rely on the battery in my car. But for most of us, it’s just another tedious task to complete before we can get anything else done. And at the end of the day, it’s one more reminder of what all we didn’t get done. Like we need any help with that. It’s like a GPS when you make a wrong turn … “Recalculating!”

But sometimes we need those written reminders to keep us on track. With all the distractions around us every day, it’s easy to find other things to occupy our time. Whether it’s TV, or phone calls, or email, or surfing the Internet, we can always find something to take up a few minutes when we really should be doing something else.

Most times, when we find ourselves engaged in idle activities that don’t do a thing to work toward our goals, it’s because we don’t really know what we should be doing in the first place. A list can help, but only if you know what to write on that list. If your only goal is to start a business, with no more detail than that, you’ll just sit there spinning your wheels until you burn out.

That’s where a little time spent studying and planning can make a world of difference. The more complex the project, the more time you’ll need. But it’s just a simple process of breaking it down into manageable steps. What is it you want to accomplish? How can that be done? What are the steps you need to take each day? What are the obstacles you’ll encounter?

The better you understand the details of what it is you want to accomplish, the easier it’ll be to do it. But don’t let planning become a paralysis. There comes a point where you hit the road, point yourself in the right direction, and work through the obstacles as they arise.

Most of the things we want to do are pretty straightforward. Go to the grocery store, clean the basement, make dinner. We don’t really need a written plan for that. But for the bigger goals in life, you need a solid idea of how you’ll get there, and what it’ll take to do it. Break it down into daily actions, step away from the distractions, and you’ll get there sooner than you think.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Let the Job Description Keep You Out of the Game

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

Yesterday at work, I was asked to go through my job description, line by line, and indicate whether I actually do all those things on a fairly regular basis. On the one hand, it can feel like you’re ratting yourself out on the things you don’t do. But in reality, it’s a good exercise to go through, especially as we’re trying to hire more people on the team. It lets the bosses know what we really do each day.

I learned years ago that job descriptions are little more than a wish list dreamed up by eager managers with a little help from somebody in Human Resources who has absolutely no idea what’s required in that role. Nothing against HR reps, that’s just the way it is. The finished product usually covers most of the important items, but with a lot of fluff.

Have you ever looked over a job description and talked yourself out of it without even applying, simply because it lists a bunch of things you’re not sure you can do? I almost did that thirty years ago. It was a job as an electronics technician, and in everything on the job description I had the experience. All except one – “Must be able to use a spectroscope.” I’d never heard of one, much less used one.

I started to talk myself out of applying, and finally thought okay … I can learn how to use just about any piece of test equipment. If I get the job, I’ll just go in, take one look at it, and say “We used a different kind in the Navy. Can you show me how to use this one?”

Well, I got the job, and over the course of almost ten years, I never saw a spectroscope in that company. They didn’t own one. As it turns out, the manager who wrote the job description didn’t know much about the job. He was thinking of an oscilloscope, and couldn’t remember the name, so he wrote the first thing that came to mind – spectroscope. I’d used dozens of different oscilloscopes.

Had I put too much emphasis on that one line in the job description, I’d have never even applied for that job. I worked there for almost ten years and, during that time, transitioned from electronics technician to technical writer, a career change that’s taken me in a completely different direction and has led to where I am today. And I could have chickened out and missed it all.

The same thing happens when we look at people who have attained a level of success that’s higher than our own. We’d like to live like they do – a bigger house, nicer cars, better vacations, more family time, and a daily lifestyle that comes with having the means to make each day whatever you want it to be. Wouldn’t that be nice?

But as we look at these people, we begin to justify why they’re where they are and why we’re not. We think maybe they’re a little smarter or got a better education in the things that count. Maybe they were born into wealth and all they have to do is maintain it. They’re younger, better looking, more popular, or just plain lucky. There has to be something they have that we don’t.

And the truth is, they don’t have a thing on you except a little bigger resume of accomplishments. You’re writing their job description as you think it should be, with qualifications that would make them laugh. They know better. They know there’s nothing all that special about their abilities that led them to success, other than the willingness to work past their shortcomings and get the job done.

These are the people who, if they’re being completely honest, would look at you and say, “You have everything it takes to be right where I am. You have all the experience, all the knowledge, and all the ‘special gifts.’ All you lack is the acknowledgment of your own abilities, and the confidence to do something about it.”

Some people will always achieve more than others. We can’t change that. But to look at those super-achievers and think they have something you don’t is like talking yourself out of a dream job because of one line in the job description. You’re up to the task. You have what it takes. And whatever you don’t know, you can learn. Give in to your dreams. The life you want is waiting for you to claim it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved