Have you ever found yourself part way through a massive job before realizing that you might not actually be focusing on the right thing? Are you 100% confident that the things that you spend your days on are taking you somewhere awesome?
How would you feel if I told you that the simple way to make sure that you are always doing the right thing is to just know what you want?
The idea of ‘starting with the end in mind’ is not a new one. Since rising to popularity as one of Steven Covey’s 7 habits for highly effective people, it has remained a constant value across many industries. It remains one of the most important concepts in areas like personal development, business and project management.
Starting with the end in mind gives a firm visibility of the goal that you are working towards. This sort of visibility is critical to your success. It gives insight into the things that are important to you and gives visibility of what you need to get there.
The first research into goal setting was done by Dr Edwin Locke in the 1960’s. Ever since, people have been aware of the value of setting personal and team goals. The process of determining and documenting your goals is often identified as one of the first steps in achieving them.
Research by Californian university professor Dr Gail Matthews confirms that by simply writing your goals down, you are 33% more likely to achieve them!
There are two steps in the process of achieving anything that you want in life. Regardless of whether it is within your personal or professional environment. First you identify the thing that you want to achieve and then you take the required action to make it happen.
There is a tendency to get into the process of how to do things, even before we have confirmed that they are the right things. If this is the way that you tend to work, don’t worry. This is fairly common.
We all have so much going on that we get caught up in taking action. Particularly if you are really excited about something or naturally proactive.
In the workplace this can be seen as a tendency to launch into action based on a comment or by assuming what is required.
In your personal life, this can be a tendency to run around doing things because they require doing, not because they are important when put into perspective.
In both cases this can be resolved by spending the time to ask or identify the final result that is required. It is important to establish what you are trying to achieve before you take action.
This may seem counter-intuitive to some, particularly if you are used to launching into action without fist assessing why.
Once you have done the work to determine where you want to go, you can start to work backwards to identify what will get you there. Approaching goals in this way confirms that you are working on things that will take you in the right direction. It makes sure that you are doing more things that will move you toward things that will ultimately make you happier or more satisfied.
If you are not facing the right direction, every step you take just gets you to the wrong place faster.
You wouldn’t get in a car and start driving without an idea of where you were going. This is why the process of setting goals is important. They become the roadmap to your own personal success.
Although setting goals can take some time and thought, they actually make everything that follows easier. They give you the ability to make a quick call on whether any (every!) activity is actually taking you closer to your personal brand of success.
It is hard to enjoy the journey if you don’t know the destination. If you have never spent the time to identify what you want, you will never know when you have achieved it.
There is a level of personal satisfaction that comes from achieving any goal. This is accompanied by the release of chemicals like Dopamine and Serotonin in the body which make you feel even better.
This doesn’t happen if you are not intentionally seeking success though. These good feelings come with the sense of satisfaction that comes with achieving something. If you let life just happen around you, you are subject to other people’s direction and agendas instead of your own.
If you have not spent the time to work out your own personal direction, you will never know when you have achieved it. The easiest way to work out what you want is to start by identifying just what you are working towards.