“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you walk,” said the Cat.
— Alice in Wonderland
Though she hadn’t yet identified her destination, Alice wanted to know which way to go. Maybe you’re unsure about your direction. Identify first the results you are looking for and then develop a plan.
I’ve never forgotten this simple comment made to me by a successful restaurant owner: “Get yourself organized, Levi.”
“Organization couldn’t be that difficult,” I thought. “What did he mean by “getting organized?”
Often times I think that we get so involved with doing things that we fail to appropriate the time to reflect on our activities. We fail to stop and ask ourselves important questions: “Am I getting anywhere? Am I getting closer to attaining my wants? Have my wants changed? What could I do differently that would move me closer to getting the results I desire?”
It’s simple, isn’t it? – that you must first know your destination before you plan a trip. Simple? Yes. But often overlooked.
Step 1: Identify Wants that Lead
Most people have many wants, but few are able to clearly define them. The common ones are things like money, leisure, prestige, and respect. All of these are too vague, however. They do nothing to begin pointing you in a direction.
Wants must be specific. They must begin to point you in the direction of performing a set of related and specific tasks. “Wanting more money, for example, does nothing to indicate the direction in which you should go. “Wanting to become a successful commercial graphic artist,” on the other hand, does.
Step 2) Identify how to get there
Developing a plan of attainment is difficult. And rare is the ability to conceive a plan which upon initial implementation will work without fail. Your plan should always, therefore, include allowances for failure. A common error I see in planning is failing to factor in failure.
The scientific method provides a useful model for gaining the right perspective on figuring out how to get what you want. Consider your initial conceptual plan to be your hypothesis, and the attempted implementation of your plan to be your experiment.
The purpose of the experiment is to discover the truth. The experiment either proves or disproves the hypothesis. The results of the experiment, whether they prove or disprove the hypothesis, will always lead to the truth. This model makes it easier to see the important interplay between the conceptual (plan/hypothesis), and the real (implementation/experiment).
Step 3) Act
While you must act to attain results, understand too that planning never ends. Steps 2 and 3 should form a continuous looping cycle. Acting does two things: it moves you closer to attaining your goals and it allows you to fail so that you can then modify your plan. Failure clearly demonstrates two important things: that you have goals and that you’re trying to attain them. Those who never fail aren’t trying to do anything. Failure is a friend to those who have a desire to achieve. It tells you what you need to know – the truth.
Levi Hill, Copyright 1993-2003