I’ve come across thousands of quotes over my career. Some are insightful, while others are provocative, funny or kind of off the wall. The quote that is my favorite: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. I continually try to reinvent my career and life as long as I can remember. How does one do that? Here is the formula that I have found useful.
What is my ultimate goal? Who has attained a similar goal and how did they achieve it? The answer gives you a target. You may not totally reach it, but may come close. Objectively assess your chances of reaching your goal. Be realistic or be frustrated.
What are the steps needed to achieve my ultimate goal? Every journey has steps toward the destination. Are they titles? Organizational levels? Experiences? Education? Other? The number of steps determines the time requirements. Is it doable?
What is your plan for each step? Define the strategy to reach each and every step. Without a plan you move off target. Focus on the “must haves” to move forward. Define your strategy with action steps, results required and a time commitment.
What are the requirements to achieve the FIRST step? Skills? Results? Degree? Chance? The first step is usually the easiest and the biggest. It determines your trajectory. Taking the easy way out early in your career affects the outcome at the end.
What are additional requirements with each succeeding step? Usually the essentials change with each step. They become steeper with a higher standard of performance. Each industry, company and function have different demands. What are yours?
Are there alternatives to achieve the same result? Frequently there are different ways to achieve the same outcome. Some are an easier path while others are more difficult. Look for options. A certification or specialized courses may hasten your strategy.
What resources do I need at each step? Financial? Support? Seldom do you achieve success alone. The people and situations may change at each step. Mentors can accelerate your ability to move quicker through the learning process. Find one.
What is the time-line at each step? Usually moving up the ladder to your goal means you can only stay in place so long before the window of opportunity closes. Assess the track to your goal and look for shortcuts. Maybe a new organization wants your skills.
How will my goals and steps affect others around me? Family? Peers? Subordinates? Most everything you do will affect others. How flexible are you and those around you? Sometimes accommodations must be made, but at what cost in time and opportunity?
Am I prepared to accept the risk/reward equation at each step? Each decision has implications. Sort out what’s important, what is not, and what can be compromised or negotiated. Sometimes the ultimate goal has to be modified to fit reality. The risk may be too great, the reward too small, or the implications to those around you too difficult.
Reality has a way of leveling the playing field, from dream to truth.
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