To reach lofty life goals, you need a coherent strategy and a robust implementation process. Just like a business. Here's mine.
Imagine you're talking to the CEO of a large company. In conversation, it transpires he isn't really sure where the company would like to be in five years' time; and therefore is not really sure where they'll be in one year. He is aware of some of the company's strengths and weaknesses, but hasn't spent time considering where to double down in resource allocation, and which activities to eliminate as unproductive. He has some thoughts on some goals it would be nice for the company to achieve, but hasn't yet thought about how to achieve those goals. Overall, what the company will do in the near term, and what objectives it will pursue, is a fuzzy fog at best.
Would you invest in this company? Do you think that life is that easy, that even in this case, the company is likely to hit some good outcomes? Or do you think that life is difficult enough, and unforgiving enough, such that a company run this way is most likely to meander around, year to year, achieving very little of note over time?
When you think about it, most people personify a variant of this situation. They may be exactly as described; they may have slightly more concrete thoughts, plans and intentions; but in most cases, there is no solid plan, set down on paper, available for review and update, with deliberate choices, tradeoffs and tactics defined before the fact. The type of thing you'd expect a decent CEO to have for a company.
In Richard Rumelt's "Good Strategy Bad Strategy" he defines the difference between a strategy and an ambition.
When the CEO says "our plan is to become the market leader, with 25% market share, in the next five years", that's ambition.
When he articulates how many people he'll hire in sales to achieve this goal, where he'll divert resources from, and how he'll improve his product to out-compete the competition, that's a strategy.
Therefore, in considering your own life, it isn't enough to have some vague notion of things you want to do. Knowing you want to get fit; lose weight; reach financial independence; live somewhere warm - that's ambition. But what's the strategy?
If you truly want to achieve your goals, you must be more deliberate. You need to have a plan, and also design a process which will make sure the plan becomes a reality. Most people do not even have a plan, but even a plan is useless if it is designed and then left in some drawer gathering dust. As I've mentioned elsewhere, implementation is everything.
So, what to do?
Basically, what you do is:
Define your long term goals.
Define your near term goals given #1.
Design a roadmap to reach these goals.
Design a process of implementation.
Designing Your Strategy
That in itself should be enough information. In case it isn't, here I'll discuss the strategy health check process I use to achieve the above. First, I conduct a Strategy Assessment. Then, I conduct a Quarterly Strategy Health Check. These are conversations you have with yourself, in the way a coach might have with you (if you needed one, which you don't, as you have CyborgYou.com!). WRITE DOWN AND KEEP THE ANSWERS FOR FUTURE REFERENCE.
1. Long Term Goals - To kickstart the process, I ask myself what are the 2-4 main goals I want to achieve in the next 2-5 years? Any more than that, things are likely to get crowded, and difficult to execute. In this case, more than likely you're not prioritising sufficiently. Here we look at the really big things you want, such as a strong family dynamic, financial independence, to front a band in a concert, to become a published professional author.
2. Dickens Exercise - This is about replicating Scrooge - your older self coming back in time to talk to you. Ask yourself
- What are your limiting beliefs - ie, what are those things you've been telling yourself that have stopped you? Things like "I'm not a naturally happy bubbly person"; "I'm too old to change career now"; "I'm not good with writing/music/people/entrepreneurship"; "My career is too demanding to spend enough time at home"; "Only the very lucky get rich".
- What have these beliefs cost you - in the past; in the present; and what they'll cost you ion the future? It is very important here to spell out what these beliefs are taking from you, and to understand they are not free, in fact very far from it, they cost you dear each and every day.
- What belief can I replace them with - Eg, "I can spend lots of time with my kids". "I am pre-disposed to being happy". What would that look like if it were true? What does it mean, behaviour wise, thought wise? The point here is not to just magically flip some switch; it is to consider the limiting belief, consider the counter belief, and understand the path to switching from one to the other. The switch is possible, but you need to think about all this.
- What would your 10/20/30 year older self be telling you today? - Here, think if you could go back in time 10 years from today to your younger self, what would you tell them? What perspective and expe