I have always been an optimistic person and a bit of a dreamer, but at some point in my life I began to get ideas for things that I actually pursued.
The ideas I would have were a result of seeds planted through people I met, things I had read or seen, or things I had learned. They started small and grew as the years passed, and as my achievements got bigger. They eventually grew to a point where they were well out of reach, and the ideas continue to grow.
My curiosity and desire to learn has increased in great proportions as well, and through this I started studying others who achieve great things in their lives, and the thinking of certain high achievers.
This led me to believe that if I could see it and believe it, I could achieve it. Then, a number of challenges occurred, and I came away with some additional perspective that was critical to me achieving more.
For years I have been a proponent of setting out of reach goals as a way to stretch myself. One day I was challenged on this by one of my advisors, and cautioned about the dangers of having stretch goals. He shared a story with me about a man that continuously set these stretch goals for himself and his team and never managed to to achieve them. He shared with me the damage it did to this man and those who worked with him, the trust it eroded and the confidence that fled.
I respected his perspective on the matter and began reflecting on my own thinking around stretch goals. Now after 2 years of grinding through a major downturn in my business, and other challenges, I am able to share some new insights that have given me renewed confidence in my vision, and my use of stretch goals.
Simply Believing is Not Enough
Looking back I realize that I was naive to the difficulty of achieving some of my goals. I believed that my faith in achieving my vision would carry me toward it, but that’s not realistic and definitely not tactical. That’s not to say I didn’t have a plan to achieve my goals, it’s just that I didn’t put enough emphasis on it.
Reality will set in as you start moving towards your goals, and you will be faced with adversity that simply “believing” will not solve. Believing is an aspect of how you persevere; it is NOT what forms the daily actions that will propel you towards your vision. You need a realistic plan to address the gap.
Appreciate Where You Are Now
Having clarity on the future you see is important, but having clarity of your current reality is equally important. If you are not clear on where you are, finding your way to your vision will be defeating. It would be like putting an address into your GPS without your current location.
Part of achieving your vision is to appreciate where you are, what you currently have, and to nurture this. In business, it’s like having two businesses; the one you have today and the one you see in the future. If you don’t pay attention to the one you have today, you may damage the very foundation that will enable you to build the one you see in the future.
Ensuring you have a good balance of focus between these two worlds is paramount.
Understand the Gap
Once you have clarity of where you want to be and a clear understanding for where you are starting, you can assess the gap. This assessment should shed light on what you need going forward. The areas I assess revolve around the Spiritual, Vocational, Relationship, Financial, and Social aspects of my life.
What you find here may lead to the addition of human capital in your organization, a change in where you’re allocating your time, or a change in the relationships you are focusing on. A lot of truths can be uncovered here, and if you’re being honest it may be intimidating.
Adopt a daily focus on closing the gap and schedule your daily actions accordingly. I start each day asking myself, what can I do today to make progress on my plan; daily progress is my focus.
Waters Will Get Choppy
Once you leave the shoreline the waters can get choppy, and if you’re not prepared this can throw you overboard. This can come in the form of mistakes, decisions outside your comfort zone, naysayers, wrong assumptions or roadblocks.
You might underestimate the amount of capital required to execute your plan, or the amount of time things will take. You might lose an investor or a partner along the way who you thought were instrumental to the plan. You might find the friends you have need to change, or the comforts you currently enjoy need to be sacrificed.
Be prepared for the discomfort that comes with these things, and power through. I am not suggesting you ignore the obvious signs telling you there is something wrong with your plan, but don’t let the signs stop you from moving forward somehow. You have to stay in the boat and keep your paddle moving.
Not Everyone Will Share Your Beliefs
It’s been my experience that some people around you may become uncomfortable with your vision. This can be a result of them feeling like you are leaving them behind, or of you becoming someone different. You may need to work hard at nurturing and helping those around you stay with you for the ride, or you may need to let go of some relationships to achieve your vision. Surround yourself with people who will support you and help propel you towards your vision.
There is a lot to consider when you step out into the unknown, and there is not just one way to get to where you want to be. Once you are clear on where your going, be honest with where you currently are, understand what the gap looks like, plan each day around closing that gap, accept there will be challenges to overcome, and most importantly, start.