The #1 question I am asked is “How do I get from here to there”. It’s a great question as it suggests that we often have an understanding of what we want. The challenge is how to change our current reality! We are so often buried in the demands of everyday life that it feels impossible to move forward and make a change. We don’t know where to start!
The good news is that it is possible to make changes in your current reality that will take you towards your dream! Here are 5 steps to do that.
Develop Your Vision
Name your vision or dream. Imagine what you want and write it down. “If my life was perfect I would like to __________.” It is common for the vision to be many years away – that is perfect. What matters is to start by allowing yourself to explore what you want. What would you be doing at work and/or leisure? What kind of lifestyle do you want?
Did I hear a ‘but’? That’s normal. Those ‘buts’ will be there, don’t focus on them. Put them aside during the visioning process. There will be lots of time to address these later.
Clarify Your Vision
Think about this vision. What is one concrete goal, that if you accomplished it, would signal to you that you are making progress? This step can take you closer to what the vision is all about – your values. When we clarify our vision we learn to unearth our core values. By learning to fulfill our core values each day we can focus on a meaningful career journey.
To help you understand this, consider the following. Two people may both have dreams of becoming experts in their professional fields. One may set a goal of publishing an article in a professional journal while the other sets a goal of mentoring a young protégé. The first person values recognition whereas the second values service to others. Both have a vision that sounds similar at first. When they articulate their goal, they get closer to their values and what they need from their work.
Understand Your Current Position Relative To Your Vision
Movement towards your vision requires an understanding of your current assets. What are your skills, knowledge, attitudes, characteristics, finances, and commitments? How clear are you about what you already have? How can this help you move toward your vision? Do you already have the skills you need?
When you realize there is a gap between your current reality and your vision, you may feel some tension. Perhaps you are saying to yourself “It’s too far away”. Don’t let that deter you. Acknowledge that there is work to be done. The gaps between your current reality and your vision point you to where you need to make changes. For example, there may be skills you need to learn to move forward.
Identify Obstacles To Reaching Your Goals
Sometimes there are roadblocks on the path. These barriers may be internal (e.g., a tendency towards procrastination). Barriers can also be external (e.g., too many family responsibilities). Identifying these is the first step to getting over, around or through them.
Consider what may stand between you and your goal. Brainstorm options to move through these challenges. Be creative. Come up with every idea you can think of that will get you through your challenges and move you forward to your goal. In the world you live in right now, what steps can you take this year to move you closer? What steps can you take this month? What steps can you take this week? What can you do right now?
Develop Short-Term Goals and an Action Plan
One of the most important things to do to gain forward movement is to make decisions about the short-term. These goals are stepping stones or building blocks. Set small achievable goals now.
An action plan identifies specific steps and timelines that will help. Plan to do one small task each day that brings you closer to your desired goals. Doing so will ensure that you are bringing your goals to fruition.
Let Yourself off the Hook!
At this point, you may be thinking “This still sounds too difficult to achieve!” There is a reason for this. I recently presented to a group who had extensive post-secondary education. They had studied their profession in detail. I asked the group what percentage of their schooling taught them how to manage their career. Their answer was a loud and unanimous 0%!
You don’t have to do this alone. It’s OK to ask for help.
You can get from here to there!
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Photo “Long Journey Ahead” courtesy of Sam