One of life’s great questions is, “How do I win?” You may be trying to win a man or woman’s affections, get a good grade, a promotion, build a profitable company or develop deep friendships but at the core of those pursuits is this question. I’ve found that the times in my life that I’ve consistently won is when I’ve had a system of attack on the problem. Sometimes I’m completely unaware that I’m using a system until after the fact. I see other people who swear they have no system at all but I can see the patterns in their life that stem from the systems they use.
Whether you are aware of the systems in your life or not, I hope seeing one that I’ve developed may help you refine the ones you have. Alternatively, you can help me break and redo mine! I call this one “GEAR UP.” It is the system at a high level that I will teach my kids to help them be the best them they can be.
- Goals – Decide what you want and set actionable, measurable goals to get there. Go from big picture practical steps. You may do this as yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals and action steps or you may just say you know where you want to go and what the very next thing you need is. Either way, know the destination and the path to get there. Don’t set your goals at more than 6-12 months out. Anything beyond that is too uncertain and subject to change with all the variables. Let anything beyond 12 months be a dream that your 6-12 month goals will take you a step closer to. But keep your goals independently worthwhile so that if your long-range dreams change your goals were still worth accomplishing.
- Education – If you want to do something you haven’t done before, you most likely don’t know how to do it. (Profound insight, huh?) Find out what resources you need to learn, get them begin educating yourself prior to and during the actionable part of your plan. Don’t allow not knowing everything to paralyze your actions. Remember, the key to all success is action. Many people plan and many people have knowledge, few actually get up and do something with it.
- Action & Accountability – Nothing happens until someone takes action. And usually no action is taken consistently unless there is some sort of accountability. Either to yourself with rewards and consequences or with someone you trust to hold you accountable to your plans and goals. Spouses are not usually the ones to do this with, but can be. Remember that most people act to avoid pain, not to achieve pleasure. So make sure you know the dream but also the consequences of not acting.
- Reflection & Review – The unexamined life isn’t worth living. Just like a ship with navigation controls, you need to constantly check your course and make adjustments as needed to stay on the right track. Sometimes it may be realizing you set your goals too high (or too far off) at first, sometimes that you set them too low. Maybe you planned as well as you knew how, but unforeseen circumstances require you to take an alternate course or just make adjustments to how you were running your course to the big picture goal you set. Sometimes you just need to reflect on the process so far and see if you’ve been enjoying it and how to make it better. Also if you need encouragement in your pursuits, reflecting on how far you’ve come can be a great refresher on the path to your goals.
- Under Pressure – You have to put timeframes on your goals and have rewards and/or consequences that are meaningful to you set based on those timeframes and goals. If you are not under pressure to do the daily & weekly things it takes to accomplish your stated goals, you won’t accomplish them. You’ll do what we all do, the other things you have that do have urgency because of the rewards and/or consequences they have attached to them.
So what do you think? Is this a workable system? What is missing? What is flat out wrong? Break it, add to it, make it yours. Let me know what you think.
Stay tuned next for part 3 where I’ll talk about what you have to do before any system is worth squat.