Thursday, August 23, 2012

Identifying Your Plans and Their Obstacles: Building a Ladder for Reaching Any Goal

Double Helix Goal Ladders
     We set our goals with great fervor and often with great precision. We want to organize our finances by a certain date. We want to meet someone and fall in love. We want to get a job that showcases and challenges our greatest gifts. The goals are in place.
     Time passes. Things come up. As John Lennon tells us, life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. In other words, these goals you're making are often sidelined by day-to-day living and all its demands and requirements.
      If your New Year's Resolutions consistently end up in the sad dust bin of your personal history, I have an idea that might help. Even for lesser resolutions, there are a few things you might consider in order to make them actually come to pass.
     There is a reason that great and worthy goals often swirl endlessly in the eddies of our lives. The main reason is that we often fail to start with the goal and build backwards, until we identify every step necessary to reach it. Want a great romantic relationship? Wanting it is not enough. Wanting it is not a goal. Wanting it is a wish. In order for it to become an actual goal, you must first address some actual questions: What are the steps between where you are now and where you want to be that are absolutely necessary in order for you to reach that goal? What separates your life as it is right now from your life as you want it to be?
     If you systematically identify the rungs of the ladder you must climb in order to reach the place you want to be, then you have actually begun to convert your wish to a goal. You have identified the steps you must take. But that's not enough. There are two sets of realities you must take into account in order to reach your goal.
     In the process of developing your goal ladder, you must also build a parallel structure to the steps you must take toward accomplishment: this is the series of inevitable obstacles that are bound to emerge and block your progress. If you are not fully aware of the existence of these potential obstacles and their ability to sabotage the best of your intentions, they will, in fact, do so.
     A good image to illustrate the point I am making is the well known structure of DNA: the double helix. For our purposes, one side of the ladder is made up of the steps toward the identified goal. The other side is made up of the obstacles that keep us from reaching that goal. Climbing each rung means you have successfully identified and navigated the intermediate steps required for reaching your goal. It also means you have identified and overcome each obstacle in your way.
     It is simple, in that you can hold the visual image of a double helix in your mind as a template for making your plans. But climbing the rungs of the ladder you create will take discipline and faith in your ability to get where you want to go. It isn't magic. It isn't something some people are born with and others lack. It requires of you a systematic awareness and application of the big picture involved in meeting any goal you set, large or small.