Loretta Staples, a Strategy Consultant, now Therapist, once stated, “If you are clear about what you want, the world responds with clarity.” Whether you’re taking a vacation, building a dream home, or managing a large project, periodically identifying where you are now to where you want to be, helps you focus firmly on the results you want to achieve. Call them milestones or checkpoints; they serve an essential purpose—time to reflect on how far you have come, what you still need to do, and if you’re currently on track.
History can teach us many lessons, not the least of which is with determination, commitment, and oversight you CAN do the impossible. Let’s look at Stonehenge, England, for example. Built approximately 5,000 years ago, its Neolithic builders somehow floated, hauled, and dragged 30 16-foot high stones, the largest weighing 50 tons, from Wales to Stonehenge – a staggering 250 miles!
There are no written records to show how it was built (scientists are still trying to figure that out) or why. One thing is for sure; the builders had to carefully plan how to transport these gigantic stones and erect them. To make sure they were on target, they also had to check and re-check their progress against their envisioned results along the way; or as my grandma would say, “take stock.” To do otherwise was to ensure failure.
In today’s world, to achieve results, successful people must take stock along the way.
Taking stock is a 3-step process!
Those creative builders had a clear picture of what they wanted to create. To turn it into reality, as we need to do today, they took stock periodically as they moved their plan forward—a 3-step process— (1) where am I now, (2) what do I need now to continue moving forward and (3) am I still on target?
Sometimes this process is painful, especially when discovering you took a wrong turn or two. Isn’t it much more economical, money and time-wise, to have periodic checkpoints and make small corrections along the way rather than wait until the end and find you need a massive redo?
Taking stock can mean the difference between success and failure.
Step One: Where am I now?
Taking a periodic checkpoint to see what you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come gives you a sense of what needs to happen next to close the gap between now and where you want to be. Just like those ancient builders, ask yourself, thought-provoking questions:
- What did I do well?
- What changes do I need to make?
- How far have I come?
- Am I where I expected to be, am I ahead of schedule, or am I behind schedule?
Step Two: What do I need now to continue?
Ancient builders had to be resourceful and creative. They didn’t have Home Depot to find the right tools. They determined what jobs they needed to do, looked at what was available, and often repurposed their tools to fit the situations at hand. And if they didn’t have what they needed, they invented it! Neolithic laborers used pieces of antlers to dig through the chalky ground and create massive earthworks at Stonehenge. Can you imagine? Amazing stuff!
What do you need to continue toward your goals, such as determining the resources required and where to find them? Perhaps, as the ancients did, you can use your skills and tools in ways you did not think of before. Be creative. You can always get a coach or mentor to help you think outside the box or ask colleagues to brainstorm with you.
Step Three: Am I still on target?
Keep your eyes on the prize. With what you have done so far, are you still aimed in the right direction? To be successful and thrive, you need to stretch and reach outside of your comfort zone to achieve the desired results. People sabotage themselves by becoming distracted or focused on doing merely quick and easy things.
If you’re behind where you first wanted to be at this checkpoint, could you be sabotaging yourself? If so, determine what it will take to get back on course. Again, having a coach or mentor may help or asking colleagues to be your supporters will make it less daunting. Either of these could also be an accountability partner to help keep you on track.
Yet, as we discover more about what we can do and what we like, the target may change, or, at least, bend a bit to the left or right. If this is the case, what do you need to do to set a new course?
Stop whining and get moving!
Being a recovering procrastinator, from time to time, I need to remind myself to stop whining and get moving! Life is hectic, fast-moving, and loaded with things to do—all excuses for not doing what will make me and you succeed. Successful people focus on those things that will make them thrive rather than those things that make them busy. Which do you choose?
Be a thriver, not a survivor! OK, I made up a new word, but it works for me. Let it work for you!