In his book, What They Don’t Teach You In The Harvard Business School, Mark McCormack mentions some interesting statistics about setting and achieving goals. In 1979, a poll was conducted of new graduates from Harvard’s MBA Program and found that:
A decade later, the researchers tracked down and polled those same graduates. The amazing results were:
We all know that you have to set a goal to obtain it. It's like taking a journey to a new city. After you decide what city you're going to, you need to use a map or GPS to make your plan to get there. Otherwise, you’ll risk the possibility of getting lost along the way. There’s nothing wrong with spontaneity and adventure, and we all know that saying about life – about how it’s not the destination, it’s the journey – but, obviously, wandering around without a clue can be pretty inefficient, as well as stressful.
The bottom line? To get what you want, make a plan. Making a plan helps you to make the commitment that is necessary to actually make the change you wish to see in your life. Taking the time to do so is solely up to you. No one else can do it but you.
Schedule A Personal Planning Retreat
To get what you want, schedule regular personal planning retreats with yourself. It doesn’t have to be fancy unless you want it to be. A comfortable chair in a special coffee shop with a picturesque view might be all you need. But if you like the idea of pampering yourself by taking a weekend away to a place you can relax, unwind, and do some introspection, then by all means, go for it.
Here are 4 tips for a successful personal planning retreat:
1. Create uninterrupted space and time for yourself – put the date on your calendar and protect it like you would a vacation day. No kids, no managers, no employees, no significant others demanding your time. No electronic communication devices either... that is unless you are using something strictly for typing your plan. You must truly think of this as YOUR time.
2. It’s up to you how often you want to have your personal planning retreats. You can make this an annual event, perhaps on your birthday. Of course, you might also find it useful to schedule your retreats more frequently. Some people enjoy this process so much that they schedule bi-annual or quarterly retreats.
3. Ideally, give yourself a half day to a whole day away from the normal distractions. This is a time when you will do a lot of inner reflection, so it’s wise to go to a different place where you can enjoy solitude if at all possible. Get out of the house or away from the office, turn off the phone and give yourself permission to think without distractions.
4. During your personal planning retreat, it's a good idea to start off by asking yourself questions to check in and see where you are mentally. When you answer the question, you are making an affirmative statement, which is a powerful goal achieving technique. You can take a journaling approach to this if you’d like. Or you can simply use a list of questions like the general ones below:
What is my intention?
OR, to be more specific...
What is my one big project to complete/problem to solve?
What do I need to reach success?
Break it down further...
- What knowledge/skills?
- What external support system?
- What physical needs/resources?
Bonus Tip: Set Timelines
It's one thing to state what you want to do and what you need to get there, but until you put some timelines on these items, it's all academic. I had a general intention to write a book for 4 years. It didn't actually happen until I wrote the dream on a piece of paper, broke down the action steps, and then put everything on the calendar.
Let's face it, getting what you want requires a will to do it, but it also requires a plan with timelines!
What Do You Want?
What do you want in your life? If you feel a little overwhelmed by that question, you might consider looking at the three major quadrants of your life, personal, professional and social. Come up with a goal for each area.
Maybe you've been thinking of a career move you'd like to make but have been putting off. Even if it’s not quite the right time yet for the move, maybe you’d like to dream a little and make a plan for the move as if you were ready. Why not? Just think of how improved your life will be when you earn more like those Harvard grads because you wrote down your goals and a plan to reach them.
Or maybe you’d prefer to keep your goals simple. Maybe you just want to generally improve yourself. You could decide to focus, say, on practicing "gratitude" once or twice a day for a week and then switch to practicing "giving to others" once or twice a day for a week and so on. Make a plan for that kind of weekly focus and put it on your calendar.
This is about what you want in life. It’s up to you to go for it.
“Nothing happens unless first a dream.” ~Carl Sandburg
Angela Loëb is an author, speaker and self-development consultant who loves to study, teach, and write about mind mastery, spirituality, career, and life purpose. More at http://about.me/angelarloeb