Finding Clarity in 2020
Goal setting can be hard, very hard. What should you choose to focus on, who should you ask to help you and how will you make the goal a reality?
This is the problem many people realize January 1st, hours after beginning a new goal. Today, I want you to step back from your New Year’s goals and begin a journey with me to discover how you can set yourself and your goals up for success in 2020.
Gain Clarity by Meeting Your Future Self
Clarity is defined as something that is coherent and intelligible; something that is easily grasped and understood. Creating clarity around our goals is paramount to our success.
How do we begin to be more clear in what we want? Where does it come from? Is it a flash of inspiration, a quote that motivates us or is it something deeper?
While these questions are important, they will not make our goals clear to us. To make goals clear we must begin asking ourselves questions. Questions like; who are we, what do we want to achieve and how do we plan to achieve these goals?
Asking ourselves these questions means that our goals are born of our deepest desires, not from our thoughts in the current moment. Questions like this require us to envision our future self and ask what that person did to get there. By focusing on the future, we can postulate about how we can develop professionally and personally to achieve excellence.
This future vision means that we will begin laying out the foundation of who we WANT to be, not who we are currently. When you first undertake this “future you” exercise it will be difficult. You may never have considered who you will be 5, 10 or 20 years in the future. Take your time, think of everything you wish to see, do and achieve. Once you have done this; revisit this exercise weekly. Update your vision based upon your new interests and passions. By envisioning your future self, clearly, you will be able to make sure your present self is taking steps toward becoming that person.
Brenden Burchard has a great daily exercise to help you leverage this vision of your future self. In his book, High Performance Habits, he asks his clients to answer three questions relative to their future selves:
1. Describe your current interactions over the last month with clients, strangers and your family.
2. Now ask yourself; “Is this how/who future me acts/is?” “How would future me rate these interactions?”
3. Describe in 3 words who future you has become. Think about why you chose these words. Once you pick your final 3 words add them to an alarm, post-it or other visual area to remind you who you want to be in the future.
Once you have met who you want to be, you will have a clear picture of what you’re striving to become. With this persona established, anytime a conflict, situation or challenge presents itself you need only ask yourself, “How would my future self handle this situation?” “How would my future self handle this situation?”
You’ve Met Future You; Now What?
Now that we have a clear vision of who we want to become we can begin to set goals and our actions to achieve them. These goals will be set around the skills, habits and values you will stand for.
First, we will need to begin to develop the skills we will need to succeed. This can be done by identifying the three major skills you think will need to be mastered for your future self to come about. Maybe they are family related or maybe they are related to a specialty you have interest in. Either way you want to focus on specific areas of interest to you.
This is where many people begin to flag. They see too many shiny objects and try to learn too many skills at once. This means that you never really master the 1-3 skills that future you requires current you to master.
I have been guilty of this myself. When I started Operators to Owners I took on podcasting, masterminds, coaching, blogging and social media all at once. Future me would just shake his head at me and say, “Have to know a little of everything Eric don’t you….” I have payed the price for my lack of focus by one bout of burnout and slower progress in each area than I would like. This taught me the hard lesson that you need clarity FIRST, so can be sure to focus on the development of ONLY the key skills future you needs.
So, how do we being to identify the skills we need to focus on now? First, we need to identify the area we want to focus in on; ie your primary interest. This could be become a better parent, spouse, improve your diagnostic skills, create a new service or develop your business. Once you have identified your primary interest, begin searching for three common skills that make people experts in that field.
Once you identify and select three skills begin brainstorming specific examples of how you can develop that skill. Do you need to buy a book, find a mentor, go back to school or get more repetitions doing it? When will you be able to implement these development steps? Begin to formulate a schedule that will allow you to be exposed to the things and people that can help develop these skills.
Finally, bring your future self back into the equation. Start your skill list over again, but this time focus in on the skills future you will need in 5, 10 or 20 years. Begin identifying these skills now and seek out opportunities where you can be exposed to them so that you have these skills better developed in the future.
Bridging the Gap Between You and Future You
With your new clarity into who you want to be and the skills it will take to become that person, it is time to revise your goals. Your new goals will be the catalyst that helps transform current you into future you.
These new goals will focus on three major areas; yourself, your skills and your interactions. First, you will focus on the three words you used to describe your future self above. Write these words down and then determine how you will externally express these words in the coming week.
For example, if I want to be innovative in 2020 then I’m going to look for 1 thing I can improve or innovate at one client each week and pursue changing that single thing. Or if you wanted to be more caring maybe you’re going to wake up early and make your wife or husband breakfast once per week. No matter how you do manifest this word into action the action will become your new “goal” for 2020.
The second thing you will need to focus on are your skills. Once you have selected your three current and three future skills you will want to list them. Once per week you will seek out an avenue to practice, learn about or be mentored on one of these skills. Over time, this effort will compound and begin to help mold you into your future self.
Finally, seek to improve your interactions. Make sure your actions are congruent with the three words you used to describe yourself and be sure that you are treating people in alignment with them. Seek to improve on this by reaching out to people in your lives X amount of times per week with the intention of implementing or building on one of these words.
This can be as simple as saying you want to be more giving and gifting a book, flowers or candy to a loved one. Or it could manifest as you writing out a thank you email, text or letter if you want to express gratitude. By seeking to apply at least one of your words, skills or interactions per week you will begin to mold current you into your future desired self.
Creating Successful Actions
Be specific and intentional about the goals you create. By setting a time and date for your new actions your will have less chance of skipping them or ignoring them. You should also add measurable outcomes to each of these goals to really give yourself more drive to complete them!
Finally, write down how you would describe future you, the words associated with that person and how you intend to become that person. A study conducted in 2015 found that people who write down goals such as these are 33% more likely to actually become/complete them than those who did not.
Making this vision for future you a reality can take some time. But once you have cast the vision it will be with you forever. Begin today by envisioning who you want to be and see who you meet!
Carry on OTO’ers
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