Goals: Start at the Beginning

01/03/2023by dang tin0

Start at the Beginning

“Your problem is to bridge the gap between where you are now and the goals you intend to reach.” By Earl Nightingale

Imagine that you were going to take a long trip across the country. The first thing you would do would be to choose your destination and then get a road map to determine the very best way to get there. Each day, before you started out, you would locate yourself on a map relative to where you are and where you plan to go in the hours ahead. Life is very much the same.

Once you have decided upon your values, vision, mission, purpose and goals, the next step is for you to analyze your starting point. Exactly where are you today, and how are you doing, in each of the important areas of your life, especially as they relate to your goals?

Practice The Reality Principle

Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric for many years, once said that the most important quality of leadership is the “reality principle.” He defined this as the ability to see the world as it really is, not as you wish it were. He would begin every meeting to discuss a goal or a problem with the question, “What’s the reality?”

Peter Drucker refers to this quality as “intellectual honesty,” dealing with the facts exactly as they are before attempting to solve a problem or make a decision. Abraham Maslow once wrote that the first quality of the self-actualizing person was the ability to be completely honest and objective with himself, or herself. It is the same with you.

If you want to be the best you can be, and to achieve what is truly possible for you, you must be brutally honest with yourself and your point of departure. You must sit down and analyze yourself in detail to decide exactly where you are today in each area.

Start At The Beginning

For example, if you decided to lose weight, the very first thing you would do is to weigh yourself to determine how much you weight today. From then on, you continually use that weight as your measure for whether or not you are making progress in weight reduction.

If you decide to begin a personal exercise program, the first thing you do is to determine how much you are exercising today. How many minutes per day and per week are you exercising, and how intensely each time? What kind of exercises are you doing? Whatever your answer, it is important that you be as accurate as you possibly can. You then use this answer as a starting point and make your exercise plans for the future based on it.

Determine Your Hourly Rate

If you want to earn more money, the first thing you do is sit down and determine exactly how much you are earning right now. How much did you earn last year, and the year before? How much will you earn this year? How much are you earning each month? The best measure of all is for you to determine how much you are earning each hour, right now.

You can determine your hourly rate by dividing your annual income by 2000, the approximate number of hours that you work each year. Even better, you can divide your monthly income by 172, the number of hours you work, on average, each month.

Many of my coaching clients calculate their hourly rate each week, and compare it against previous weeks. They then set a goal to increase the value of what they do each hour so as to increase the amount they earn each hour on a go-forward basis. You should do the same.

Tight Time or Financial Measures Improve Performance

The tighter and more accurate your calculations regarding your income, or any other area, the better and faster you can improve in each one of them. For example, the average person thinks in terms of monthly and annual salary. This is hard to analyze and increase. Conversely, the high performer thinks in terms of hourly rate, which is amenable to improvements on a minute-to-minute basis.

Since you are the president of your own personal services corporation, you should view yourself as being on your own payroll. Imagine you are paying yourself by the hour. Be just as demanding on yourself as you would be on someone else who was working for you. Refuse to do anything that doesn’t pay your desired hourly rate.

Your Current Net Worth

If you have set a long-term financial goal, the next step is for you to determine exactly how much you are worth today, in financial terms. If your goal is to become a millionaire in the years ahead, you must calculate exactly how much you have accumulated as of today’s date.

Most people are confused or dishonest about this calculation. Your true dollar net worth is the amount that you would have left over if you sold everything you own today at what the market would pay, and then paid off all your bills, prior to leaving the country.

Many people place a high value on their personal possessions. They think that their clothes, cars, furniture and electronics are worth a lot of money. But the true value of these items is usually not more than 10% or 20% of what you paid, and sometimes less.

Develop Long Term Financial Plans

For accurate financial planning, calculate your net worth today and then draw a line from that point to your long-term financial goal.
Divide the line by the number of years you intend to spend to achieve that financial goal. In this way, you will know exactly how much you have to save, invest and accumulate each year in order to become financially independent.

Is your goal realistic, based on where you are today and the time that you have allocated to get to where you want to go? If your goal is not realistic, force yourself to be completely honest and revise both your calculations and your projections.

Practice Zero Based Thinking

When you begin to plan your long-term future, one of the most valuable exercises you can engage in is called “zero based thinking.” In zero based thinking, you ask this question, “Knowing what I now know, is there anything that I am doing today that I wouldn’t start up again today, if I had to do it over, knowing what I now know?”

No matter who you are or what you are doing, there are certain things in your life that, knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t get into again today if you had them to do over.

It is difficult, if not impossible, for you to make progress in your life if you allow yourself to be held back by decisions you have made in the past. If there is something in your life that you wouldn’t get into again today, your next question is, “How do I get out, and how fast?”

Apply zero based thinking to the people in your life, both business and personal. Is there any relationship in your life, that knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t get into? Is there any person that you have hired, assigned or promoted that, knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t hire back again today? Is there any person that you are working with or for that, knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t get involved with again today? Be perfectly honest with yourself when you ask and answer these questions.

Evaluate Each Area of Your Life

Examine every aspect of your work life and career. Is there any job that you have taken on that, knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t get into? Is there any part of your business or work, that knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t start up again? Is there any activity, process, product, service or expenditure in your business that, knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t embark upon again today, if you had to do it over?

After people and work considerations, look at your investments. Is there any investment of time, money or emotion that, knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t get into again today, if you had to do it over? If the answer is “no”, how do you get out, and how fast?

Be Prepared to Make Necessary Changes

I have a good friend who was a golfer in high school and university. As a bachelor, he played golf several times a week. He organized his entire life around golf, even flying south in the winter to golf courses that had no snow on them.

Over time, he started and built a business, got married and had children. But he was still “locked in” to the idea of playing golf several times a week. Eventually, the enormous time commitment of playing golf began to affect his business, his married life and his relationship with his children.

When the stress became too great, he sat down and zero based his activities. He realized that, knowing what he now knew, in his current situation, the golf would have to be cut back dramatically if he was going to achieve other things in his life that were now more important. By reducing his golfing time, he got his whole life back into balance in just a few weeks. How might this principle apply to you? What major time consuming activities should you reduce or eliminate?

Circumstances Are Continually Changing

Fully 70% of the decisions that you make will turn out to be wrong in the fullness of time. When you made the decision or commitment, it was probably a good idea, based on the circumstances of the moment. But now, the situation may have changed and it is time to “zero base” it based on the way things are today.

You can usually tell if you are in a zero based thinking situation because of the stress that it causes. Whenever you are involved in something that knowing what you now know, you wouldn’t get into, you experience ongoing stress, aggravation, irritation and anger.

Sometimes people spend an enormous amount of time trying to make a business or personal relationship succeed. But if you zero base this relationship, the correct solution is often to get out of the relationship altogether. The only real question is whether or not you have the courage to admit that you were wrong and take the necessary steps to correct the situation.

What Is Holding You Back?

If you want to earn a certain amount of money, ask yourself, “why am I not I earning this amount of money already?” What is holding you back? What is the major reason that you are not already earning what you want to earn? Again, you must be perfectly honest with yourself.

Look around you and identify people who are earning the kind of money that you want to earn. What are they doing differently from you? What special skills and abilities have they developed that you have not yet developed? What skills and abilities do you need to acquire if you want to earn the same kind of money they are earning? If you are not sure, go and ask them. Find out. This is too important for guesswork or chance.

Determine Your Level of Skills And Ability

Do a skills inventory on yourself. First, identify the key result areas of your work. These are the tasks that you absolutely, positively have to fulfill in an excellent fashion in order to do your job well. What are they?

In every job there are seldom more than 5-7 key result areas. These are critical tasks. You must be excellent at each one of them in order to do the whole job for which you are paid. You must be good at every one of these tasks if you want to earn the kind of money that you are capable of earning.

Here is an important discovery: Your weakest key skill sets the height at which you can use all your other skills. Your weakest key result area, whatever it is, determines your income in your field. You can be absolutely excellent at everything except for one key skill, and that skill will hold you back, every step of the way.

In what area, at which skill are you the very best at what you do? What particular skill, or combination of skills, is responsible for your success in your career to date? What is it that you do as well or better than anyone else?

Identify Your Weakest Areas

Once you have answered these questions, you then look at yourself in the mirror and ask, “What are my weakest skill areas?” Where are you below average or poor? What is it that you do poorly that interferes with your ability to use your other skills? What is it that you do poorly, that other people do better than you? Especially, what key skills do you lack that are essential for your success? Whatever they are, you need to identify them accurately and honestly and then make a plan to improve in each area. (We will discuss this in depth in a later chapter.)

Imagine Starting Over

When you embark on the achievement of any great goal, you should imagine that, at any time, you could start your career over again. Never allow yourself to feel locked in or trapped by a particular decision from the past. Keep focused on the future.

Many people today are walking away from their educations, their businesses, their industries and their years of experience and getting into something completely new and different. They are honest enough to recognize that there is a limited future in the direction they are going, and they are determined to get into something where the future possibilities are far greater. You must do the same.

In doing a baseline assessment of yourself and your life, you must face the facts, whatever they are. As Harold Geneen of ITT once said, “Facts don’t lie.” Seek out the real facts, not the obvious facts, the apparent facts, the hoped for facts or the wished for facts. The true facts are what you need to make good decisions.

Be Prepared to Reinvent Yourself

Take a hard look at your current company and industry. Take a hard look at your current job situation. Take a hard look at your market relative to your competitors. In reinventing yourself, stand back and think about starting your career over again today, knowing what you now know.

Imagine that your job and your industry disappeared overnight. Imagine that you had to make brand new career choices. If you were starting over again today, with your special combination of talents and skills, what would you choose to do that is different from what you are doing now?

Your Most Valuable Asset

Your most valuable financial asset is your earning ability. It is your ability to apply your talents and skills in the marketplace to earn money. In reality, you could lose your home, your car, your bank account, and your furniture, and be left with nothing but the clothes on your back. But as long as your earning ability was intact, you could walk across the street and begin generating a good living almost immediately.

Your earning ability is extremely precious to you. And your earning ability can be either an appreciating asset or a depreciating asset. Your earning ability can grow in value if you continue to invest in it and develop it. It can decline in value if you begin to take it for granted and start to coast on the basis of what you have done in the past.

Bundle of Resources

See yourself as a “bundle of resources,” capable of doing many different things. You have a wide variety of skills, abilities, knowledge, talents, education and experience. There are many jobs and tasks that you could do, or learn to do, extremely well. Never allow yourself to get locked in to a particular course of action, especially if you are not happy with the way things are going today.

In mentally starting over, as though you were beginning your career anew, look deeply into yourself as well. What good habits do you have that are helping you and moving you toward your goals? What bad habits have you developed that may be holding you back? What are your very best qualities of character and personality? What are your weakest qualities? What new habits and qualities do you need to develop to get the very most out of yourself, and what is your plan to begin developing them? What bad habits do you need to get rid of, and replace with good habits?

Go From Good to Great

Jim Collins in his best selling business book, Good to Great, says that you must be willing to ask the “brutal questions” of yourself and your business if you are going to identify and remove the obstacles that are preventing you from moving ahead. What are some of the brutal questions that you have to ask yourself before you launch wholeheartedly toward your goals?

Whenever I do strategic planning for a company, we start off the session with four questions. First, where are we now? We gather data and information from every part of the company to develop a crystal clear picture of our starting point, especially with regard to sales, market position and profitability.

Second, we ask, “where would we ideally like to be in the future?” We idealize and practice future orientation. We imagine that we can make the company into anything we like in the years ahead, and we create a perfect vision of what the company would look like if we were successful in every respect.

Third, we ask, “How did we get to where we are today? What did we do right? What would we do differently? What have been our biggest successes so far, and why did they occur? What have we failed at, and what were the reasons for it? As George Santayana wrote, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

The fourth question we ask and answer is always, “What do we do now, to get from where we are to where we want to go?” Based on our experience, what should we be doing more of, or less of? What should we start doing that we are not doing today? What should we stop doing altogether?

Put Together Your Own Strategic Plan

The good news is that if we have answered the first three questions accurately, the strategic plan or blueprint comes together more easily than if we were trying to plan without being clear about where we were or how we got there.

There is an old saying, “Well begun is half done.” Doctors say, “Accurate diagnosis is half the cure.” Taking the time to honestly evaluate each part of your situation before you launch toward your goal will save you months and even years on your journey. In many cases, it will force you to reevaluate your goals in the light of superior analysis and knowledge. It will dramatically improve the speed at which you achieve your goals once you get going.

Start At The Beginning:

1. Determine the reality of your current situation relative to your major goals. Where are you now, and how far do you have to go?

2. Apply the zero based thinking principle to every area of your life. What are you doing today that you wouldn’t get into again if you had it to do over, knowing what you now know?

3. Do a complete financial analysis of your life. How much are you earning today, and how much are you worth? What are your goals in these areas?

4. Do a complete skills analysis on yourself and your work. Where are you good? Where do you need to improve?

5. Determine exactly how much you earn each hour, and what it is you do to earn that amount. What do you have to do to increase your hourly rate in the months ahead?

6. Imagine your future was perfect in every way. What would have to happen to make that vision a reality?

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