How to capitalize on the gap between where we are now and where we would like to end up.

This week we are exploring a goal-setting methodology from Trent Hamm called “Developing a Real Plan for a Better Life.”

Yesterday, we looked at step one: selecting the areas of our life we want to focus on.

Today, we turn to steps two, three, and four.  We start by blocking off some quiet time to do the necessary work.  

“While it’s great to give this process some off-the-cuff thoughts, the whole plan turns out far better and far more realistic and meaningful if you actually wall off some time to make a good plan,” writes Trent.  He blocks off an entire day to do this work.  In my experience, by reducing the number of categories we focus on, we can reduce the amount of time required.

After selecting the areas of our life we want to focus on, we turn to step two which involves writing about where we currently stand in each of these areas of our life.  Think “state of the state” for this aspect of your life.

* Do I generally feel good about it, or not so good?  Why?  

* What parts of this area are going well right now?  What’s good about this area?

* What isn’t working?  

* What makes me happy?  

* What makes me sad?

Next, for step three, we look into the future and envision what our lives would look like in five or ten years if we saw some significant progress in each area of our life.  For each category, we write a paragraph or two about what life would be like if we were to find reasonable success from our own efforts in this specific area.  

Trent writes: “If I put in a few hours a week into this area of my life for the next few years, what might I achieve?  For example, if you were to exercise for three hours a week for the next five years, what would that look like in terms of my physical body?”

“Nothing world-breaking,” writes Trent, “but something I’d be very happy with.”

The key here is to focus on changes that are largely under our control.

Steps two and three together put our subconscious mind to work to our advantage.  We have specifically outlined the gap between our current state and our desired future state.  Our subconscious mind does not like this gap and goes to work closing it – which is one of the key reasons goal-setting works.

Step four involves making a specific list for each life category of five, ten, or fifteen specific things we might do to move our life from where it is now towards our desired future outcome.  We ask ourselves: “What action steps and projects would I need to take on?  What might I do over the next few years that would help move me from point A to point B?”   Again, we want to focus on actions we control.  

We are brainstorming, getting as many thoughts and ideas on paper as possible.  The more, the better!  We are not committing ourselves to doing all of these actions or projects.  Instead, to discover the best ideas, it is smart to begin by listing as many as possible.  

“What will happen as you move through this process,” writes Trent, “is that you come up with a lot of things you could do to build a better life – an overwhelming number, in fact. Don’t worry about it yet – you’re not done.”

More tomorrow.

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Reflection: Where am I currently in each of the key areas of my life?  What would I like each area of my life to look like in five years? What are 10-15 specific actions I could take to make progress in each area of my life?

Action:  Journal about the above.

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