Most us have dreams and aspirations. Coupled with skills and experience, our vision can create wonderful new works of products and services that help other people, improve the environment, and make the world a better place. Yet most of us also struggle to find a way for our actions to meet our dreams.
There are four characteristics of high achievers, those that see their dreams to fruition through hard work and dedication. These four elements are:
- Clarifying goals and challenges;
- Designing a strong, action-oriented plan;
- Following the plan with specific actions and adapting to change; and
- Maintaining momentum with a support network.
There is a difference between dreams and goals. Dreams are something we talk about, sort of knowing it might not ever happen. I’d like to take a Nile River cruise and I dream about hiking the Appalachian Trail. But, if I really inspect my heart and intentions, I know that I’d never get enough time off to hike steadily for six months. Moreover, I never object to a nice long, hot shower after a day of hiking which isn’t possible on the AT.
In contrast, I do have goals to broaden my business with new Situational Leadership training, update my book on New Product Development Professional (NPDP) certification prep, and to continue facilitating growth through training for both individuals and client organizations. These are objectives that I can list tasks to complete and that I take daily action toward reaching these goals. I see the specific steps I need to take to achieve the goals, and I am fully energized and passionate to do the work.
To hike the Appalachian Trail, a person needs to have the right gear, be independent, and of sturdy character. I love hiking and I prefer to be outside in my free time. But the greatest action I’ve ever taken toward that dream is to chat with “through hikers” while I’m in the Smoky Mountains. I don’t even have a map of the trail. It’s just a dream.
Yet, my business goals have specific action plans associated with them. To achieve goals, you must develop a strong, action-oriented plan. Goals are big and can be overwhelming if you look only at the final product. However, it can be easier to reach the goal if you break it down into specific actions. In project management, we call this the work breakdown structure (WBS).
The WBS takes a project and decomposes it into deliverables and milestones. Then each of these is further decomposed into measurable work tasks and activities. In Project Management Professional (PMP®) prep courses, I teach that the lowest level of the WBS hierarchy is a task or activity that can be completed by one person or one work team during a single work shift.
We can do the same thing for our business, innovation, and personal goals. What specific activity will you take this week or this month to help you reach your goals? What task is of highest importance or priority to achieve the goal. For which tasks do you need outside help and how will you get that assistance?
By literally writing down the specific actions you plan to take in the short-, medium-, and long-term, you will convert dreams into achievable goals.
Implement and Adapt
Plans are great, but results are better. We must actually take action on the tasks we list to achieve our goals. The tasks and activities that sum up to a deliverable should demonstrate tangible and realistic progress toward the overall objective.
For example, you may have a goal to write a book. To do so, you will need to break down that overall objective into measurable tasks and activities. These deliverables might include:
- Create an outline,
- Develop a chapter structure,
- Design the cover art, and
- Highlight index terms.
To make progress on a routine basis, you may implement a meeting schedule for two hours every day so that you can complete a chapter every two weeks.
Success follows the implementation of a plan. However, following a plan just for the sake of the plan is not always a wise move. As you begin writing your book, you may need to adapt the outline to fit a new line of research. Successful completion of goals often requires flexibility and change as we learn more about the requirements and manage complexities in meeting objectives.
A Support Network
Research shows that a common characteristic of successful leaders is a support network. People need accountability to achieve challenging goals. A network of peers that helps you to brainstorm solutions to challenges and design actionable steps is invaluable.
Support networks are generated from a group of like-minded individuals that are facing similar challenges. If you are writing your first book, you will find support in a peer group of other first time writers. Because each person faces similar challenges, they will hold you accountable to write 500 words a day and to hire an affordable editor.
Many people find support through master mind groups. A master mind group is a b lend of training, peer-coaching, and accountability to help you meet your goals. While some master mind group might run at no cost, to achieve the highest level goals and to share commitment to achieving those objectives, you should prepare to invest in achieving your goals. Accountability to yourself and the group can accelerate with an appropriate investment of time, money, and effort.
For instance, I spent time in a master mind group to earn a certificate in Collaborative Consulting. We discussed challenges that we faced in our consulting practices currently and I benefited greatly from hearing stories from the other group members on how they had addressed similar challenges. Likewise, having a sounding board where I could bounce ideas was infinitely valuable in growing several aspects of my business.
How to Achieve Your Goals
Goals and dream are different. Dreams are fantasies that we chat with friends over wine and dessert. Goals are challenges we set out to achieve in a given time frame to improve our lives, our businesses, and the environment around us. Achievement requires describing the goal succinctly and clarifying the specific, measurable outcome.
Once we can state our goals clearly, we need to design a strong, action-oriented plan. Every day, we must follow our plan to complete the tasks and activities that drive delivery of the overall goal. Of course, as we learn more about the situation and the challenges, we should adapt our plans appropriately.
Finally, it’s important to develop a trusting support network of like-minded peers to hold us accountable. Investing in a master mind group will help us reach success through brainstorming, encouragement, and commitment. No one achieves success without the back-up of a team of caring and sharing advisors.
To achieve your goals and to address your toughest innovation challenges, please contact me about membership in the Innovation Master Mind (IMM) group. IMM is a 6-month peer coaching group that allows you to extend your NPD knowledge beyond NPDP certification and to collaborate with other CIOs and innovation managers. I also offer one-on-one coaching and New Product Development Professional (NPDP) training to help you target specific innovation knowledge areas. So, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-280-8717 to learn more. I love helping individuals, teams, and organizations achieve their highest strategic innovation goals!
Also, I’ve just launched my business Facebook page. Please follow and like Global NP Solutions at https://www.facebook.com/globlnpd/.
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