Check our previous post to stay informed: Live to work or work to live. Part 2. Motivation: how to deal with unpleasant tasks.
We all like dreaming. But bringing our dreams to reality is not an easy task, which requires daily practical steps. We have already learned how to manage effectively our energy and motivation at the local level, at the level of everyday tasks. Now it’s time to think about what gives us energy at the global level: our dreams and desires. To ensure that these dreams come true, you must first convert them into goals.
Manage yourself as a company
The idea of setting goals is not obvious to many people, who don’t control their lives and go with the flow.
Stephen Covey, the famous American expert on time management, distinguishes between “reactive” and “proactive” approaches to life. “Reactive” one responds to external circumstances, life “as it happens” and “how it happens”. “Proactive” is arranging your life in accordance with your desires, active influence on the events and circumstances. We lack the “proactive” approach to life.
Any of us can find a million of convincing explanations why our dream is still not a reality. Many unfavorable external circumstances are to be blamed. But what is the use of such excuses? They still don’t bring dreams to reality.
Try not to consider yourself as a “specialist of some department” or “manager of some service”, forget for a while that you are part of a larger system, which depends on the bosses, customers, a set of rules, etc. Consider yourself a Personal Corporation. This corporation has the same controls as any other firm, for example:
- Private strategic planning – setting long-term goals;
- Marketing – the study of the labor market;
- Personal accounting – accounting and planning money etc.
Everything you know about management you can use to establish control of your corporation.
The strategy of a successful person is a strategy of the autonomous corporation, which builds its strategy itself, concludes agreements with other corporations, actively plans and implements its actions.
Successful people have a clear understanding of their goals. And most importantly, a willingness to actively implement them, regardless of the “objective external circumstances”.
The “true” objectives and vision of the future
You “proactively” plan the future of your “personal corporation” converting dreams into the long-term goals. You need to understand clearly what do you want. It is not as easy as it sounds.
Try to imagine a single day of your life in 3-5 years, not limiting yourself with what you “should” or what you think is “possible”. You’d better describe this vision of the future in writing, in the form of a 1-2 page essay. In this essay touch upon the following issues:
- How did your day begin?
- The most striking impression of the day.
- What kind of people surround you, what do they say?
- How are you working?
- What are your achievements?
- What problems did you solve?
- How do you relax?
- The main event of the day.
Perhaps this essay won’t be written in a day, don’t rush. Think over the essay for several days, edit or add something. Work with your dream and it’ll certainly materialize.
But chose your dreams and objectives very carefully. Not all dreams can be called “true”. For example, if a doctor from a small town writes that he dreams to create a medical center, it is evident that this goal is deeply comprehended. But it often happens that the goals are imposed by advertising, environment, family, social stereotypes, education system etc. Every day we are told, what we should dream about to be a “real” a successful person. In order to manage your life “proactively”, to find the “true” objectives, you must first weed out the chaff of this externally imposed stamps. It is not always easy. But it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you will spend years of your life chasing something that you don’t really need.
“Memoirs” and the definition of values
The essay “One day of my life in future” gives you an emotional picture of the desired future. The next step is to try to identify your core values which will help you to formulate the long-term goals. A simple tool for identifying personal values is ”Memoirs” conducted as follows:
- Every day in the evening spend 3-5 minutes on it.
- Make a note in a diary or in a separate notebook about the main event of the day. This is not necessarily the main result of the day or the major achievement, just something emotionally meaningful to you, both positive and negative.
- At the end of the week write down the main event of the week – one of the seven main events of the day or a new event. At the end of the month – the main event of the month. At the end of the year – the main event of the year.
You should also write down the values, which correspond to the particular event. For example, the event called “The arrival of daughter” can be accompanied by the value “Family”.
The “Memoirs” will allow you to create a list of your core values and not to lose them in the vanity of current affairs.
Personal epitaph and mission
You have taken the first step in materializing your dreams with the help of “One day of my life in future” and identified the key values of your “personal corporation” with the help of “Memoirs”. The next step is the creation of a personal mission.
The company, which decided to establish strategic planning usually begins with the creation of the mission. Some of the Western business consultants said:
- Objectives are what we take from life, we win, we get.
- Mission is what we give, what we bring into this world.
Mission is primarily your uniqueness. What will you change in the world? What will you leave to your descendants?
This question makes it reasonable to write the answer in the form of an epitaph. This exercise is not for the faint-hearted. Try to paint a beautiful tombstone and write your epitaph on it. Imagine that a man walks through the cemetery, will he stop near your grave, will he be interested in what is written on it? Will he have a desire to read your book or memoir?
If an epitaph seems too rigid method for you, then compose a farewell speech at your retirement. The purpose is the same: summarize “what will be left when it’s over”.
A personal mission or epitaph is not a fast-acting tool. An epitaph is usually reconsidered and corrected from time to time.
A mission sometimes turns into a vocation. The difference is simple: you can change the mission on your own, but not a vocation. A vacation is when you realize that nobody can do it except you. It takes your freedom away while giving the highest degree of meaningfulness of life, happiness, strength, and energy to achieve goals. It’s a quite little-studied question, so there are no ready-made technologies of “searching for a vocation”. Just keep this in mind and your vocation will gradually become clear.
Key areas of your life
After the first steps in determining the long-term vision of your life, it is useful to identify the key areas on which your life can be divided. This will help you to see a clear structure and move to a more balanced life while maintaining the harmony of the various activities.
Key areas are a number (5-9) of main activities. For example:
- Personal Development / Professional Development / Education.
- Family / Children / Relatives.
- Friends / Acquaintances / Professional Community / Public activity.
- Hobbies / Interests.
- Jobs / Business / Clients / Subordinate / Projects.
- Sport / Health.
- Welfare / Career etc.
If it’s difficult to create a list of key areas, take 30-40 paper cards and write your normal daily activities on them. Then make 5-7 groups of similar tasks. And then you’ll just have to give the name to each group. Your key areas are ready.
“Life management” and life goals
“Time management” is not a very precise term. We can’t manage time, we mean “manage ourselves”. Managing our goals, objectives, timelines, plans, etc. So, the term “life management” reflects the evolution of the modern time management: from narrow technical issues of planning time – to searching deeper understanding of life goals, goal-setting, and goal-achievement.
You have already done a lot of preliminary steps to formulate long-term life goals. “One day of my life in future”, epitaph, values, key areas form the foundation of your goal setting. Now we proceed to the most complex and interesting task – formulation of the very goals.
You can use simple in shape, but very difficult in the content tool – the map of your long term goals. Horizontally it contains two axes: the years, starting with the current, and your age. Vertically – your key areas. At the intersection of the years and key areas – sample targets.
It can be difficult to make an overview of your life goals.
First, it is not always clear what do you really want. But if it is difficult to write about it – just paint the desired picture on the map. It takes a few minutes but will give you a clearer picture of the future, a map, and a route.
Secondly, you are afraid to bind targets to terms. You have to be honest and look at your life realistically.
Third, you are afraid to take responsibility. It’s much easier to enjoy dreaming than honestly and clearly define what do you want and what are you going to do.
All these objections are serious. But if we want, we can set goals and achieve them.
The third step in creating a personal TM system
Formulate personal values and set long-term goals to bring dreams to reality.
Summary of recommendations:
- Manage your “personal corporation” “proactively”;
- Weed out the chaff of the externally imposed stamps and write about “One day of your life in future”;
- Define your values with “Memoir”;
- Formulate a personal mission in the form of an epitaph;
- Search for your vocation;
- Identify 5-7 key areas of your life;
- Make an overview of your life goals with the key areas and future years.