One event that never fails to happen when visiting my parents, naturally happened again over the holidays. It’s an event that causes chuckles and shushes from the backseat of the car as Mom and Dad yet again try and conquer the map directions in the front seat, with Dad driving and Mom navigating. And, I use both verbs loosely because no matter who is behind the wheel, they both “drive” and they both “navigate,” equally and at the same time. And, to add hilarity to the situation, last year they bought a GPS navigation system, named her Gertrude and figured “she” would bring peace and harmony to their journeys because Gertrude would carry the navigation burden. But, no! Somehow they found a way to second guess Gertrude as they settled back into their tug of war bliss. I say bliss because my parents have been happily married for 50 years and these self-imposed front seat Bickersons are a part of their dance. It’s hard to imagine going anywhere with them, without being an amused witness to it. Oh, and in the end, lovely, consistent Gertrude hardly ever steers them wrong!
It got me thinking about clear goal-setting in terms of a GPS system. When you set a goal it’s like plugging the destination coordinates into your GPS, and then the map will guide you along on the most direct and uncomplicated route. Your “map” is made up of the plans you make and the steps you take to hit your goal. And, what’s so compelling about the entire GPS idea is that when you get off course or stop for gas, or take a detour, your reliable GPS system recalibrates and sets you back on track toward your destination.
It’s a wonder how smart those little buggers are, from telling you not only your speed but the current speed limit, to giving you the temperature, to giving you an estimated time of arrival.
Keep this in mind as you assert smart goal-setting this year:
- Determine a main goal for each area of your life: career, health, relationship, and spiritual.
- Give yourself a deadline, putting the date on your calendar. The more specific you are about writing down your goals the more realistic and REAL they become. And, give yourself a true and reachable deadline, yet allow yourself to stretch beyond your current boundaries.
- Now break each end objective down into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. When you figure backwards from the end destination it makes for smart planning so you don’t end up short, running out of time or trying to cram too much into your plan.
- Allow yourself room to sway off course for fresh opportunities that cross your path. Keeping your eyes open for alternative ways to get to your goal may actually get you there quicker or in a bigger and better way than you first imagined. And, here’s where your smart GPS system comes in. As long as you keep it set on your goal your plan will recalibrate you right back in onto your path.
- Enjoy the journey. How dull would a trip to the Grand Canyon or Yosemite be without taking time to enjoy the view along the way? Remember to breathe and relish in small victories as well as the bumps in the road that you’re bound to encounter. That’s the good stuff!
The final step once you set your career and life GPS is to let go and trust. I’m sure if Gertrude could talk that is what she would tell my parents. “Trust me!” Once your smart plan is set in motion, trust your plan and let go of trying to place too much control over it. Let your smart GPS guide you.
Margaret Thatcher said, “Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.” Worked for Britain's PM, it'll work for you too.