I have a great friend that says, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll probably end up someplace else.” No truer words have been said. He usually uses this phrase when he is talking about goal setting, but the first time I heard this I started applying this principle to all aspects of my life. You have to start your road to success with a road map for success.
My entire life revolves around prior and proper planning. You have to plan your yearly vacation, you have to plan your funeral, you have to plan your wedding, but surprisingly few people plan their lives. I have talked (in past blog entries) about getting together a plan for goals, but I think it is easier if you start from the beginning. “The beginning” is a ubiquitous term. In this instance, by the beginning, I mean your WHY.
Your why is why you do what you do. In my case it is my daughter. My desire for her to have more opportunities in life than I’ve had is why I get up everyday. I want her to be able to attend schools that actually teach, and allow for her to excel in life. Not to mention her voracious appetite for toys, and everything Hannah Montana.
Everybody’s why is different. Some have extended family with health issues they are responsible for, and some folks go to work everyday because it is a means to a vacation. Whatever your why is, the first step of planning is to get out a sheet of paper and write. You are much more likely to stick to a plan if it is in writing. Get out that sheet of paper and write out your WHY.
Then ask yourself a few questions:
- What are your ethics?
- What would you make a stand for?
- What are your core beliefs?
- What virtues do you aspire to, and hold in high regard when you see them demonstrated by others?
- What will you not stand for?
- What would you sacrifice for, suffer for, and even die for?
We all inherently know these things about ourselves, but knowing is different than demonstrating. Once you write these questions out, there is a cosmic accountability that ensures you stick to these mores.
Write Out Your Defining Values
When I was first introduced to this core-belief clarification exercise, I was skeptical. I begrudgingly wrote out a list of 29 qualities that I considered being my loftiest attributes. I thought they were all building-blocks of my character, but what I found is I didn’t always live up to every one of my core-beliefs. This is the accountability I am talking about. I definitely felt that they were all important and I wanted to demonstrate every single one of them in my character.
Focus on a Few Core Beliefs
Please note, once you have written down all of your core-concepts, you may feel that embodying them 100% seems unrealistic. Don’t worry about it. We are all fallible. Scale down your ambitions and narrow the values to a small number that is manageable and workable. Once you settle on about five core beliefs, you can now get to work on yourself and start making some progress in character development.
Identify Your 5 Most Important Core-concepts
Write down the five values that you feel are the most important for you to live by. Once you have those five values, prioritize them. Which is the most important value in your hierarchy of values? Which would be second? Which would be third, and so on?
This is How We Learn to Make Better Decisions
Every choice or decision we make is rooted in our values. Because we can only do one thing at a time, everything we do is demonstrative of what we consider to be the most important to us at that moment. Sometimes we make a wrong decision that goes against our value system, and we immediately know it don’t we?
Organizing your values and prioritizing them is the starting point of personal strategic planning. It is only when you are clear about what and why you value, and in what order, that you are capable of planning and organizing the other activities of your life.
First, clarify your core beliefs and your unifying principles. Write them down and compare your life today with the values that are really important to you. Evaluate how you are doing.
Second, organize your values in order of their importance to you. Which of your values is most important? Which is second? And so on. Do your current choices reflect this order of values?
Third, incorporate this mantra into your self-talk, “That’s like me!” and “That’s not like me!”. Every time you live within your core belief system and hold true to your values say to yourself, “That’s like me!”. Every time you fall out of your core beliefs say to yourself, “That’s not like me!”. Let me give you an example: If one of your core values is your honesty and someone gives you too much change after a purchase (and of course), and you correct them and give them back the overage…that deserves an attaboy…that deserves a “That’s like me!” Get it?
Thanks again for letting me ramble. I hope there is some good stuff in here for you.
Until we speak, happy growing.
President of Sales and Marketing