A Goal Without a Plan

Every goal can seem impossible without a plan to achieve them.

Every goal can seem impossible without a plan to achieve them.

“A goal without a plan, is just a wish.”Antione de Saint-Exupery

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time, and is very appropriate to providing good leadership to your employees. All over the Internet you will see articles, blogs, and other random comments debating the difference between a MANAGER and a LEADER.

What is the difference between management and leadership? -WSJ

After pouring through at least 100 opinions of other leadership experts, the underlying component they all have in common is “vision.” They all agree that an effective leader provides a long-term vision to his or her employees, whereas a manager simply provides oversight of day-to-day operations.

So if this is what separates a leader from a manager, the next logical question is, “What makes an effective leader?” Once again you’ll see an array of mass-fortunes that have been made writing books, leading seminars, and giving interviews, by individuals addressing the same topic.

In my own opinion, even though it is greatly underpaid compared to many other leadership bloggers, is rather simple: Leadership requires passion in what you do, a goal for the future, and a plan on how to achieve it. It doesn’t require catchphrases, motivational speeches, (or my favorite) group activities like “trust-falls.”

This equals leadership? Only if you plan on falling down a lot.

This equals leadership? Only if you plan on falling down a lot.

In order to be an effective leader, you must be willing to make challenging (but reachable) goals, and initiate a plan on how to achieve them. This is a big leadership fail in my current job. My boss is only a year or so from retirement and will sit down at most of our staff meetings and begin throwing out mindless and lofty goals with no strategies on how to achieve them. Knowing these goals were randomly pulled from the sky, no one takes her seriously, and we all wait for them to fade away, including her.

This is pointless. The only benefit I receive from these examples of “lazy leadership” is making great observations on what not to do. An effective leader creates a plan to achieve the goals of their long-term vision, and actively communicates the steps necessary to attain it.

Here are several tips I have found beneficial in creating a plan to achieve goals:

Create a Deadline: goals are only effective if you select a specific time frame in which to achieve them. By creating a deadline, you establish a sense of urgency not only for yourself, but your employees as well.

Break Large Goals into Smaller Components: If the goal you are creating for your employees is large, or long-term, make sure you break your goal into smaller, achievable steps along the way.

Communicate Progress Regularly: It is very important to have an open communication with employees about the progress you have made to your goal, and how much further you have to go. This will help keep everyone involved in achieving this goal focused, and informed on what still needs to be done.

Celebrate Small Successes: Even the smallest successes and achievements when perusing goals should be celebrated to keep employees motivated.

Allow Room for Adjustment: Even the best-planned goals can have unforeseen problems. It is definitely okay to adjust your goal as you go along to accommodate situations that are out of your control.

These are my tips for making successful plans to achieve goals, but I am always open to more input from my followers. Please feel free to comment below with any suggestions you may have on achieving goals.

Leadership is not nearly as complicated as others try to make it.

Leadership is not nearly as complicated as others try to make it.

Photo Credit 1
Photo Credit 2
Photo Credit 3

Advertisements

Four Decisions: Self Improvement Plan

What is stopping you from being happy?

What is stopping you from being happy?

Introduction:

This post is another contribution to my four part series I have titled The Four Decisions Theory. In a previous blog post, I have described how there are four major decisions in life that create the foundation of who and where we are. These choices play a critical role in not only where we are presently, but also the direction of our future paths.

By using hindsight to reflect upon these choices, it is easier to see what went right and what went wrong. It is very important for everyone to take time and reflect on their own major life events in order to recognize similar opportunities as they arise, or to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Self Improvement Plan of 2009

As I was lying under a beach umbrella in Maui in the summer of 2009, many thoughts began crossing my mind. As a school teacher with only three more weeks of summer vacation left, I was greatly dreading going back to work.

I wasn’t a happy person at this time in my life, and even with the trade winds blowing the sand off my toes, my negative thoughts riddled my emotions. At this moment I did a mental check of my feelings, I was able to look at my own emotions from an outside perspective. These observations were not good. How could I be so negative and depressed in Maui, my favorite place to be in the entire world? Were things really this bad?

The main emotion that angered me was the feeling of being stuck in life. I was in a failing marriage, extremely overweight, and I was not satisfied with my career. Year after year I was watching my friends and family make progress in their lives, but I felt as if I wasn’t going anywhere, and this lack of accomplishment was making me depressed.

The next day I returned to Reno from Maui, and stepped on the scale to find that I had reached the heaviest weight I had ever been, 335 pounds. I had half-heartedly attempted diets in the past, but never put the effort needed to see any success. Once again I was drowning in self-defeating and negative thoughts, and saw no end in sight to my misery.

It was at this moment I looked to past successes in my life and felt a renewed confidence. I was able to go to college and be successful on my own, and I realized that whenever I have put my mind to goals in the past, I was successful. I realized that my problem was that I had no plan to be successful, that I wasn’t really trying my hardest, and the reason I was miserable was because of my own apathy.

It was at this moment that I came up with my Self-Improvement Plan. I began to list the areas of my life in which I was miserable, and came up with a plan to fix it. My first goal was to find a way to get healthy, and be in better shape. I realized that I was an emotional eater, and that I needed to work on my fitness in order to improve my self-esteem.

Weight Loss:

Realizing that I needed to lose close to 100 pounds or more, I needed to take this goal seriously, and consider all options. Working out by myself wasn’t going to work. I needed someone to hold me accountable, and help me through this endeavor. I attended a weight-loss surgery seminar, and decided that I would be a good candidate for a lap-band. In order to get the lap-band, I had to meet with a nutritionist for 12 weeks to show my dedication to weight loss. She helped me by also counseling me through my emotional eating patterns, and giving me positive support along the way. Prior to my weight loss surgery, I had lost 40 pounds on my own, and found the energy and confidence that was missing in my life.

Me in 2009 :(

Me in 2009 😦

Career:

I love being a teacher, but it has begun to wear me down over the past 7 years. I was frustrated at the stagnation in my career, having maxed out my pay cycle with 25 years to go, and getting little input into the curriculum and pedagogy strategies that were being forced down our throats. Every night I was working 10 or more hours with little appreciation for my principal or parents, and I had had enough. I came up with the idea of getting my MBA after my weight loss surgery.

Even though I knew I wanted to change my career, I felt that putting all of my effort to each goal individually would help me to be more successful. Once I got control of my health and fitness, I began studying for the GMAT, and was accepted into the MBA program at the University of Nevada. By surrounding myself with talented and ambitious individuals in my MBA program, I feel like I am a talented individual gain, not “just at teacher,” and I am excited about my future professional career.

Teachers can only do so much. #badparenting

Teachers can only do so much. #badparenting

Marital Awakening:

During this improvement plan, I was also beginning to realize how troubled my first marriage truly was. Instead of ignoring this issue, I was able to see the future of my ex-wife and my own, were drifting in different directions. We began going to marital counseling, and after many months, we realized that we were at an impasse, and no compromises could be reached. My ex-wife is a wonderful person, and out of respect to her, I do not wish to divulge any more details. After realizing my ex-wife and I both wanted different things in life, we decided that a divorce was best for both parties.

It was a very difficult time for me, but I was very fortunate to find the love of my life soon after I divorced. As the old saying goes, “you’ll never find right person in your life until you let go of the wrong person.”

What I Learned

It was the series of choices in my Improvement Plan that allowed me to realize that we are never truly “stuck” in life. Most of the obstacles we feel surround us are entirely mental. Think of the biggest goal you had in your life, or even in your youth? What stopped you from going after it? Was someone physically standing in your way, or did your own fear make your dreams seem unattainable?
Life is too short to not be happy, and if you want things bad enough, you CAN and WILL achieve it. The hardest part is getting started.

As the old saying goes. . . .

As the old saying goes. . . .

Photo Credit 1
Photo Credit 2: Self Photo 2009
Photo Credit 3
Photo Credit 4