If there is one term we need to first set in to our mind it is, ideas are not goals. If this were a lecture, I would insert a deliberate pause to let that statement sink in. Ideas are those beautiful, energy propelling visions we get, induced by an event or situation, that spark the flame of creativity without which we would never have cause to create goals and therefore never achieve them.
The creation of a goal is simply the act of bringing an idea in to clear focus. We need to be able to see it as it exists in the world around us. More importantly, we need to see ourselves in it whether it is an action, a place, or using a product we want to develop. Here are a few “how-to’s” to aid in the creative process.
1) The Starting Point: This one is simple, just take out a piece of paper and on the left side write down the situation you want to change. This step is merely to identify the event that sparked the desire for change. This statement is naturally emotionally charged so don’t worry if there is anger, or other forms of what one would perceive as negative emotion, just go with it. We’ll reserve the discussion of usefulness of emotions for another time.
2) Vision Statement (The What): In this step just write down the idea. Sometimes this is the hardest part of the process as it is the conceptual stage which simply means we are trying to bring something that is energy or thought in to tangible form. This exercise answers the question “what do I want?“ The process to develop this statement is as follows:
(a) Just write! Just grab a pen and paper and write down whatever spills out of your head. It doesn’t have to make sense, just start writing. Think of this as writing the antidote to the situation or starting point.
(b) Once you’ve exhausted your initial writing, start moving the words around or insert and remove elements that do not seem to bring resolution to the problem or situation.
(c) Set your words in to one clear and concise statement that resonates well with your vision. Write this statement on the right side of the same page where you wrote your starting point statement.
3) Develop the Why: It seems that this step would be automatically understood and easily formulated. We can not afford to assume that just because we’ve stated what we want, we fully understand why we want it.
(a) As in the previous exercise, just start writing. Just start listing anything that comes to mind as to why you want to get your “what.”
(b) Once you have a full list (more can be added to later) write them down, in no particular order or format, on the back of the vision statement paper.
(c) This list will act as a motivational tool while creating and achieving your goals.
4) Extract the Goals: The plural is intentional here as it is a rare occasion when one has a vision that is comprised of a singular goal. This also explains my statement that an idea is not a goal. The way to extract the goals is to visualize, and of course write, what lies between our starting point and our vision.
(a) Flip the page back over exposing the side with the starting point and vision statement. Start filling in the steps you see you will need to take to get from one to the other. Again, there is no need to set priority to these steps just yet. First, just get them out of your head and on to the paper. The number of goals you will extract is relative to the situation.
(b) Take each goal and place them individually on the right side (the end point) of their own pages. When you are ready you can take each one and write a starting point statement (where you stand in relation to the goal) on the left and develop the steps in between to start achieving the individual goals which ultimately lead to the attainment of the broader vision or desire.
As we continue through the process the goals become more singular in action and become the to-do lists for their achievement.
It may pay to employ the objective view of a knowledgeable friend or success coach to aid in the development and achieving of specific goals. Although emotion is the opening through which our goal develops it can equally become its barrier.