The previous parts of this series included mastering the past, seeing our own big picture, and knowing when it may be time to pivot have helped us know where we stand. We can continue to use our “margin” time to map out the places we would like to be in terms of our career, relationship with family and friends, finances, personal growth and development, and our connection to others. In order to effectively design the path to connect us to our best selves and better future, we need to be sure of our starting point and the obstacles that could be in our way.
Imagine Your Best Self
Imagine how much more content and less stressful life would be if you could “do you” really well and effectively… and do so ALL the time?
The first steps in the process is to imagine being your best self, and for most this includes:
- doing excellent work
- doing what we do best every day
- growing and advancing
- having a life and impact beyond our career alone
The good news is that these are ALL possible and in our control. Once we imagine them, we can begin to take the necessary steps to realize them.
Get in the Flow
Getting in the flow of our best selves will typically require that we answer “yes” to the following:
- Do I strive for excellence at work?
- Do I routinely deploy my best skills, talents, assets, gifts, and experiences?
- Do I seek opportunities to continuously grow personally and professionally?
- Am I known and revered outside the office?
These are high bars for sure… but don’t we all at least have that small voice inside reminding us that we aspire to achieve them?… and don’t we also want to inspire others to reach for these too? At any given time, we fall short… but at any given time we can also close the gap.
Analyze the Gap
We can perform a gap analysis and design a strategy to close the gap once we know: where we stand, where we want to be, and what’s holding us back. The previous parts of this series related to mastering our past, seeing our own big picture, and knowing when it may be time to pivot have helped us know where we stand. We can continue to use our “margin” time to map out the places we would like to be in terms of our career, relationship with family and friends, finances, personal growth and development, and our connection to others. In order to design the path to connect us to our best selves and better future, we need to be sure of our starting point and the obstacles that could be in our way.
If you answered “no”, “I don’t know”, or “I’m not sure” then ask “why” at least four times to get to the root issue.
For example, why don’t I strive for excellence at work the way I once did?
- Answer: I don’t really feel it anymore. Why?
- Answer: I have lost my motivation. Why?
- Answer: I’m doing the same old thing. Why?
- Answer: The work is the work and nobody is talking to me about anything different.
Real issues to be considered: Loss of efficacy, burnout, disengagement, no paths available for growth, employee connected with an ineffective boss.
I can’t say that I routinely deploy my best skills, talents, assets, gifts, and experiences. Why?
- Answer: They’re not called for in my job. Why?
- Answer: Ok, it is expected that I keep growing and leverage my work skills, talents, and experiences on the job, but not that other stuff. Why?
- Answer: That’s just not part of the work; work and life are mostly compartmentalized. Why?
- Answer: I guess that’s just the way it’s always been.
Real Issues to be considered: a lack of awareness of what each of these elements are and/or a lack of knowledge on how best to develop and leverage them to improve engagement, growth, and performance in today’s workplace. Once we know the real reasons for each of the “non-yes” questions above, we can begin to retarget toward the places we want to be.
Identify three steps to move closer to where you want to be in terms of work, family and friends, finances, personal growth and development, and connections with others. As a way to get started, many high-achieving professionals and business owners identify steps from answering some version of the following questions. Take one step toward your targets each week… and then keep going.
Work: In terms of work, it could be establishing a long-term career plan and then sitting down with your supervisor to begin a new dialogue about creating a better future.
- What stops me from excelling at work?
- Does work allow me to see, develop, and leverage my skills, talents, assets, gifts, and experiences? If not, what other pursuits would allow me to develop and deploy them?
Family and Friends: In terms of family and friends, it could be scheduling a date-night with your significant other or picking up the phone to call a friend to make plans.
- Do I have all the relationships I want at home and with friends?
- Are the relationships I have in development, growing, maturing, or peaking phases… or are they in a decline and in need of a refresh?
Finances: In terms of finances, it could be establishing that long-term plan for more financial freedom.
- Do I have a savings and retirement “number”? Am I on track?
- Does my income exceed my expenses… and how can I increase the former and decrease (and avoid adding to) the latter to create more financial freedom?
Personal Growth and Development: In terms of personal growth, it can be reading a book, subscribing to a podcast, and committing to an exercise plan.
- Am I growing personally, spiritually, and in terms of my physical health?
- Am I taking on new experiences that push me out of my “comfort zone” and expand my horizons?
Connection with Others: In terms of connecting with others, it could be reaching out to a local non-profit to take a tour and learn more.
- Do I know my passions outside of my work and family?
- Am I learning more about issues that upset me and the causes that inspire me?… and am I taking action to make a difference?
Once we retarget, we can develop our “to-do” list and begin to bridge the gaps. This process of moving forward step by step helps us to revitalize.
- Begin to Revitalize
In my case, in order to stay on track and begin to realize the full life I desired, I needed to see all my priorities at once. To do so, I redesigned my weekly “to-do” list. A previously “all-work” list transformed to a 6-box list with 2 columns and 3 rows with a “to-do” box related to: work, family, personal growth, professional growth, non-profit and community connection activities, and other items related to miscellaneous appointments, errands, or home projects.
Well informed and developed “to-do” lists can be designed to take us from where we are to where we want to be. Taking action is what moves us to become our best self. We can celebrate each step toward our targets as one step closer to being able to say… “nailed it!”
This article originally appeared on ActionsProve