Question #4 – Am I Planning to Fail?


…if you fail to plan, you are!

I’ve already written about one of the biggest omissions many women make when setting their goals: Syncing those goals with your authentic values and intentions. The other big omission is failing to make a plan that will lead you from where you are now to where you want to be.

We may live in cultures that encourage planning and discipline for the mainstream, but black women often get conflicting messages where proactively planning their own lives and careers are concerned. While it’s positive to want to achieve some level of personal success, black women who define specific goals and focus on their plans to achieve those goals are often perceived as “hard” or “calculating”. We are also often expected to put other people’s needs before our own. And the crab-in-a-barrel mentality can mean that those closest to us (subconsciously?) try to trip us up on the road to achieving our goals and even take pleasure when we stumble.

But if we were planning to drive somewhere, not many of us would just jump into our car without any idea of exactly how to reach our destination. Whether you ask someone for directions, have a look at a map or depend on your car’s GPS system, you know you will need to:

  • drive past Methodist Church on Chestnut Street, or
  • take a right at the intersection after the supermarket, or
  • get off the Turnpike at Exit 23b.

to get to where you want to go. Those are example of some of the specific milestones you know to look out for on your way to where you are going. If you miss any of them, you know you’ve somehow managed to get off track.

Why do so many of us fail to discipline ourselves to do the same thing where our personal and professional goals are concerned? I admit, the task is (much) more daunting. We can’t just “google” the directions and our GPS isn’t any help, either. Although we can brainstorm with colleagues or a mentor or work through the planning process with a coach, in the end we are the only ones who can sit down and map out the personalized route  we need to take to successfully reach our goals.

The best place to start is at the end!

Take a long hard look at where you want to be at the end of the year. Then look back from that perspective at where you are now. What essential steps will you have to take:

  • today…
  • next week…
  • in six weeks…
  • in seven months…

to reach your goal? What important milestones will you pass along the way – and in what order?

Taking the time to map our your plan – in writing! – is extremely useful for a number of reasons:

  1. It makes your goal already seem more tangible! This is not something you’re simply dreaming about; it’s something you’re actively planning.
  2. It heightens your awareness for the tools you’ll need along the way! You may need to learn a different language or brush up on a peripheral skill to increase your chances of success.
  3. It helps you recognize steps you may not have been aware of before! You may discover you need something as vital as additional certification – or simply a recommendation for a good printer or graphic artist.

By taking stock of your answer to these questions, you can better prepare and pace yourself. You will also know at any given time what you need to be doing and/or preparing for to stay on course.It will also help you realize if you get off course, and lead you back to where you should be.

Do any of you have a unique planning tools or techniques that have helped you in the past? If so, please feel free to share in the comment section!

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