Plan Backward Not Forward...
Have you ever planned a road trip before? There's a pretty good likelihood that you have. For those who haven't—and to facilitate the purpose of this post—it's a relatively straightforward thing to do. You know your starting point and your destination; you map out which routes you'll take, and what stops you want to make along the way; if you're mildly OCPD like me, you also make it the most 'efficient' path possible. This process works well enough for trip-planning that you've likely used it in your goal-setting, too. If this strategy works, that's fantastic. If you're open to learning another way—one I find incredibly successful with my clients—then read on!
While not revolutionary, simply changing the direction you plan your goals in can have powerful impact. Instead of the 'default' way of planning I described above, I like to work backwards with my clients when creating action steps and plans. Beyond the mental-jog that thinking backwards pushes the mind into, I find that planning from the goal backwards elicits more creativity and positivity than starting at where you are now.
If you're like most people and take a moment and think about completing a goal, compared to where you're currently at, there's a good chance you perceive the distance between as large and, worst-case-scenario, close to impossible. This fear and negativity stems from focusing on your current state of goal in-completion, and the perceived mountain you've got to climb in order to finally reach your goal. I make it sound rather ominous, but that's how it really appears to a lot of people; no wonder they have difficulty achieving success!
Instead, I like to take a reverse approach with my clients. Once we identify your goal, I encourage you to place yourself within the experience of actually achieving it. You're no longer where you are right now—square one—and are actually at the point of completion. After you've embraced the success of having achieved your goal, I ask you to take steps backward, and outline how you got there. Were there other people who helped you along the way? What skills did you use to help get you to your point of success? Did you learn anything new along the way that aided you in your journey?
By positioning you in the mindset of having already completed your goal, it diminishes or removes the fear of failure, and actually promotes logical and positive problem-solving, because you've got to put a plan in place that links your perceived success back to your actual starting point. Every client's plan comes together differently, yet the results remain the same: approaching goal-setting from this perspective greatly reduces the anxiety and overwhelm they experienced previously, and makes for a much more enjoyable and creative process. Try it for yourself, especially if you're having a tough time getting after your goals!