Fail to plan and you plan to fail, so the saying goes. A good plan starts with a clear goal, then works through all the steps you’ll need to take to get there, as well as the resources you’ll need to make it happen. A great plan is flexible enough to cope with unexpected events and adapt to your changing priorities.
This is the final part of a three-part series where I share some of the strategies I use to make my dreams become a reality. In the first article I explored how to juggle work, family and training. In the second article I looked at goal setting. In this, the final article, I’ll show you how to reverse-engineer a robust plan to make your dreams reality.
What, when and how
Once you’ve worked out what you really want to achieve, you have to figure out when and how you’re going to achieve it.
Picking the right time involves more than just randomly choosing a date. In my last article [link] I mentioned two important continuums – the financial lifeline and the athletic motivation line. Understanding where you are along these lines is critical; and you can work this out by downloading my [Live Your Dream Toolkit]. Looking at the intersection of these two timelines will help you to pinpoint the best time to go after your goal; taking into account financial, business and personal commitments, and your level of athletic motivation and ability over time.
With the when in place, it’s time to focus on the how. In my work with athletes and adventurers, one thing is clear – achieving your goals takes commitment, endurance and of course, money. One inspirational couple I work with has decided to run the six marathon majors, plus one more to bring the total to seven marathons on seven continents. We worked out that this could be achieved over 10 years at a cost of $180,000. We then broke the cost down to $20,000 a year, or $385 each week.
Once you understand the financial resources required, you can decide whether you can afford to go after your goal based on your current income. If you can’t, your options are to stretch your goals over a longer time to spread the cost, or find a way to increase your income. Another option is to examine your expenditure in light of your values, and identify less important areas where you can cut back.
Risk and flexibility
As I said at the top, a great plan is flexible enough to deal with setbacks. It’s important to understand your relationship to risk – what are you prepared to risk and what is not an option? Mike Tyson said, “Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the face” – well, we want to make sure we’ve planned for that, too.
With this in mind, I use financial modelling software that crunches 500 possible scenarios assessing risk and possible outcomes. What we’re looking for here is the “punch in the face” scenario – for example, if there’s another GFC will I still be able to retire? Can I accept the outcome if the worst happens?
There was a good example of this principle in play at the Commonwealth Games. Callum Hawkins maintained a spectacular lead until he collapsed at the 40 kilometre mark, only to be overtaken by Michael Sheeley, the Australian who ultimately won the race. Hawkins had one goal – to win the race. Sheeley certainly had the same goal, but he also understood what he could accomplish with the resources at his disposal. Keeping his pace instead of going head to head with the Scottish runner, Shelley accepted he may not win but knew he would complete the race – a strategy which ultimately paid off in spades.
Look how far you’ve come
While planning looks to the future, its important to take stock of how far you’ve come. In running, many elite athletes spend their career hitting personal bests, competition bests and even world records – but it’s not until they’ve retired that they look back and enjoy their achievements, because they’re always looking at the next pinnacle to hit.
When you’ve worked out your goals and you’re on the path to achieve them, remember to take time to enjoy your successes and smell the roses. To quote Ferris Bueller – “Life is pretty short. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Read part one [FITTING IT ALL IN - How to juggle work, family and training]
Read part two [DREAMING BIG - How to set goals that motivate and inspire you]