Monday 26 January 2015

Put a plan in place to reach your destination

I am determined to nail my colours to the mast this week and I am going to share one of my personal ambitions for 2014 with you. Before I do, however, let me share a 'key' ingredient to achieving your goals.

Last week, I suggested you commit three things to paper. The first was to write down what you want to achieve; secondly, to list all of the people who will help you get there; and, finally, to write down a powerful phrase detailing what you will do if you hit a wall. Here is mine: "If I fall, I will pick myself up, go again and just try harder. No excuses."

Now let us revisit the first element -- the strategy of writing it down. One of the things I have learned is that the more specific you can be, the more likely you are to succeed. Writing down: "I want to get fit" or "I want to lose weight" is admirable, but you can and must go much deeper.

A GPS system can pick out an exact point on the ground from thousands of miles away. This is because it knows exactly where it is headed. This represents a powerful lesson -- if we wish to go anywhere, we need to know where anywhere is.

Instead of broadly saying: "I want to lose weight" or "I want to get fit", how about writing: "I will be 7lbs lighter on/before March 26" or "I will secure a level of fitness that will see me complete the FIT Series 10k in Dublin on March 9"? These are very specific and very powerful GPS co-ordinates to plug into your 'personal satnav'. It works for business, too. Instead of writing: "I want to grow my business this year", how about writing: "I will grow sales by 7.25pc for the period from January through June"?

On the assumption that you agree with this recommendation, this is still not enough. A goal without a plan is still only a wish. You must write in detail how you will make it happen. Saying: "I will complete the Dublin City Marathon in under 4.5 hours in October 2014" is a specific goal. Now come up with the training plan which will turn it from a wish into a realistic goal.

About 15 years ago, I bought a guitar. Back then, I was keen to learn how to play it. Never once, however, did I write down what I wanted to achieve and 10 years later, I gave it away. This year is different. One of my ambitions for 2014 is to become an accomplished guitar player.

I have written down the following: "By September 1, I will be able to play three songs in full, all of which will have a minimum of three chords."

I know this will test me to the limit and will require significant dedication. I am very determined however. Here is my stage one training plan. Firstly -- this week -- I am going to buy a guitar (Good start I hear you say!) Secondly, I will practise for four hours per week, one hour of which will involve a guitar lesson. I will do this every week for the next eight weeks, after which I will review my progress.

Write your goal down very specifically and turn it into reality by detailing how you will get there. I will let you know how I get on with mine.

Gerry Duffy is a motivational speaker and endurance athlete.

Irish Independent

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