Thursday, November 12, 2009

Going Backwards to Move Forward?

I was just working with a client who told me she was leaving for a trip to India on December 26th, the day after Christmas. As she told me this, I was thinking, "wow, what a tough time to leave for a long trip to a far away land." She continued to tell me her reasons for going and how the trip came about. It all made sense...but I continued to wonder how she'd manage it all.

As we talked, she realized she had many thoughts and ideas whirling in her head about how she would manage it all. We often make our lists of all the things that need to happen in our heads. And, what happens? We begin to feel overwhelmed. The picture we create in our heads is of a list a mile long.

The first thing we did was to look ahead to the day she was leaving. How did she want to feel? She wanted to feel that everything was in order with work and her family so she could leave and not feel worried.

The key for my client was to work backwards from the outcome. Next step was to stop, remove the list from her head and write it down. It helps clearly map out the tasks that need to be addressed. Writing it down serves three purposes. First, it allows us to see what needs to happen. Next, it allows us to organize the list into categories, or blocks. And finally, we're able put into action, each day, small pieces to accomplish the final goal.

As she did this exercise, she laughed and said, I'm going to write on an index card the things I need to do each day. A GREAT idea. An index card does not allow for lots of writing. It's big enough for only 6-7 tasks. And six tasks is plenty to accomplish each day towards that final outcome of leaving for a trip and feeling no worries.

The other beauty of an index card? You can throw it away when you've crossed the tasks off the list.

Next time you're planning something big or working towards a goal. Take the time to work backwards, write down everything then chunk it down and use an index card to celebrate each day's accomplishments.

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