Now that you have your what if in mind, you are energized to show up, and you have learned from others around you, what comes next? Well, you need a plan! Just as I draft an outline for my books before I started to write paragraphs, you need to have an idea about the steps that are necessary to take to reach your goal.
As children, we are asked many times about what we want to be when we grow up. Rarely does that conversation continue to discuss how we can live that life. In Chapter 4 of my book, Exponential Happiness, I reveal best practices for discovering the how behind every type of goal. The book walks you through a planning and decision-making process that will save you a lot of grief by creating a plan which will propel you toward living your what if.
I wouldn’t expect you to run off and buy the book without any evidence regarding the impact of its contents, so here, I’ll give you a little teaser.
There are a lot of lofty careers out there. You don’t become a doctor or a pilot or an astronaut overnight. These are professions that you don’t just fall in to after a period of post-university discovery during a gap year. These are professions that accept only those who perform at the top of their peers and who have their passions in the right place. The sacrifices you must make to obtain these roles are too big for you to succeed in them without having the drive and focus to do so.
When a goal is so lofty and comes with such huge risks in the consequences of failure, how do you go about planning for success? Well, one good method is backcasting which you can read more about in this post about discovering your “what if”. Another good method is to go direct to the source and read the requirements.
Let’s use the astronaut career as our example here.
A quick Google search for “NASA Astronaut Program” leads you directly to the program’s homepage. There is a lot of nice information there but what drew my attention immediately was a link to the program’s F.A.Q. (Frequently Asked Questions) page. There, in the opening paragraph is a wondrous thing; one of the best pieces of advice that’s ever been given:
Among the academic fields considered qualifying for Astronaut Candidate positions, we would not recommend one over another or specify which might be more appropriate in the future. You should choose a field of study that is of interest to you; this will ensure that, whatever course your career takes, you will be prepared to do something that is personally satisfying.
Wow, how gratifying is that? Those smart people over at NASA ask that you put your happiness first!
Now, if you do want to become an astronaut, go ahead and read the rest of that page to get some insights. Insights are useful, but keep NASA’s advice in mind no matter the career ambitions; put your happiness first, not the end-goal.
The most important element of any plan is the flexibility to change. It’s such a tragedy to me when I see unhappy people stuck in their ways. They know they are unsatisfied but are too scared or too lacking in confidence that they can make a change. We are all guilty of this to one degree or another. We invest heavily in the pursuit of some outcome, some of which are simply not meant to be. Making an effort is necessary, but knowing when to change your plan or your destination is also important.
We get new information every day. We learn. We grow. Doors open. Doors close. As life happens all around us, it is critical to adjust our plans to fit within the new reality we find ourselves.
Check-in with your plans regularly to assess whether or not the destination is still desired. Maybe there is a better path to the destination, or maybe there is a better goal altogether.
Check out my book Exponential Happiness for loads more details on this and other topics to help you in your pursuit of achieving your goals!
If you’re not yet ready to dive into a book, then please leave me a comment below with any questions you have and I will be happy to advise you the best I can directly!
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