Bookmark This Page

HomeHome SitemapSitemap Contact usContacts

Draw A Jigsaw Puzzle

Imagine if every morning when you awoke, there was a card table with a mound of jigsaw puzzle pieces on it. And your job every day was to put those pieces together to create a finished puzzle. And tomorrow morning when you awoke, there would be another new mound of pieces to add to todayís.

Only, you have no idea what the final picture is supposed to look like, because they didnít give you the box with the finished picture on it! How would you proceed? How would you know how far you had to go to get done? How would you know when you were done?

This is life without a plan, life without a Preferred Future. And the law of this life is this: ďIf you donít know why youíre doing what youíre doing, youíll never have enough time to get it done.Ē

Our personal life and our work are both a series of choices Ė choices of activities that we will perform next. The activities that we choose to perform determine our results. And the choice we have is between a future or a Preferred Future. If the culmination of the activities we perform is automatically a future, why not have those activities culminate in a future we choose to have? In a future we prefer?

If life is like assembling the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, why not have the final picture be something weíd like it to be?

We can. And we do that by starting with a goal thatís almost too big to achieve.

When a city needs to lure or retain a sports franchise, they need a big-dream goal of a new stadium, not an incremental goal like fixing up the old stadium by adding logos!

Thereís no way that a new stadium can be completed in a day, a month, or even a year. It takes about three years to finish a project of this size. When itís first talked about, itís hard to believe it will ever happen. But every day another piece of the puzzle is put in place and eventually the picture on the box becomes a real-live stadium. And the impossible dream comes true.

Remember, now, that the stadium, even though an almost impossible goal, is not really the final goal. The ultimate goal is to get a new team in town (or keep your present one). Even that goal likely has a larger focus such as keeping your city financially healthy by creating a positive living environment.

Each of us has goals like these, too. But without action steps or plans, these goals are merely dreams.

Have you ever wanted to earn more money? Have you ever told yourself, ďIf I just earn 15% more, Iíd be okay?Ē While this seems a reasonable and doable goal, itís actually difficult because your options are limited. Usually something like ďI just need to get a raise!Ē

If, however, you set a goal to double your income in three years, you have to start to think differently to achieve that. And youíll also have to stop doing something youíre currently doing to reach this Preferred Future. As you look at the obstacles along the path to this Preferred Future, youíll discover that these obstacles are actually the action steps youíll need to take to reach your goal.

There are seven areas of your life Ė each of which needs to have its own Preferred Future. The first six are: Spiritual (Legacy, purpose), Physical, Family, Social (friends, community), Intellectual, and Financial. Once you have achieved balance in these six, you can then focus on the seventh area of your life, your Career. And when you have a Preferred Future there, and begin to achieve it, you will discover that the success in your career is helping you achieve your Preferred Future in the first six areas of your life.

The secret of achieving your Preferred Future is this: ďFocus on your Preferred Future, but respond to the present.Ē When you do that, you automatically identify your highest priorities, for example, and you will find yourself doing not the easiest thing on your to-do list, nor even the next thing, but rather the thing that will help you achieve your goals. Here are the five steps youíll need to follow to reach your Preferred Future.

1. Clearly define your Preferred Future. I want to make money is not clearly enough defined. I want to double my income so I can pay off my debts and retire by age 50 is a clearly defined result. Getting a new job is not clearly enough defined Ė being in charge of the hydraulic engineering department is. If you donít know what the final picture looks like, there is no way you can successfully assemble the pieces of the puzzle.

2. Know why this Preferred Future is important to you. Knowing why the result matters to you, will allow you to make decisions and judgments along the way that will help you get there sooner. Is that new job important to you because of the money, or because of the status in the eyes of your peers? If you donít know why, you might make the wrong choice for the wrong reason, and the goal is always to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason. You canít do that if you donít know why your Preferred Future is important to you.

3. Identify a small step that will open the door. Just like you canít build a stadium overnight, you canít reach your Preferred Future easily. But every journey has its first step, and each step leads to the next. And while all the steps are not the same and some are much harder than others, you have to finds a place to start and then begin. You journey nowhere without moving your feet.

4. Monitor your progress. As you progress, look at what youíre doing. Keep a record. Make a daily plan. Make a monthly plan. Make a quarterly plan. Make a yearly plan. Make a three-year plan. And take notes. Determine what worked and what didnít. Decide what you would do differently and what you would do better. If you donít keep track of where you are, you wonít have any idea of where youíre going.

5. Modify your actions based on what youíve learned. When you have the information on what worked and what didnít, change you action steps accordingly. When you know what youíd do better next time, do it. And consistently revise your plans. If a sailor doesnít change course, he can never reach his goal. The better the sailor, the more frequently he monitors his actions and the more frequently he changes course.

When you focus on your Preferred Future, you are applying the pre-eminent law of body-building, and of life. That is, what you focus on gets stronger.

When you create a clearly defined Preferred Future and focus on it constantly, you will discover that every day you are choosing the most important puzzle pieces in your life that will best help you to build your Preferred Future.

Brent Dees, president of Focus Four, is a small business coach who teaches entrepreneurs how to set and achieve business and personal goals so they can work less and make more.