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My Yearly Game Plan: How To Set Goals When Pursuing Success

by Melinda Sims

Photo: Melinda Sims

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Sometimes you have to look back, to be reminded of where you are going. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a college graduate in 2011 who could not find a job. I took odd jobs as a full-time nanny for two years to simply pay bills. In 2014, I was creating international education programs for the U.S. Department of State. What propelled me from watching kids to creating and managing multi-million dollar programs for the top foreign affairs agency in the world? The introspective work I achieved before creating clear-cut goals.   

Get To Know Yourself Again

We all have the itch to pursue a certain thing. If we’re not careful, life can quickly get in the way causing us to forget what that might be. I learned that my goals had to align with my calling, my legacy and my reason for pursuing them in order for me to be consistent.  If you’re stumped, try reflecting on consistent patterns to uncover your purpose then use the 5 Why Method to peel back each layer of complexity to reveal the root of your motivation. The statement you end up with will give you supernatural power to overcome challenging times and shrug off anything less than your best. 

Have an Unconventional Imagination

A lot of articles praise setting goals a specific way, but this comes after you believe in your ability to achieve anything you put your mind to. As a first-generation professional, I did not have models to follow so to think about working in Washington, D.C. could have easily been a dream I shrugged off as being “out of my reach.” Thankfully, I always had an active imagination that took me beyond the crippling environment in which I was raised.  My personal and professional experiences gave me the opportunity to speak with a lot of people about what they want for themselves. They usually respond with something safe or cliché. My training has led me to know when there is more to be uncovered so I gently probe until I see a light flicker and the possibilities suddenly became endless. 

Dreaming with abandon is also a common trait of high-achievers. Elon Musk is a great example of someone who imagined beyond the confines of conventional thinking. He is a multi-billionaire who successfully launched reusable rockets into space and brought them back to Earth. Why did he start another company despite having a successful one in Tesla? Easy. He wanted “to colonize Mars.” A simple, direct, and out of this world (pun intended) mission that fueled his mind’s energy, power and resilience to see his project to completion. 

Does your dream scare you a little? Great! Do it anyway. If you do not know where to start, get inspired with magazines, songs, or even Pinterest to get your creativity flowing then create a vision board with this resource.     

Create Your Blueprint

Every great thing is achieved with a plan. Your purpose-based dream can be achieved over time with a plan that breaks it down one question at a time. Gary Kelly and Jay Papasan’s The ONE Thing, calls this technique Goal Setting To the Now. You work backwards in 5-year increments and simply ask, “Based on my someday goal, what is the one thing I can do in the next five years?" This continues with, “Now, based on my five-year goal, what is the one thing I can do this year to be on track to achieve my five-year goal.” This method continues until you have worked your way to the present moment when you ask, “Based on my daily goal, what is the one thing I can do right now to be on track to achieve my weekly, monthly, yearly, five-year, and long-term goal?”  

This one question approach not only helped me to chip away at my big dream of moving to Washington, D.C., it also kept me on track to create my company’s debut product, The Pinnacle Planner. I became better with specifying my goals and identifying the priority tasks to achieve them. I also became a better decision-maker because this exercise empowered me to say “no” to opportunities that did not align with my mission, consequently making it easier for me to stick to the clear and specific goals that I had established.

"I truly believe that if you put your goals in writing, speak them out loud, and work for them, they will happen." - Ciara

I had way bigger dreams than being a nanny for the rest of my life. The time I spent identifying my purpose helped me use my set-back as a setup to pursue what I saw for myself with confidence, and create goals that I could follow with focused determination. You, too, can live an extraordinary life based on your definition of success through the purposeful imagination you breathe into it and the clear plan we set for it. You can begin thinking about your new next level with this workbook. So, go forth and dream big dreams that scare you with a clear plan of execution that empowers you along the way. I look forward to your 2019. 


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