Do you have a goal you want to reach, but struggle with how you can effectively accomplish that goal? I use a strategy, which I also teach my clients, to plan and execute a goal. This specific strategy works because it eliminates a lot of the worry, doubt and the unknown.
It’s a strategy I developed when I combined the power of visualization that I learned as an athlete and timeline and experience graphs that we used in my bereavement studies and NLP training.
Thinking with “the end in mind” is not a new concept but here’s a way to incorporate experience graphs and timeline plans to be able to lean into the future
Thinking with “the end in mind”
As an athlete, I was trained to view everything with the end in mind. Professional athletes and their coaches use visualization and kinesthetic imagery as part of their training. Olympic athletes and professional athletes alike know the power of training the mind and the body to perform at its highest capacity AND reach a goal that seems far out of reach. Here’s a great article in Psychology Today that explains that process in greater detail.
To plan and execute a goal, combine the power of the visualization exercise with that of reverse engineering, as well as some of what I learned in my bereavement studies and NLP training.
Reverse engineering is taking a goal and starting with the end in mind. You then work your way backwards, to today, creating a step-by-step plan. This is very powerful. Often though, we only know the few steps near the completion of the goal and the few steps we need to take to get us started.
Examining the “in between”
It’s the “what’s in between” that is unknown. When I was studying Bereavement, we used Loss Experience and Relationship Experience graphs. These are linear graphs on which you list your life experiences from the day you were born until the present day.
As you look back on your life, you begin to remember things that you don’t think of as often anymore. They are stored away in your memory banks, and you don’t think of them until something happens or you need to tap into a memory.
While creating these graphs, you come to appreciate the truth behind the adage, “hindsight is 20/20.” You begin to list the most powerful, pivotal and life-changing experiences; and you come to see and appreciate all the great learning that has come from them.
There’s a new sense of appreciation for what you have been through that is no longer only cast in darkness. There’s a lightness that surfaces with the new-found appreciation for what you have lived through. There is a new perspective that is created in looking back and evaluating from a place of observation and learning.
So, how do these pieces: visualization, reverse engineering and experience graphs, fit together as a powerful goal setting and plan-creation exercise?
As you begin to take steps to move forward, for example, through a major life transition, you can see into the future, and create a plan that is powerful, helpful, supportive, and transformative.
Create your experience graph
1. Draw a line on a sheet of paper from the left-hand side to the right-hand side.
2. Mark today’s date at the beginning of the line, on the left-hand side.
3. Mark the end date for your goal or plan on the end of the line, at the right-hand side. By what date do you want to say you achieved the goal or complete the plan you are working on?
4. Mark the centre of the line with the mid-way point date.
5. List the first three things, on the timeline, that you know you have to, or could do, to start working on your goal or your plan.
6. List the last three things, on the timeline; you know that you will have to do, based on what you know today, to make it to the completion of your goal or plan.
7. Since you do not know what you may have to do from the first three steps to the last three, you will want to tap into visualization and your life experience to help you fill in more steps BUT this time, only go from one step to the next, one block of time to the next.
By chunking down the time in between milestones, you’ll be able to “see” more of what you can do. Add them to your timeline.
8. As you take those steps in your mind and begin the process, visualize where you are today and run through the timeline as though you are watching a movie preview, seeing the big pieces that you have to do, until you reach the successful completion of your goal or plan.
9. Then run it backwards. Yes, run it backwards. Rewind the movie and watch how it plays out in reverse.
10. Then run it forward again.
11. This time you may find pieces that are missing, and you can add them to your timeline.
12. Finally, as you take action on your plan, you will add to what is missing, the in-between steps, resources, actions, you want to take to reach the next milestone of your plan.
Like the headlights of a car driving at night, you may only see but a few feet ahead of you, but as you keep moving ahead, more of the road in front of you reveals itself, and you can see more clearly what lies ahead.
Ultimately, you know the direction you are headed. You have your roadmap with you. You take steps to move forward.
And remember, be aware and let go of tolerations along the way. Re-evaluate your priorities and stay focused on what truly matters so you can say yes to the right things and no to the things that do not serve you. If you run into fear or worry, list them. Shed light on them and then find resources, support and people to help you through them.
I’ve taught this process in my programs, and I teach this process with clients. It works.
I invite you to leave me a comment if you understand what to do, if you have questions, or if you get it and can’t wait to put it into action. I want to know how this has been helpful to you and how I can help you in your journey.