When planning a trip, we always begin with where we start to then figure out how best to get to where we want to go. Focusing on the path to get there is our only concern. Not how long it will take. Nor evaluating if the route we choose will be the fastest.
The equivalent of planning a trip in our personal or professional lives is identifying a goal(s) or outcome(s) we want to work towards. Creating very clear descriptions of the endpoint we desire before beginning our journey. This is no different than planning a trip once we identify the location we would like to visit.
What is different in identifying goal(s) or outcome(s) occurs when we introduce time as a variable. Asking ourselves the question “by when”? The instant we do this, our desire changes from a dream to a possibility. Knowing that the outcome we seek is only probable and not entirely certain.
Time forces us to now weigh paths forward against constraints. Exposing obstacles or inconsistent thought stopping us before we start. Requiring a solution before proceeding further. Sequence also needs to play a larger role in out thinking. What should come next? How long will it take?
Where things change drastically, is when we start at the end and work backwards. Forcing us to simply ask a simple question each time – “if this is where I want to end up, what needs to be completed prior to this endpoint”? Then repeat this question over and over working backwards until you get to where you are today.
While we have a tendency to rush to a solution, or state a goal as if it was easy to achieve, doing things backwards slows us down. It’s not easy to think backwards. Making each of our steps more thoughtful and considered. Helping us determine how much time it will really take to achieve what we desire, while giving us intermediate completion points to judge if we are still on schedule.
Those of you who do a lot of project work use this type of thinking every day. Most of us who don’t, easily get stuck in wanting outcomes or goals without thinking through how to make them a reality.
Creating your roadmap by going backwards, is a good first step when you really want to achieve something important to you.