I stole the title for this post from Simon Sinek who in turn lifted it from Dwight Eisenhower. Simon’s take on it can be found here.

Another spin on this is the adage, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

To be successful, you need dreams/goals and a plan to reach them, BUT you need to remain flexible with your plan as you go. It’s about having a map to help you stay on course. Let’s look at a super simple example of this. I am in Denver and want to go to L.A. The first part of the plan is to evaluate timeline and finances – when do I want to go, how do I want to go?

In evaluating timing & finances, I can determine the best method for getting to my destination. If I am going to LA from Denver, I could fly, I could drive or I could take a bus. If I fly, I may have a direct flight or possibly layover somewhere else first or be delayed. If I drive, I have many routes I could take – the main interstate highways if speed is my purpose, perhaps I want to stop in another city along the way, Santa Fe or Vegas for a few days, maybe there’s construction and I get detoured or the car breaks down and like Doc Hollywood I have to spend a transformative period in a small town before returning on my journey.

The point is to have a plan of where you are heading, but not be so fixed on the exact plan that if you happened to find yourself delayed or re-routed that you throw your hands up and quit because it didn’t go exactly as you planned. As long as you are still making progress towards your goals, it’s all good.

How does this relate to your life? Are you actively creating your life or are you reacting to life?

I’m seeing this pop up around me, like my friend Ben’s recent blog post on specifying his goals as an actor. What do you want? That’s the million dollar question isn’t it? You have to know WHAT you want to be able to set a plan to get it.

It’s hard to plan. It means writing down and/or saying out loud the things we want. That’s a bit scary for a lot of people — because what if you don’t reach your goals? What if you FAIL and now everyone knows it? Well as cliche as it is, you are already failing by not planning. Failing to plan IS planning to fail.

We’re meant to live our lives – not keep our heads down and hope the teacher doesn’t call on us. We’re meant to reach for our goals. To dream big. All the things we take for granted now: TV, hot showers, intermittent wipers, microwaves, ipods, antibiotics, electricity…..all those things didn’t work at some point, they failed, but because someone dreamed and didn’t give up, those things succeeded. Success and failure are both valid outcomes of the same process. It is by failing, we take one step closer to success. If we can view failures as simple detours or the car breaking down on the road, then we can see these do not stop us from reaching our goal, they are just part of the journey to our ultimate success.

I think a lot of us don’t know how to plan either, at least I didn’t. I had general goals, not specific ones and I’ve since learned having specific goals is key. I have 2 tools to share with you on planning that I found helpful in breaking down big hairy audacious goals into actionable, achievable mini-goals. (I share these freely. I do not get any kickbacks from anyone I’ve mentioned in this post.)

The first is the Goals Toolbox from Keith Ferrazzi who wrote Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back?

The other is a 12 month goals worksheet by Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich. This worksheet asks you the tough questions you need to be asking yourself to get a clear vision of what it is you want so that you can create a plan to achieve it.

When you have your dreams and goals written down – share them. Sharing your goals with everyone means you will find the support you need to keep going when things get tough or you think about quitting. Yes it’s your journey alone, no one can do it for you, but they can be there to pick you up when you fall or cheer you on when you feel like you have nothing left. It’s like the movie, Iron Will. Anyone seen it? It’s about a big audacious goal, a long, hard journey, and the courage inside us to pursue our dream fully. When we share our dream, the people we share it with become investing in seeing us reach our dream. They want us to reach our dream because that means they have a shot at reaching theirs too. That’s powerful stuff right there.

Dream big my friends. But don’t only dream…. PLAN. Write it down, share it and then get out there and take the next step of your journey.

– Mikita