Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Three Tools to Get Where You're Going

Get busy building your dream, right? Isn’t that what I said a couple of weeks ago?

The real question is how?

I’m a process person as I’ve explained before here and here. I’m also into pirates and so from my pirate vocabulary I’d like to offer these essential tools for building one’s personal process for success.

The Map

The map is a tool that shows the way, it provides direction but it also provides the “big picture.”

In business a map is referred to as a plan. That is probably because a plan can be fallible but a map implies finite dimensions like latitude and longitude. Plans are preparation and maps are drawn after achievement, a proven path.

I call my plan a map because, despite the likelihood it will need revisions, I am not inventing this path. I’m following the advice of others who’ve done this before me.

Pirate lore suggests X marks the spot. So I’ve put a big X over this word: “autonomy.” Between the “You are Here” arrow and the X marking the spot are a number of stops, or tasks, I need to complete.

Chris Brogan suggests the plan is a way to stay on task. I’d add it’s a way to generate a task list in the first place. I drew a Goal – Objective – Task pyramid once before.

My plan looks like this:
Most advice columns suggest marketing is the primary occupation of any freelancer.

After considering the majority of my time needs to be spent on marketing, and the second largest chunk spent on something to market, I made a list of tasks that looks like this:

Skill Building
·         Share via Twitter, Facebook, Google+
·         Groups like NAIWE, Columbia Writers’ Alliance, Wordsmith Studio
·         Community building
·         Guest Posting
·         Query Letters
·         Sales Calls / Meetings
·         Proposals
·         Services like,,
Blog Posts
Short Stories
Freelance work $
Online Classes $
On-Campus Classes $
Guest Lecturer
Practice Advice
Contest Submits
Peer Reviews
PhD Work

I weighted each of the tasks against their plan value. The higher value in the plan goes to those tasks for which I get paid. The next rankings come from results, or return on investment. The rankings allow me to determine if a task needs to be done daily, weekly, or monthly and what allotment of time should be given to it.

To rank the tasks, I asked myself: How long does the task take? How much time should I spend on that category? Does it matter in what order they occur?

The Compass

In Pirates of the Caribbean Jack Sparrow uses a compass that doesn’t point north. It points to the thing he wants most. My own compass points to autonomy.

I define autonomy as “doing what I want, when I want.” I had a boss once who told me, “well, you won’t get that here.” So I left. Autonomy is the destination and while the map is showing me the way, the compass’s job is to keep me on course.

I use periodic, sometimes daily, compass exercises. These are reviews of my daily task list and purposeful planning for the upcoming day. Where did I spend too much time? Did it prevent me from doing other important tasks? If so, should we revise that behavior in the plan? Or just make a note of the time it takes?

For example, one of my marketing tasks is to read and tweet the work of my blogger community friends. Sometimes I’m so interested in what they all have to say that this goes on for much longer than the one hour I’ve designated for it.

Community building is a good use of my time so when I go over the time allotted, I decide to either allocate more time to it, or simply remind myself that the next time it’s scheduled I need to be more disciplined.

The Telescope

The magic of a telescope is that it makes very far-off things appear to be very near. This is an invaluable tool for strategic planning.

Athletes use a kind of telescope strategy when they visualize success. What does it look like? What does it feel like? How will I earn it? What will I do when I feel it?

Knowing where you are going and how amazing it will be when you get there are the two key contributions of a telescope exercise. Describe to yourself what the life you want looks like, feels like. Believe you will achieve it. Then revisit that vision every time you feel like giving up.

I would also advise a kaleidoscope exercise. This takes the elements you visualize and reorganizes them like so: what will I do if my expectations are not met? What do I hope will not happen to derail my efforts? The kaleidoscope exercise prepares you for unexpected outcomes. It envisions the problems and helps you prepare to overcome them.

All right, me hearties, grab your map, your compass, and your telescope and set sail. Be purposeful about the direction you’re taking.
Was this helpful to you? Have you had trouble getting your goals into actionable tasks? Leave a comment and share your experience with personal strategic planning.


  1. The methodology is sound and with X marking the spot it is only a matter of time before you are there. I BELIEVE IN YOU!!!!!

  2. As a nurse I have always searched for a job where I could have autonomy and still work within my scope of practice. On numerous occasions I have been able to practice autonomously. The feeling of autonomy is where you are able to do what you want when you want and see the real fruits of your labor come to fruition. It gives you the sense of completeness that can only be felt when you have accomplished your goal. So go for it my dear; you have many horizons to conquer and with your talents you will do it!

  3. That is a very good plan and outline you've made, Kasie! I took notes to help me :-) Thanks a lot, me heartie!
    Best, M.


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