Guest Post: Get Back In That Box!

Thinking outside the box has long been a corporate buzz phrase used to encourage people to arrive at creative solutions to their common problems. For many companies, action stops once the phrase has been uttered because they rarely do anything to encourage creative thinking. Cubicles are not conducive to thinking about anything other than how to get out of the cubicle!

In my experience, people become too dependent on their “out of the box” thinking. They use it as an excuse for not achieving what they want out of life. They use it to justify their crappy job, bad relationships and their beat up car. You see, thinking outside the box does not allow for much planning. It is all about being creative. News flash, the successful creative people in this world STILL PLAN AHEAD!

Often people become overwhelmed by the idea of planning. There are so many different kinds of plans, from vacation plans to business plans, from family planning to personal planning. The options for getting started seem to be endless. Any person or business that has successfully used a plan will swear by their process. The question really comes down to this, will you use the process and stick with the results?

Sometimes the issue becomes clouded because people confuse planning with goal setting. Goal setting is a key component of planning. I am sure you have heard the saying that a goal without a deadline is a really a dream, but a goal without some type of plan is just as fruitless.

Fortunately, planning does not need to be difficult. There are five key steps in developing an effective personal plan:

1. Define outcomes. This is where the dream part of a goal is important. Keep the deadline for when this is to be completed and add to it a little emotion. How will you feel once you have achieved your goal? Who will be impacted along with you?

2. Define outputs. What about this goal can you measure? Some things are immediately obvious about goals, but what about the intrinsic qualities of you goal? So what if you have the perfect house by the time you are 40, what else is good in your life by then?

3. Define Activities. What actions in your life will it take to achieve this goal? If your goal is to run a marathon, what is your running plan? If you are running for city council, what are you doing to become known in your community?

4. Define Inputs. This is fun. You get to list the things that you currently have in place that will help you reach your ultimate outcome. It can be as simple as having a dog that loves a good run to your mom loving you enough to bake you cookies. List EVERYTHING! This inventory will also help you determine the activities you need to undertake to acquire the inputs you need to achieve your goals.

5. Plan review time. Most Sunday nights you will see me with my laptop and notebook documenting what I have done and what I will do to achieve my goals. My process is not laborious, but it is necessary tto keep me on track. I also rewrite my OUTCOMES every night before bed. This keeps me focused clearly on what is important.

Please keep in mind that the only perfect planning process is the one that you will follow. I truthfully do not have the time to do all of them! Keep your expectations of performance realistic as well. If one part of the plan does not go as hoped, re-evaluate and move on. Do NOT dwell on what should have been. Take your lumps, learn your lessons and plan accordingly.

Thanks for reading David S. Lingholm. You can visit me at http://goal52.blogspot.com or follow me at www.twitter.com/davidlingholm

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1 Response to Guest Post: Get Back In That Box!

Terry Henderson
February 6, 2009 at 9:30 AM

Nicely written, however that's what's wrong with people nowadays, Education has been reduced

to Indoctrination, by Teachers who care more for their union, than the children they are

supposed to be teaching.


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