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Traveling By Your Inner Compass: From Theme to Action

Posted Jan 07 2009 5:14pm


Yesterday we talked about the difference between a New Year’s resolution and choosing a Compass Direction for your year. If you haven’t done that exercise, read Traveling By Your Inner Compass: A Guide to a Better 2009, do the exercise and come back in a few minutes.

[Long Pause....]

Welcome back! Now that you have a compass direction, you’re probably wondering, “ How in the hell is this going to help me live a better life?” If you just leave it at the level of abstraction, it isn’t. Today we’re going to begin looking at ways to create action plans based on our directions.

I hope you’ll follow along.

Long Term Planning Doesn’t Work

I’ve been doing organizational and individual planning for about 8 years now and I can tell you without doubt that it’s useless to plan for anything longer than a year. In fact, for most people most of the time, a plan is good for about a week. After that, something is bound to change. You’ll be blown off course and you’ll have to start again.

The good news is that you’ve set a compass direction, so a storm won’t get you lost, it may just require a course correction. The whole idea behind Traveling By Your Inner Compass is to give you a heading to steer toward. It doesn’t matter how many times you have to tack (sorry for all the sailing analogies - they just work!), you’ll get there eventually.

So, if long term planning isn’t useful, how do you begin to translate your compass direction into a to-do list?

First, Start With the Possibilities

Chances are that your compass direction is pretty broad. As an example, mine is “Reach Out.” There are a lot of different activities that can fit under this broad direction. I made the following list of things I could do to “Reach Out” both online and offline in 2009:

  • Guest post on other blogs
  • Become more active in forums
  • Host a teleseminar or UStream event
  • Join a group exercise class
  • Lead a community service project
  • Call one close friend every week
  • Send a handwritten letter every week
  • Network with a new group
  • Travel to 2 new places

This took me less than a minute and I could go on for quite a while.

Your exercise for today is to make a similar list. Trust me, it won’t take very long before you have an overwhelming number of possibilities. You are not committing to doing all of these, or even one of them right now. This is just a brainstorming list.

When you’re finished, leave a list of 4 or 5 of your possibilities in the comments section. Also, don’t forget to follow me onTwitter. I’m tweeting a couple of tips per day to help you through this process.

Tomorrow we’ll be Plotting Out the First Week of action!!

Photo by Kriss Szkurlatowski

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