Great achievements rarely ever come in a single shot. They come from a lot of little steps, one after the other, day after day. The successful people in life are able to visualize their goals, but that’s really the easy part. Successful people are also able to visualize the pathway to their goals, the series of steps along the way.
That is why planning is so important. You must learn to plan each day, each week, each month, if you’re going to reach the ultimate goal. Great things do not happen by chance. Acheivement is not haphazard. You need a strategy, a plan of action. You need to realize that every day is a step along the way, and to plan each day accordingly.
We’re all given the same 24 hours in every day, the same 7 days in every week, the same 30 or so days in every month. What we make of that time is largely dependent upon how well we plan and organize the minutes and hours of our lives. Everything you do will have consequences down the road. You can’t escape that fact. What you can do is to make sure your actions today will lead to the consequences that you desire.
Visualize the unbroken chain of days stretching into your future. Are all the links there, or does your chain just have a beginning (now) and an ending (where you want to be “someday”)? If you see your goals occuring “someday” rather than on some specific day, that “someday” might never come. Seeing the end of the road is a step in the right direction. Now you’ve got to fill in the middle of the road. What are the steps that will take you to where you want to be?
One useful method is to start with your goal and work backwards. Say you want to sail around the world. To do that you’ll need a boat and plenty of experience sailing it. To get the boat you’ll need money. To get the experience you’ll need to take training courses and crew on other people’s boats. To get the money you’ll need to save and invest on a monthly basis. To take the training courses you’ll need to do some research and see who offers the best ones. And so on. . .
Any thing you want to do, any goal you have, can be worked backward like this, all the way back to today. Once you work it back all the way, you have a clear picture of what you need to do today, tomorrow, and every day until your goal is realized.
Achievement does not come from wishful thinking. It comes from action. Before you can take action, you need to know what that action is. Look at where you want to be, and lay out the path to get there. Then, when you get started every morning, you’ll know exactly where you’re going.
— Ralph Marston