Over a year ago I was sitting in a meeting at work where we were discussing some shortcomings in our division’s financial forecasts for the year. Due to some unforeseen complications it was looking like we were going to be below the numbers that our mother company was holding us to for the year. After looking at some of our other options we found that there were foreseeable paths to get to the required forecast, but we had to hope that everything went right for us to make it.
This is when the VP of Program Management dropped a quote that ended up being written on our CFO’s whiteboard for the next year at least. He said, “Hope is not a sufficient procurement strategy.” He wanted to know what the takeaways were going to be that would allow us to go out and get those new contracts that we hoped would come through.
Since that meeting I’ve thought about that statement quite a bit. All of us have dreams and hopes. We spend a lot of time thinking about the future and what it’ll be like when I attain the desires that we have as a family. But sometimes we look so far beyond the mark that we forget to watch out for the pitfalls that lie right in front of us.
In order for us to attain our hopes we have to not only be able to know that our end goal is attainable but we have to be able to lay out a realistic plan of action to get there. Then, news flash, we actually have to act. This is the hard part, where the rubber meets the road, and all those other sayings. It’s incongruous thinking to believe that the mere existence of the plan will deliver results.
“But it’s haaaard!” – (whining voice)
Yes it is. Life is going to be hard at times. And just remember that nothing that is easy is worth attaining.
But where do you start? Finding where to begin can be the most difficult part of achieving our goals sometimes. If we start too late we might not have enough time to finish, if we start down the wrong path we might not realize it until it’s too late, and the list of worries continues. Thus a need for an Action Outline (term coined right here, patent pending ; ) ).
Therefore, my challenge for you today is to spend some time to sit down and, if you haven’t already done it yet, write out your lifetime desires. Then work on creating a list of goals that you plan to accomplish in order to get to the final desires. For us, this detailed list of goals started to make a more clearly defined path of action (i.e. in order to have accomplished goal 3 we would first have to accomplish goals 6, 9, and 14).
Now look at those sub goals (i.e. goals 6, 9, 14). Are there any of your other goals that need to be accomplished in order to complete any of these? If there are, list those out under that goal. Once all of the sub goals are correctly categorized into their respective parent goals you will be able to easily see your Action Outline taking form.
Here’s a simple picture of what our Early Retirement Action Outline would look like:
Notice that you will have multiple Action Outlines to match your multiple lifetime desires. And don’t worry if you end up having to add additional sub-elements to it as time goes on and you run into additional roadblocks. Also notice that what this did for us was to break up the one huge, daunting task into 8 smaller tasks that will be much easier to work on.
By understanding the lowest levels of this plan you will be able to have a clearly defined starting point as you begin that looming odyssey towards achieving your hopes.