Ravi is a Denver-based Executive Coach and 14-year veteran of Microsoft Corporation where he led Product Management and Planning teams for various global software products. As a Coach, he is an expert in helping people build careers they can be proud of! In addition to writing on his blog, he is an ultra-marathon runner, yoga teacher, and gadget junkie. Say hi on Twitter @YogiRavi.
How To Make Life Goals A Reality
When I turned 20 years old, I left the safety and structure of my university classes to join the working world. Unlike school, with its regimented syllabus and rhythm of exams, careers are not as clear cut. There are no exams or set procedures that dictate advancement. As I stepped off the treadmill of my academic life and walked along the meandering path of my career, I quickly learned that I had the power and potential to create the future I wanted, not just for my career but my life. While building the future is a never-ending process, it is not mysterious and is quite fun! The process for making life goals a reality comes down to three primary things. First, the practice of making decisions and being clear on what you want. Second, identifying the resources and skills to help you get there. Lastly, learning and improving along the way. These three simple strategies worked for me, and I am sure they can work for you too.
What do you want? It’s a simple question but one that most people don’t bother to ask themselves often enough. Deciding on how you want your life (or any particular aspect of your life) to be is the first step to living well and creating your best future. I learned how to set goals early on in my life. First through playing sports as a kid (“Can I run three miles nonstop?”), then through college (“Can I graduate with top grades?”), my corporate career (“Can we build an even better version of our product this year?), and finally and currently as an Executive Coach (“Can I help my clients to live extraordinary lives?”).
The goals started as questions, which I then clarified into specific targets. Goal setting is the art of making decisions about want you want to achieve in your life, and who you need to be to make it happen. It’s like a muscle, and the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Practice setting small goals and making clear and consistent decisions. Then, start dreaming big and set goals for how you want your life to be over the long term. If you run into any roadblocks, don’t worry, that’s where being resourceful can make all the difference.
I believe that we never lack resources, we just lack resourcefulness! Whenever I’ve wanted to achieve something in my life, I’ve often noticed how there tends to be a resulting gap in my skill or knowledge. I’ve also noticed how there is always a way to close the gap by having a conversation with an expert, reading a book or two, or enlisting the support of a coach or accountability partner to follow-through on what I need to do. For example, just over one year ago I left my corporate career to embark on a new venture as an Executive Coach for Technology Professionals. I did my coaching training with Erickson Coaching International) and waited for clients to show up. While I knew I was a great coach, I also knew that I had a knowledge gap when it came to sales and marketing. I immediately hired a coach who helped me create a customized plan for selling and marketing my services, and within six months had a “full” coaching practice. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though; I had plenty of small failures along the way, providing ample opportunity to learn and improve my approach.
Learn and Improve
The way to live an extraordinary life is through the commitment to learning and improvement. The belief in one’s capacity to learn and grow from experience is a hallmark of what world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck terms a “growth mindset.” With a growth mindset, people believe that capabilities can develop through effort. Virtually all great individuals in history have had this mindset. Good news is, the decision to have a “growth mindset” is a choice we all get to make! For me, I know that whatever outcomes I create in life, at the minimum, I will have a tremendous opportunity for learning. With this frame of mind, I know that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by pursuing my dreams. I welcome every challenge as a chance to improve. I know that if I set goals, commit to finding the resources needed to achieve them, and take the time to learn and grow, I will ultimately find success. This strategy has worked for me, and I’m confident it can work for you as well.