Remember the old song, "Which Way You Goin' Billy?" Well, maybe you don't, but it's a lovely song. It also raises a central question for anyone trying to get things done. It's not enough to have a burning desire to accomplish your goal. You also need to know the direction that you will travel. Without a clear direction in mind, a journey of a few days could morph into a lifetime of wandering.
I can hear someone say, "But isn't that a part of life? - To figure out the direction?" I can't argue with that, but that line of thinking can also keep you going around in circles, never landing on your purpose and accomplishing big things. You know what I mean. It's the perennial student who never puts her multiple degrees to work. It's like walking through the forest "with no particular place to go," to cite another oldie but goodie.
High achievers have a powerful sense of direction. You will need one too to get things done. We've all been involved in projects or tasks where there wasn't a solid sense of direction. Team members did what they thought was right or what felt good to them, but there was no cohesive strategy. These ventures usually end in failure or at least the uneasy feeling of falling short of your best work. So how do you address this issue? How do you shore up your navigation to avoid meandering? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Your direction should align with your core values. I spoke with a colleague recently who was offered a potentially lucrative, but potentially shady opportunity. He declined. Why? Because the opportunity didn't square with his most sacred beliefs. This one is a dead giveaway. Let your moral compass guide your directional choices or you may end up shipwrecked.
2. Think long-term when plotting your direction. There's nothing wrong with short term thinking. Indeed, long term goals are more easily achieved by breaking them down in chunks. Steve Jobs said that he was here to "put a dent in the universe." That's long term thinking! The specific steps along the path will vary, as it did in his life, but he always had the same goal in mind: change the world by placing the instruments of change (computers) in the hands of ordinary people. Think where you'd like to be at the end of your journey and work your way backward.
3. Consider your design when plotting your direction. You are a unique, individual person; completely different from all others who've ever walked the earth and all who ever will. You were made with unique gifts, talents and leanings that make you special. This basket of attributes; what I'm referring to as your "design" should set the course for your direction. In other words, run toward the things you were made to do. Why? If you don't, they'll be undone, and you will be miserable!
4. Make a decision and make a move. There's nothing worse than indecision. Even a bad decision feels better than indecision. At least you can learn from it. What can you learn from indecision other than it stinks to be stuck in limbo? Nada. So, if you're aligned with your core values. you've thought long-term about what you're doing and it lines up with your design, take a step! Get moving. No one has a crystal ball on life. Well, maybe some do, but you have to travel all the way to Las Vegas to get their advice. You can't always get to Vegas, so make a decision. Run with your best hunch. You will either miss the target, learn a whole lot then relaunch or you just might dent the universe.
Only one thing is sure. Nothing happens if you just sit there thinking.