HomeChallengeGoal setting is like flying an airplane

A new year is upon us, 2011. Most are looking at their last years resolutions and making some changes. Others who gave up on their 2010 resolutions soon after they started are starting some new ones this year. Most may not have achieved what they wanted. But some have. How are they successful? They don’t just set some goals, they file a life/business flight plan. What do I mean? Let me explain.

In any aircraft while you can just fly VFR (Visual Flight Rules) during good weather, in inclement weather you fly IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) and you need to file a flight plan of where you are going and how you’re going to get there. If you don’t arrive, they’ll start looking for you.

Whether you fly VFR or IFR, both require you to take stock of what you’ll need in the way of gas to get there and what to do once you arrive. If you run out of gas in the air, you just can’t pull over to the nearest gas station to gas up, there are fewer airports than there are car gas stations, so you need to plan carefully your trip.

No different than a business, to a certain extent. A business plan and a flight plan take on six questions. What is your:

  1. reason to go somewhere, your why.
  2. intended affected person, your who.
  3. is you action once you arrive, your what.
  4. starting point and you destination, your where.
  5. time frame, your when.
  6. plan or steps to get there, your how.

As I describe in my book How to Start a Business: Mac Version I go into the reasons how people look at achieving, or not achieving, what they wanted or wished for.

Here’s how to look at it.

Why? It all starts with your Why. Why are you here on earth? Why are you living? As my friend Harry Tucker states on his Facebook, “New Year’s Resolutions: If you are living your Life on purpose, you already know what you will be doing in 2011 and don’t need such empty committments. If you are not living your Life on purpose, no matter what resolutions you make chances are you will not bother keeping them … so why bother with them at all? 🙂 If you don’t understand your purpose in Life, start there.”

In our flight planning scenario, why are you going to where you want to go? Why are you heading to your destination?

When you understand your why all else will fall into place. Too often people manufacture their why into something that is not authentic, that is not them. In other words, they’re only after the money rather than a Life Purpose that changes people’s lives and allowing the money to follow after their Purpose.

What? What actions are you going to take to get to your destination.

Who? Who is your why affecting? In most cases in a business it’s your customer. As a pilot, it could be you, a customer if you’re an airline pilot, or the US if you’re a USAF pilot defending out nation’s interests. In a few cases it may be yourself, you want to arrive at a certain destination.

Where? Where are you going? In most cases people know exactly where their destination is going to be. In others, much like Christopher Columbus, they have a general direction idea, as is with most startup businesses, but don’t know until they make some progress. Once they make some progress it become clearer where they’re headed or need to go. My book started out with an idea, but I had to make some course corrections during my flight in order to get to it’s final design.

As with any flight and business planning you need to take into account the changes in the weather. Same with businesses, once you put your first product/service out into the “customer’s weather” is when you’ll need to adjust course to avoid the rough weather of bad decisions, suppliers going out of business, or even low to none existent credit. All of these bad weather business scenarios need to be watched out for and planned, as best as possible, to go around, or through as a last resort.

When? You have to make a decision as to when you intend to take off based on when you want to arrive at your destination. Muck like project planning, you find your date and time of arrival and work backwards how long it will take to determine when you need to take off. Same goes with releasing a product, just in time for a major trade show or a launch party.

How? Now you have to piece together the steps needed to the above questions into a plan to achieve at arriving at your final destination of your business, or more important, your life.

Remember that your final destination will include family, friends, and stops along the way. That’s life. Too much business and no planning for life is like flight planning with only gas to take with you and not the luggage of life’s twists and turns.

So, where are you going in 2011? Place your trays in the upright position, we’re ready for takeoff.

Or better yet, let’s do an F-15 max climb out……….


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