Times are hard for many people for many different reasons. In the world, there are huge conflicts and divisive messages. There has been so much tragedy and loss. It can feel like our lives (and our focus) are overwhelmed with what’s happening “out there” in the world, leaving us with unmet goals and dreams. We can feel helpless to address what’s happening in the world AND hopeless about putting our gift for healing out into the communities we serve, in the way that we want.
Although it may be challenging, I want you to take a look at your goals as a helping professional over the next year. What is your vision? What strengths are you bringing with you into your next stage? What do you see as getting in your way?
When we’re dissatisfied with where we are, it can feel like huge change is required. And facing some gigantic transformation can stop us in our tracks. We keep doing the same things, looking for the right time to start fresh, a totally different way. Oftentimes, we’ll reserve the new year for these great metamorphoses that we’ve imagined, but even then we might be overcome with all that we’re facing, and push it off again.
Frequently, when we’ve sought another perspective or let things simmer over time, we realize that gigantic change isn’t required, we just need to evolve. Small tweaks or shifts in perspective can serve our purposes. And those can happen right now.
So how do we do make that happen? How do we consciously work to evolve?
In order to move forward, we have to know where we are and where we need to go. Specifically. Not just big ideas, but the concrete details that go with them as well. We need to become really clear on our strengths, our challenges, and our goals. Clarifying is about taking a full assessment, with honesty and vulnerability, in this moment. Don’t worry, we’ll re-evaluate and re-assess, coming back to this step frequently during the evolution process. However, we absolutely need to do this first to define our starting point. Keep in mind, sometimes getting a really clear evaluation requires an outside pair of eyes. Turn to your colleagues, supervisors, mentors, coaches, and consultants to identify more specifically where you are and what’s realistic to set as goals.
Once we’re clear on the details of our current and proposed “status,” we have the foundation upon which to create the future. Brainstorm, think outside of the box, dream, innovate. The more creative and imaginative you can get, the better. You don’t have to be realistic in this phase, you have to break open wild, out-of-this-world ideas to see if you can find better ways to move forward. Also remember that you’re not committing to anything – sometimes you find much smaller shifts after thinking of complete 180 degree course corrections. Don’t become overwhelmed by the what ifs, revel in them – you just might find a 2-degree shift that’s way better than what you were planning in the first place. Also, if you’re struggling to find new ideas, this is another time that an additional brain can help. Different perspectives and life experiences can enrich this process immensely.
Okay, you’re clear on the what, whys, and what’s nexts. You’ve thought about every radical idea you can, to get you where you want to go. Now you’ve got to jump back into reality. Simplifying is the process of filtering your ideas through what lines up with the big vision, what’s realistic in the timeframe you want to accomplish it, and what lines up with your strengths, priorities, and values. Cross out ideas that you don’t like or can’t do. Adjust ideas that don’t quite line up with your strengths. Refine ideas that have the potential to meet your priorities. Identify simple, actionable steps that you can take now, and each day following, that consistently lead you to your goals. These steps or actions can be small – sometimes, the smaller the better. Make sure that you know exactly what you (or members of your team) are going to do and when, so there can be appropriate accountability.
Think of a tall ladder – with your goal at the very top. So often we feel like we should be able to immediately reach our big goal – which is like trying to jump and grab onto the top rung of a very high ladder. Instead, identify and spell out each rung, each small step forward. Put those steps in order and set timelines. Each small step you take, when part of this strategic “ladder,” moves you consistently toward your big goals. One small step at a time.
Take the steps and hold yourself (or have someone else hold you) accountable. It doesn’t matter if you have an amazing plan if you don’t implement it. You can have laid it out perfectly, but if you don’t have a date to complete each small step, and you don’t hold yourself to those deadlines, it won’t happen. If you know you can’t do it on your own (or if you discover that along the way), find an accountability partner or a coach who can provide some external accountability to keep you moving forward.
Once you’ve taken action, it’s time to clarify again – you’re at a different place. This process is on-going. When we take strategic steps, evaluate those steps, problem-solve, and set new plans – we evolve toward our big goals and dreams.
This process of evolution requires setting aside time to plan and assess progress. We do this with our clients, but can often have trouble making this happen for ourselves. We get caught in the day-to-day grind, distracted by world events and our own daily crises. We react rather than plan. If you’re committed to evolving into the best version of yourself – prioritize this task and see where it takes you.
Would you like help planning for your next step? Join me for the Plan Your Strategic Evolution 180-Day Program, designed specifically for helping professionals. Check out the details and sign up for a free initial consultation here: https://bit.ly/OwnYourCareerPath