Do you remember your first road trip?
I bet the first time you planned your own road trip, a lot of things went wrong, but it was memorable and fun! Road trips draw perfect parallels to how you should think about success and life. You have a starting point and a predestined ending in mind. In between, you’ve got route navigations, detours, hot Cheetos, and etc… Your goal is to reach your destination while minimizing boring bits and make the most out of the ones that you couldn’t avoid. You want to minimize the chance of getting lost so you can reach your destination on time.
Often times, people don’t plan out the goals for their life but have meticulous details for a weekend trip. Usually, it’s because they fear a large number of unknowns that will inevitably change their plans anyway. This guide will teach you how to plan at a high level so that your planning will feel meaningful and help you reach your goals!
Step 1: where are you going?
This is your life we’re talking about. Do your research and confirm whether your destination (or success criteria) is actually what you want; it’s much easier adjusting the roadmap than the destination. Though it’s not required, I do encourage you to find inspirational people and read about their journey and goals to help set your mentality on the right path!
Now let’s break your destination into components.
Step 2: Milestones
Think about what it takes to reach your destination and come up with high-level milestones. This will help you spot check and make sure you didn’t veer off-course on your way to the destination. It’s also a great way for you to time check so that you can adjust your approach, as needed. For example. If my goal is to be a millionaire, my first milestone is to find a career that I love where the salary multiplied by number of years I want to work (adjusted by career advancement) equals a million dollars.
Step 3: …Cheetos?
Hot Cheetos are little distractions you add to your roadmap so that you get a chance to give yourself a break. Some of you call it cheat days, I call it Cheetos. Why? You need a bit of unhealthy to stay healthy. It’s unhealthy (not to mention unrealistic) to be “on” all the time, so add Cheeto breaks. Like hot Cheetos, they’re delicious and fun but you need clear indicators so that you don’t end up spending more time on distractions than the journey at hand. I use hot Cheetos as an example because when you’re about to burn your face off, it’s time to stop. Road trips are long, and brakes are necessary. Make it clear to yourself which components are rest/recovery and what are life-changing initiatives. Aim for a 20/80 ratio.
Step 4: Never forget
Breaks are important, but never forget that your journey is built for the destination, not for the distractions. Once you’re all amped up and in the zone, you’ll feel like life passing through on fast forward… you’re basically on the freeway covering miles like nobody’s business! Being in the zone feels incredible! However, know that freeways are not destinations. Always make sure you’re well situated for success and be aware of the bigger picture of where you are and where you want to be. You might even find shortcuts along the way! What you don’t want it realizing, too late, that you’ve missed your destination completely.
Map it… Map it good… Map it real good
Now that you can visualize the components that will make up your roadmap, actually do it! Pull out your favorite adulting utensil and draw yourself on one end of the paper and where you want to be on the other. Before you instinctively draw a B-line, in no particular order, throw in all the things you think you might need to do before you can reach your goal. This is a brainstorming session; we will organize and prettify later. This might take a couple of days and a bit of research, but it’s your life we’re talking about! It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you can always iterate. Enjoy the process like you would the road trip itself and I promise you everything will be ok!
Fill in the high-level components first, then go one step lower, then deep-dive one step lower. All the while, check for accuracy, then check completeness, and check again to admire how awesome your road trip is. You SHOULD be excited! If not, then perhaps you should give your destination another think.
Coming Next: Thinking positively