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But what if it’s out of my league? The Kaizen approach to planning

Most people I speak to do have an idea about what they want…

Whether it’s for a long term career, relationships, adventure or hobbies, most can articulate a dream they have.

But then almost everyone says the same thing:

“But it’s out of my league!”

This is a weird but highly prevalent term people use to describe their dreams.

The problem we face is that the dream job seems too impossible and overwhelming when we look at the complete picture. We feel like we’ve hit a roadblock because we don’t know where to start to achieve such a MASSIVE undertaking.

In this short but sweet (and sexy) post, I’d like to share with you a simple technique for getting past this confidence barrier. It’s time for you to get to a place where you love every second of the day, not just getting home from work.

One of my biggest secrets to success is ridiculously simple:

BREAK YOUR LARGER GOALS DOWN INTO SMALL, MANAGEABLE MILESTONES

Then rank them in order of priority and just start going through them like a to-do list, focusing only on what you need to do short term.

This is based loosely on the Japanese concept of kaizen. In the manufacturing world, this means improving performance and quality one small step at a time… continuously. That’s how I approach success in any walk of life: just one small step at a time, always looking to do slightly better than yesterday.

It’s like putting $5 a week into a bank savings account. Instead of worrying about being a millionaire, just try to figure out how you could get up to $6 next week. And $10 the week after that.

When it comes to your career, breaking it down into milestones can help you figure out how to slowly but continuously improve over time.

Start with the end. Write out your ideal situation as a descriptive story, such as a perfect job, great relationship, smoking hot body etc. Make sure you describe the relevant detail concisely.

Then ask yourself, “What would need to happen the step before that?” and write that down. Keep repeating this until you are down to describing your CURRENT situation. This will give you a step-by-step path from where you are now to your dream life.

EXAMPLE: THE FARMER

Ideal: Have my own successful farm with 100s of cows and a nationwide milk distribution business.

Before that: Grow the milking business
Before that: Start up the milking business
Before that: Buy the cows
Before that: Buy the farm
Before that: Get dairy business mentorship and any qualifications
Before that: Develop expertise in the dairy industry
Before that: Invest in some cows of my own for my employer
Before that: Complete an apprenticeship in dairy production
Before that: Get a job as a farm-hand

Now: Labourer


You can see from this example that this person’s next step needs to be about getting a job on a farm. They can let go of the big picture for a while and just dedicate their energy to that.

The next part of the process is about breaking that first step down into manageable goals. Think of each of those steps as “milestones”, whereas the goals you set to achieve each milestone should be ACTIONS.

Figuring out the steps can be a bit trickier than what I’ve described here of course. So below are my top tips for how to research the information you need to figure out those steps.


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1) INTERVIEW THE PEOPLE WHO ARE DOING IT ALREADY

This is BY FAR the most effective source of this kind of information, because you can be sure they know what they are talking about. Call them up, offer to buy them a coffee, and ask if you can pick their brain.

Don’t worry that you’re intruding – people LOVE to give advice most of the time. Just tell them that you admire how they’ve gotten to the role and you want to learn from their experience. Bear in mind that the value needs to be shared, not taken. Have something to offer them in return so that everyone benefits.

2) GET A MENTOR OR COACH

Work with your boss, your professional supervisor, or an outside coach.

Tell them about your aspirations. Ask their advice on the likely skills you will need to learn, activities you will need to get involved in, and potential growth or stretch responsibilities you could take on.

They will also help you overcome barriers along the way, which includes the mental blocks you face even when just in the planning stage. Decision-making and planning need to be done free of fear or irrational restrictions. Mentors and coaches can help with that.

3) READ THE “JOB DESCRIPTION”

If it’s an employee position you’re aiming for, figure out, through the competencies listed, what you don’t have yet that the job requires. Then brainstorm how you could acquire those skills or experience. The same applies to starting your own business – figure out what skills and knowledge you will need to succeed.

Too many people apply for jobs without knowing what is required. These are usually the same people who have the false belief that being good at their current job will help with a promotion.

You need to figure out how to be good at the job you want, and then add those skills to your current job. This way you can answer questions in a job interview with “I have done this already…” rather than “I could probably do that…”

This is how you smoke your competition!

MOVING ON…

To see an example of me following this path, check out this post I wrote about starting my coaching business. See if you can identify the milestones I went through.

The main thing is to get MOVING. Get out there and figure out what you need to do to get the next job on the path to your ideal role.

This same process applies for wannabe entrepreneurs too, except focus more on asking successful entrepreneurs how they started up their business, and particularly ask for marketing advice.






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