You know that kindergarten game, Duck, Duck, Goose? It goes like this: We sit in a circle and one person walks around tapping each of us on the head, saying “Duck” until they tap you, and yell, “Goose!” Then you jump up and try to catch them before they sit down in your spot! It’s a perfect analogy for how a lot of us use tactics and strategy. We often don’t get the results that we want, until we ignite a strategy that makes the tactics have meaning.
How do you know when you need a tactic as opposed to a strategy? Most of us have heard that familiar saying, “We won the battle, but lost the war.” Or, “I won the argument, but we’re getting a divorce.” Sometimes even when we win, we lose. Maybe it’s because we’re making a rookie mistake.
Rookies focus on the win. You’ve probably experienced this once, or if you’re like me, more than once. You’re excited about a new opportunity, and you can’t wait to show what you know. But in your rush to show, you learn very quickly that what you didn’t know bit you in the a–!! If only you had slowed down, you would have avoided a painful lesson.
Veterans focus on the win over the long haul. They employ their skill, knowledge and experience to win, just like the rookie, but the veteran’s doesn’t fall for the tactics, he or she is thinking in much broader terms. Veterans are veterans for a reason. They’ve figured out that, sometimes, you have to lose to win big! So how does this relate to your life?
When you don’t have a vision for your life, your goals tend to be narrow in scope. When your goals are narrow in scope, you tend to use tactics to be successful. Tactics are necessary and very helpful, but tactics need to be used in conjunction with an overall strategy that serves the vision that you want to have for your life — if you want a life that makes you happy about who you are, what you’re doing, and who you are with for the long term.
Tactics – targeted plans and methods to get you what you want.
Strategy – is the framework and planning you use to make your vision a reality. It is made up of the tactics that will get you what you want in the long term.
Vision is the driving force behind your choice of strategy and tactics.
While each of the elements can incorporate a plan, it is the scope of the planning that will get you long term success.
Steven Covey wrote, “Begin with the end in mind.” Tony Robbins asks before he even starts a business, “What’s our exit strategy?” The question that both of these great men are talking about is the simple idea that when you’re sitting in your rocking chair at age 90, how do you want to feel about the life you led? What would have meant the most to you?
What would make you satisfied so that you smile that smile? What would you have to do to live your life with little or no regrets?
If you decide that you want to begin with the end in mind, you need to have a strategy to do that. One of the best strategies that I know of is to have an effective life map that takes you from where you are now to where you want to be. Here’s a graphic that gives you the frame work to set up a path for success:
Resources: The first stop on your map. Make sure these items are in place before you begin to gain efficiency and effectiveness.
- Vision – The goal for your life
- Plan – What is your plan to achieve it? What steps are you going to take?
- Motivation – What is your big why about this goal?
- Habits – These are the actions taken on a daily basis that will help you work your plan to success. What are the big rocks of this goal?
- Mindset – The attitudes and beliefs that will support you in your quest. Who must you have to be successful?
- Emotional Support – These are the people who believe in you, believe in your dream that will back you up and cheer you on to victory. Who are they and have you enlisted their help?
- Money Skills – How do you need to manage your budget to be successful in attaining your goal? Do you have to save? Do you have to target your purchases? Do you need to get investors?
- Time – This is when you plan to work on the activities that will bring you to goal completion. When is the best time to schedule your activities? For how long? How many times per week? t
Obstacles: This is the second stop on your map. You have started to work your plan, and may have even hit a benchmark or two. What do you notice? Is there resistance? Identify any obstacles and modify your plan now for great success.
Obstacle Obliteration Plan – The OKAY Method
- Options: What are they? List them. If you are satisfied with the list, go directly to Step 3. If nothing comes to mind, or the options you came up with are not up to your standards go to Step 2.
Kall for help: Help!!! There are resources to help you when you open yourself up to look for them. Remember who, what, where, when, why, and how from English class? Apply it here.
- Act: Take action on the How you learned in Step 2.
- Yes: As in yes you can be successful by evaluating and then acting on the feedback you get. If you haven’t achieved the result you wanted, immediately go back to Step 1 and repeat the steps until you are successful.
Consistency in Working Your Plan: This is the third stop on your map. Things seem to have a momentum, and it looks like your plan is working. Don’t get distracted or skip action step –sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking we are doing the steps when we are actually doing them in our imagination!
Check – In: This is the fourth stop on your map. It feels like you are going to be in this spot forever.
- How’s it going?
- Do you have to modify? Yes, go back to Resources to modify plan.
- If not, keep on keeping on.
Five F’s: This is the fifth stop on your map. This is where you want to quit, because it is taking so damn long! You are impatient and just want to let it go. However, this is where you do your final digging deep, final push toward the end. Check yourself out with these:
Fear – Are you afraid? Nothing is more important than how you feel when you have accomplished this goal. Do it anyway!
Fatigue – Are you tired? How do you get energy and reignite your motivation? Remember why you wanted this goal in the first place.
False Beliefs – The way to breakdown beliefs is to test them! You can finish this! Test your thoughts and assumptions. Maybe something needs to change?
Fix and regroup – Test to see what works, and apply what you’ve learned.
Final push till end – Perseverance. It isn’t over until you have attained your goal!
The number one tactic used by people everywhere is the S.M.A.R.T. goals framework. This method will help you develop goals that will give you short term gains in service of your long term strategy. Your goals need to have these elements to be efficient and effective:
S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework
• Specific – A specific goal is clear and not subject to interpretation. In other words, a six year old could understand it. For example, I will text my husband every day to tell him I love him so that he can feel close and important to me even when we are apart. This a very specific goal with a very clear outcome. How do I know I achieved it? By asking my husband. If, however, my goal was to “be more loving.” It really isn’t clear what that means. Do you get the difference?
• Measurable – Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress so that you know how close you are to achieving your goal. For example, a goal that states, “I will have a full right leg split by the end of six weeks” is concrete and clear. My measurement of outcome in this example is a full split.
• Actionable – Is this goal within your current skill set, or do you have to accomplish other goals before you can attain this one? For example, if I say I want my Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology this year, when I haven’t even completed high school, then I am setting myself up for failure — unless I can test out of all of my requirements, and start my program immediately! Is my goal within my current skill set?
• Relevant – This is key! Choose goals that matter to you. A relevant goal answers yes to the following questions:
a. Is it worthwhile?
b. Is this the right time? (Financially, Stage of Life, Emotionally)
c. Does this goal fit with my overall vision of my life?
• Time-bound – A goal must have a target date, in order for you to have sufficient leverage to accomplish it. A deadline that is too far into the future is easily put off. A goal that is set too close to the present may not only be unrealistic, it can discouraging. The target date you set must fit your schedule, the type of goal it is, and supports your overall plan.
So, the next time you are trying to decide what goal to go after, remember to go back to the vision you have for your life. Then decide whether you need a tactic or an overall strategy to get you there. My goal is to have you make the choice that will make you smile that smile when you are rockin out in your rocking chair!
Until next time, thanks for reading!
Remember, you are so much more than who you think yourself to be