SEVEN STEPS TO NAVIGATING Fear of failure

The following article appeared in the latest edition of Flybe magazine:

 

WORDS ROBERT KELSEY

 

Step One:

DISCOVER YOUR TRUE VALUES

Visualising your goals could lead you in the wrong direction without first establishing your true values.

• Research your values across a long enough timeframe to span different moods and needs (for example, Sunday family get-together, Monday meeting, Friday socialising, and so on).

• Focus on discovering what is truly important to you: health, intellect, friendship, family, success and so on.

• Also ask why? The why answers provide a firmer foundation for the resulting document: Your Constitution – the creation of which is your core concern for Step One.

• Your Constitution should be a bullet-pointed statement about what you stand for. There are no limits on the number of points, and there should be no material or personal specifics in terms of goals (these come later).

• Make sure Your Constitution appeals to your values while being flexible. For example, a statement such as “I want to run a 200-person law firm serving major corporations” is too specific, while “I want to combine my professional qualifications with my entrepreneurial instincts” is more focused on our values and more flexible.

• Once edited, write Your Constitution in the back of your day-per-page diary and – importantly – renew it annually. This does not mean a wholesale rewriting but the acceptance that your values are likely to evolve over time.

 

Step Two:

VISUALISE YOUR GOALS

With your true values established, you should indulge yourself in this most enjoyable of exercises: visualising yourself 10 years hence.

• Find somewhere alone and away from distractions. Make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes. And travel into your future – projecting yourself forward a full 10 years.

• Examine every detail of your life in 10 years’ time. What are you wearing, where are you living, what constitutes work – and play – and who are you with?

• Work should be a key focus. What does your place of work look like: a corner office in a corporate skyscraper, a book-lined study at home, or perhaps a workshop or studio? And here is it: Mayfair, the Cotswolds, Manhattan?

• How do you spend your day: on what projects and with whom? What do the results of your endeavours look like?

• Try focusing on different aspects (work, home, people) at different times – building a detailed picture of the life you want to live 10 years from now.

• Once done, write it all down (writing the final version in the back of your diary). Be specific and describe your life in detail and using present-tense language. “Year 10: I am living in a thatched cottage in Dorset with my wife, two children and two dogs.” The more detail the better.

• Make sure your visualised future dovetails with Your Constitution. For instance, if you wrote “I want to be a valued part of a thriving community” as part of Your Constitution and then visualised yourself living as a hermit in the Outer Hebrides, you may need to reconcile these apparent contradictions.

• Renew your 10-year visualisation annually, as you change diaries.

 

Step Three:

DEVELOP THE MILESTONES

Now build your path towards that idealised 10-year peak. Divide up the expanse of time in front of you – repeating the visualisation exercise for different moments along your timeline.

• To make the 10-year goal achievable, what has to be in place at the halfway stage? Perhaps you wanted four children. Well, number one should be here by year five, perhaps with number two on the way. Meanwhile, being CEO of a multinational company may mean you should at least work there, or at a rival, and be making some progress up the ladder.

• Details are still important: the house, the office, the people, the car. Visualise them all for the five-year stage, and write them down.

• After your year-five visualisation, think about year two. Where must you be in 24 months to make the five-year goal not only possible but inevitable? Again, details please.

• Then look at the one-year horizon. What has to be in place in 12 months to make sure you achieve your 24-month goals? Then six months. Then three months. Then one month. Then one week. And then tomorrow. What must you do tomorrow to make sure your one-week goal is achievable?

• When writing the milestones, ignore the “dreaded hows”. Only for the immediate steps do you need any focus on how something is to be achieved.

 

Step Four:

ESTABLISH A STRATEGY AND

SOME TACTICS

Develop a strategy that acts as a bridge between your goals and your tactics – making sure your action points are focused on your objectives.

• Undertake a SWOT exercise in which you divide your current circumstances into Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (again, a written exercise for the back pages of your diary).

• Examine the SWOT to calculate a strategy for execution – perhaps focusing on the opportunities and your strengths to guide your early actions and on overcoming your weaknesses as part of a mid-term plan.

• Aim every action point at moving you towards your goals. Arrange them in a linear form (i.e. one after the other), although some flexibility in execution is important (perhaps being deadline driven).

• As with Your Constitution and 10-year visualisation, the SWOT can be renewed annually, as progress will add strengths but raise different weaknesses, as well as reveal new threats and opportunities – each driving new strategies and tactics.

 

Step Five:

EXECUTE EFFICIENTLY

Set yourself up for efficiency – and then follow through by turning this process into a habit. • Invest in your workspace. Buy lots of new stationery and equipment to create an office or workshop you are proud of and want to occupy.

• Divide your week into hourly slots from eight to eight and make the best use of every one of those 84 hours – making sure your every action is moving you towards your goals. Treat every minute, every hour and certainly every day with this in mind.

• Adopt Stephen Covey’s (slightly altered) four-box grid for your every action – noting what actions occupy which of his four boxes: urgent and important, urgent but not important, not urgent but important and not urgent and not important.

• The not urgent but important box is the most important zone for your progress. Work out what is in this box and timetable the hours required to ensure those actions are executed. Make this the centre of your world.

• Meanwhile, urgent but not important items are the most distracting and need to be managed. Timetable periods for dealing with these actions and be proactive with those that add distractions (perhaps pre-empting their needs).

• With efficiency gained, you can reframe the not urgent and not important actions as the moments you recharge your batteries, connect with significant others and note your progress.

 

Step Six:

DEAL WITH PEOPLE

There’s no progress without improving your people skills.

• Develop a depersonalisation of your pursuits. Long-term objectives and an achievable strategy should allow you to become Me Inc. or Me Ltd – a single-person company pursuing its objectives.

• Treat setbacks as strong lessons for future judgements and actions. They are not final judgements upon you – just bends in the road for Me Inc. as it pursues its objectives.

• “Develop your compassion.” Poor self-beliefs may have given you poor evaluation skills with people. You dislike yourself, so you dislike others and therefore develop low empathy and zero compassion. Reverse this by developing a more compassionate and generous view of all those you encounter.

• Develop win-win strategies with everybody. High-FFs [people with a fear of failure] have a poor track record with win-lose battles – so avoid them. Meanwhile, helping others achieve their victories is immediately sustainable and self-reaffirming.

 

Step Seven:

FIND YOUR UNIQUE GIFT

Everyone has something they can offer others. Finding it and focusing on that as an objective is highly effective.

• Spend time discovering your unique gift. Your Constitution is likely to offer clues, as are your objectives, although it may be something you move towards, rather than adopt immediately.

• Help others calculate their longterm objectives and develop strategies for their success. This will put you on the road to recovery because you are facing the right way for developing effective people skills.

• Bind your goals with those of others to reduce your own damaging self-absorption. This will also unlock your positive traits, and help neutralise the monkey because he has no domain over other people.

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