October 9, 2017

Tips for achieving life/career outcomes you yearn for

Jim Pawlak

"The Decision Makeover — An Intentional Approach to Living the Life You Want" by Mike Whitaker (Greenleaf Book Group Press, $21.95).

When evaluating where you are and where you want to be, you must realize that outcomes are the result of your choices. While there are many situations over which you have no direct control, there's one thing you can control — your what-do-I-do-now reaction. Whitaker divides his decision-making advice into the three zones: prep zone (before age 16, recommended reading for your teenagers); critical zone (ages 16-40, which profoundly affects career, worklife and family choices); and consequence zone (over 40 where a retrospective can turn "woulda, coulda, shoulda" into "do things differently" going forward).

Here's some advice from Whitaker's "Toolkit" about making decisions in the critical and consequences zones: Tool 1. Define your primary goals for career, relationships, lifelong learning, bucket list and retirement. Recognizing that decisions in one area will have an impact on the others, choose "five prime goals" from your list.

Tool 2. "There's only one No. 1." Rank your five in order of importance. Make decisions that support achievement of No. 1. This will require some trade-offs with the other four. As you make progress, the trade-offs diminish and you'll find that there's a new No. 1.

Tool 3. When it comes to trade-offs, the long term trumps the short term. Example: If career is No. 1, you may face a choice with altering family vacation plans because project priorities and deadlines suddenly change. Absence at a critical time at work can have a lasting impact on your career goal. Postponing a vacation (even though there may be cold shoulders at home and money in cancellation fees) will have a short-term, negative impact on another goal.

Tool 4. Measure progress. At work, this can be easily achieved by crossing things of your prioritized to-do list. Look back at the end of the workday at all you've done to move you closer to your goal. Taking small steps toward a goal creates an "I'm doing it" mindset. If progress hasn't been made, shift the mindset to "recalculating" to get back on track.

The Bottom Line: "If it is to be, it's up to me."

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