Before writing the first chapter of the Harry Potter series of books, J. K. Rowling planned for seven years at Hogwarts. J.K. Rowling is now one of the most read authors of all-time.
Before creating the first Stars Wars movie in the 1970’s, George Lucas planned for at least six films and started at episode four, rather than episode one. Almost 40 years later, the entire world continues to be excited with the release of a new Star Wars film. This would not be possible if Lucas hadn’t thoughtfully and largely planned ahead.
The principle is simple: Don’t just plant a tree, plant an orchard.
How different might Harry Potter have been if Rowling started the book without any intentions or plans beyond the first book? It may have just been a book about a boy who went to school and killed a bad guy. Perhaps, at the conclusion of that story, Rowling might or might not have decided to write a sequel.
Yet, by “beginning with the end in mind,” Rowling was able to direct and position the first book much differently. The first book, although amazing in itself, was a means to an end, clearly leading the reader to the next book.
Not only that, but by having a long-term objective, Rowling was able to create a much bigger story. She was able to foreshadow to things the reader wouldn’t learn about for sometimes several years!
But she planted those seeds early and thoughtfully, and as a result, each book was a continuation of the next, rather than several disconnected and random stories.
Very few people think this way. But you can and you can apply this to your career goals.
You are the writer of your own narrative. Yet, how often do you plan each year based on what you intend to do during the next year, or the one after that?
What if, like Rowling, you were living this year based on what you intend to do in 1, 3, and 5 years from now?
It’s all in the set up. Career goals are means, not ends.
Everything you do is positioning. Are you positioning yourself to do AMAZING things in 1, 3, or 5 years from now? Have you got enough knowledge to be able to do that job you want to be promoted into this year? Can you get on a training course to give you the skills that you and your company needs?
But you can’t plan for the future, you may say! The real world isn’t Hogwarts! What about Brexit? What about Trump? Well, so what.
Obviously, the world is changing fast. You can’t plan for everything. There will be barriers thrown in your way. But, if you can keep yourself motivated, and stay committed to reaching your goals then you will be in the best position to succeed.
Here's a simpler example: Have you got a new year’s resolution? Have you managed to keep it so far? Stats suggest that only 8% of people keep their new year’s resolutions. This is because most people aren’t fully committed in their decision making and don’t position themselves to reach their goals.
Giving up alcohol is a common resolution for a lot of people. However, in the majority, the temptation to drink can become too great before the end of January.
So, how can you make it more likely to achieve your goal?
Try removing your temptations and put yourself in the best possible position to succeed. Take all the alcohol in the house and put it in a box. Tape the box up and put it somewhere that you won’t pass it daily.
Get an invite from friends to meet up in a bar or pub? There’s no need to decline, but ask your pals to meet somewhere they don’t serve alcohol. Failing that, don’t take out enough cash to allow you to buy the beer or wine you’ll no doubt crave when your friends are opening the next bottle of red.
Stay driven. Remind yourself why you’re making the resolution. Write some motivational post-its and stick them to the fridge.
But, what happens when it becomes too difficult?
According to one of the core theories of motivation, motivation involves three components:
- The value you place on your goal.
- Your belief that specific behaviours will actually facilitate the outcomes you desire.
- Your belief in your own abilityto successfully execute the behaviours requisite to achieving your goals.
If you don’t truly value the goal, you won’t be motivated. If you don’t believe you have effective means of achieving your goal, you won’t be motivated. If you don’t expect yourself to do what it takes, you won’t be motivated.
This theory is known as “Expectancy Theory,” and it highlights that what you expect to happen often does. Hence the term, “self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Interestingly, there is a related concept known as “The Pygmalion Effect,” which shows that what other people expect of you in large measure determines how well you do.
The principles are simple: Expect amazing things to happen and they generally will. Surround yourself with people who have high expectations for youand you’ll generally live up to those expectations.
Conclusion: Be humble.
Does everything in life go exactly how you plan it? Of course not.
Here’s the principle: Expect great things to happen, be happy even when they don’t.
However, just because things don’t go exactly according to plan doesn’t mean you aren’t in control. It is your decisions, not your conditions, which determine your destiny.
When you take up the responsibility to live your life according to design rather than default, you will constantly be humbled and in awe. You’ll be blown away as you watch life unfold as you saw it in your head — as your physical world conforms itself to your thoughts.
You absolutely can live your life how Rowling wrote Harry Potter and how Lucas wrote Star Wars.
You can dream and live BIG.
You can achieve those grand career goals you desire!
But you must think further ahead. 2017 shouldn’t be viewed in isolation. It’s an obvious continuation of 2016 and the precursor to 2018. Whatever skills and knowledge you need to bag your dream job in the future. Start to plan how you acquire them today.
This blog post was adapted from an original idea written by Benjamin P Hardy.