Pop quiz hot shot: Do you have a notebook next to your bed, in your bag, at your desk, etc where you write down random goals and ideas 24/7? Or in today’s world, an e-list on your mobile device? If the answer is yes, you need help bringing that all in to focus and get control of the bus without continuing to speed or crash!
If you are like me (a curse or a blessing depending on the day!) you are always thinking…obsessing… about your development. But I often find myself drowning in ideas with no focused plan, I start something but don’t finish it because I get distracted by a new idea. Or I build out a plan that is way too aggressive and then get down on myself because I miss a deadline. Or I work on the thing that most excites me at the moment without mapping any dependencies (the old phrase don’t put the horse in front of the cart). Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of research that shows that people are more likely to accomplish a goal with a time frame/due date. But I think sometimes people get too bogged down in the details of those goals. Or they don’t build in flexibility for new ideas. This is your development, it should be what is right for you at that moment. It’s allowed to bend and change as needed.
One way to help you focus your development goals while staying excited, engaged and still open to future ideas is to create an “Idea Board”, or binder, or google doc, etc. Stay with me. This is not “The Secret” (no offense, I know that book really empowered a lot of people) or some in-depth, perfect craft creation Leslie Knope would make on “Parks & Rec” (though I am proud to recognize myself in that character many times!) This is meant to be a place where you can post notes, images, articles, business cards, print outs, etc. Each month (or week depending on your time commitment) look at the board and pick one thing to do. Keep adding to the board as you come up with new ideas. As I mentioned, this can be anything, it doesn’t have to be some big bulletin board in your home or office. Whatever will work best for you. This idea is just to inspire you 🙂
Hint #1: Put a little orange dot on anything that has a dependency; this way you can decide if you want to tackle something that has a couple of phases.
Hint #2: Find a way to capture your ideas on the go (so you can then add them to your idea board). I use the notes app on my iPhone. But again, find the thing that works for you.
Hint #3: If there are specific areas you are trying to focus on (enhance knowledge, build network, etc) divide the board into sections. This way you can pull an idea from a specific development area. It will also help you to see where you are low on ideas. If you are low because you keep pulling from that section, it will show you were your real passion lies. If you are low in a section because you don’t come up with a lot of ideas, ask yourself why that is a development area/focus. You want to be successful so maybe it’s not the right focus for you right now…but don’t be afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone too!
Hint #4: This isn’t just about development. You can use the same principles if you are trying to launch a new endeavor. It’s multi-purpose!!
Hopefully an Idea Board (or something like it) will help you continue to be excited about your development and goals while keeping you focused so you feel like you are making progress on your path forward!
If anyone wants to share any pics or ideas they have, please share in the comments section or send me pics and I will post! Here is a picture of mine! Good luck 🙂
Footnote – Ironically, as I was working on this post, this article from ASTD was sent to me about how companies, talent managers, everyone, need to focus their offerings. It ties in very nicely to what I wrote about above and shows that you are not alone if you need to be more disciplined in focusing your development!