To achieve personal success, you should first know what you want. You should first know your destination. Then, after knowing your destination, you should figure out how to get there.
I recently read a great strategy about “how to get there” in the book The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz. While the strategy is aimed at companies, I believe that it’s just as applicable to individuals. The strategy is called “tacking” which comes from the sailing world:
He (the sailor) knows that he will not follow a straight line; the changing winds alone will not allow for that. Instead, he will travel in a zigzag-like pattern.
By tacking, the sailor travels a short distance, maximizing the winds and avoiding hazards. He then analyzes where he is in relationship to his destination, adjusts the sails, redirects the boat and continues the zag part of his travels. After another short distance he again evaluate his relationship to the destination and adjusts.
These routine adjustments will eventually bring the sailor to his destination.
Isn’t that similar to achieving personal success? You know where you want to go, but the wind always changes along the way. No matter how good your plan is, unexpected things always happen. You need to respond to them and adjust your actions accordingly or you may never reach your destination.
For me, this is a great idea that I have started applying. From my past experiences, I know that things always change and a tactic might not work for long. Holding to it in the name of habit or discipline will only take me further away from my destination.
So now I decide to use the tacking strategy on a monthly basis. Here is what I do:
- I look at my life purpose and its one-liner.
- I set a goal of the year related to my life purpose.
- Based on the goal of the year, I set some specific objectives for the month. I set the objectives based on what I think are the best tactics to achieve my goal.
- I work hard the entire month to achieve my objectives for the month.
- Near the end of the month, I evaluate how things are going. Did I choose the right objectives? Do the objectives take me closer to my goal? Do I find better tactics to apply?
- Based on the evaluation, I set new objectives for the following month. These objectives could be the same or different from the previous ones.
That’s how I apply the tacking strategy. I do my best to travel a short distance (one month in this case) before evaluating my position and adjusting my actions. In my opinion, tacking is a very good strategy for personal success. It allows you to adapt to changing situation.
One question you might have is: why monthly? One month is the best duration for me. It’s long enough to apply a tactic but still gives me twelve opportunities a year to adjust my actions. Of course, your situation may be different, so find the duration that works for you.
Photo by wili_hybrid