Let’s assume you are one of the top 97% of people in the world already: you have your priorities figured out (you know what’s important and what you stand for), you have a plan (you have set goals, and know what actions you need to take to get what you want in life), and you have even started taking action (you follow your plan and actually do the things you are supposed to do each day to achieve your goals).
There is still probably ONE MAJOR thing that you are still missing, and that one thing can be the difference between long term success and diminishing returns, between continuous growth and damning stagnation, between fiery motivation and loss of inspiration. What could it be you ask?
Regular and scheduled evaluations.
If you fail to take a look at your progress and examine how you could improve your efforts, you are missing a vital step in the process of improvement. Just like a scientist takes time to observe the test results and make changes to make a better result, we should examine the fruits of our labor and see if our plan is effective, or see if we need to make changes.
Many times once we make a plan we believe wholeheartedly that we shouldn’t make any changes. Especially when things have been successful, we are slow to adapt to changes, but in life we must learn to never attach ourselves too strongly to one way of life, this will save us from stagnation and long term failure. We dislike change and it is easier to make a plan and let it run on autopilot, than it is to constantly examine our efforts and make changes as needed.
So what happens when people fail to adapt or change their plan of attack for the future? They miss countless opportunities and will eventually lose all of their success. What would Apple be like if they didn’t engineer new products, add new technology, change advertising methods, and live on the cutting edge of what’s cool in technology? What would Google be like if they didn’t adapt new strategies, invest in new ideas, and take gambles on new trends? What would your favorite sports team be like if they never drafted new players, never changed the roster, and never adapted to new trends like internet and social media? I don’t really watch sports anyway, but I certainly wouldn’t want to watch a bunch of 80 year olds in black and white uniforms, run around at a snails pace trying to tackle one another!
One thing is pretty certain in life, and that is change. Not only must we be willing to change ourselves, our plans, and our strategies, but we must be willing to try new things and add new ways of living that enable us to grow in ALL areas of our lives.
So I recommend adding in a time for evaluation in your schedule. All it takes is a quick review as you plan your next months goals and action plan. At the end of each month or week, take a few moments to look at what you got done; look at what your long term goals are and figure out if you are still on track. Ask yourself “Am I closer to my goals today than I was one month ago?” If the answer is no, then you may need to totally revamp your plan our throw it out completely. If the answer is yes, then there still may be some areas you can improve on. Ask yourself what you did well, what you could improve on, where you can add new skills, or where there may be new opportunities that you didn’t originally plan on.
As time goes on, even those of us with a crystal clear life plan in mind need to be able to let go of old ways of doing things and embrace new beliefs and structures that support us and enable us to grow, The moment you become so set in your ways that you stop growing, stop learning, and stop looking at yourself and your plans and trying to figure out ways to improve you get stuck where you are. Growth comes from change, so if you want to keep growing, you need to start evaluating your progress and creating new ways of doing things.