Work Backwards!

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule,

but to schedule your priorities.”  

-Stephen Covey

This wise quote conveys the importance of goal setting and planning your future.  Goal setting can feel like an overwhelming task, in fact, many people struggle to do.  It is difficult to foresee the future when you start from the present.  However, when you start from the vision and work backwards, you can uncover a clearer idea of what the road-map will look like.  This gives you the benefit of calculating more precise steps of what is needed to attain the end-goal.

Identify Milestones

A major benefit associated with backward goal setting is that it helps you to easily identify milestones.  When you start from the present and set your goals, they will probably be mostly comprised of immediate things on your to-do list.  When you start from the goal, the first milestones your brain produces will be high-level goals, ones with many subsequent steps.  Once you’ve established the subset of goals needed, correlate them closer to the present.  As with any form of goal setting, being accountable on due dates will be vital to success.

Better Understanding

Backward goal setting can also create a better understanding to your team members.  It can be easier to present to team members when working on group projects.  Good presentations outline the goals early on and use the remainder of the presentation to illustrate critical milestones that need to be hit.  This minimizes confusion for team members because they don’t have to figure out the main points themselves.  Backwards goal setting works in the same way.

Use It As Motivation

Backward goal setting can also be much more motivating than traditional planning.  Plans tend to be less cluttered with smaller tasks, so everything appears more manageable.  It also highlights areas in the process that will require outside assistance or additional resources, thus preventing unexpected hiccups along the way.  And with enough self-discipline, this method will eliminate time pressure caused by procrastination.

The following quote from Stephen Covey is a perfect illustration of why it is vital to success:

“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination.  It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now so that the steps you take are always in the right direction”