Your Storyboard

Hand with marker writing: Old/New Life

The “Success of Me”

Now before you think this is an egotistical blog and stop reading, please be assured this article is not about ‘my’ success but about discovering your success!!

Last year, one of my goals was to find an inspiring new job and write a personal plan and career plan for the next five years. The plan was to outline what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go/be, but obviously this is easier said than done. I’ve always been a fan of writing down “to do” lists, but this needed a bit more thought, structure and to be honest I needed something that was going to make me think hard. Ultimately I needed it to be fun, otherwise I knew I wouldn’t Progress with it as I wanted. I discussed my thinking with my good friend Belinda Coates. Belinda uses a list of questions that she asks herself every year. The purpose is to focus her mind on where she is, what she is achieving, what she wants to achieve and how she will achieve it. I loved the idea and took the questions away to work on.

Like with all great ideas, I love to stand on the shoulders of giants and put my own spin on them, so I took the questions and built them into a tool which I called the “Success of Me”. I then used this tool, which I called a Storyboard, to develop what success will look like for me over the next five years and beyond.

So why take the effort to write a personal business plan and find the “Success of Me” for the next five years, especially when you’re a middle aged old fart like myself?

Well in business we review our goals and strategies at least every year, if not every quarter. This helps us define and focus on what success looks like, keeping us informed on progress and helps us understand if we are on track. Many of us do this year on year but do not spend the time focusing on our own personal success, goals and strategies. Neither did I, for many years my career and personal aspirations were never really structured. I had ideas of how I’d progress in business and I’d have aspirations and dreams of what I wanted to do personally, but there was no structured plan. At work I’d rely on my Personal Development Plan, but as you have probably all experienced they are tough to make work and they usually focus on a very narrow band of opportunity. Personal goals would usually be set through New Year’s Resolutions with ideas of what I wanted to do through the year, but we all know how so few of us follow through on those!

I first started to properly plan my future career goals and personal targets when I started mentoring back in 2010. One of the tools I use is a Journey Timeline planner. This tool makes you write down your personal and professional achievements to date, your aspirations and goals for the future and list your Character Angels, people of influence throughout your life. A few years later, when I was let go by AECOM, I was professionally lost. I’d been with Davis Langdon for 15 years in London and Australia and to suddenly be without a job was very foreign to me. My sense of loyalty to them had been unbreakable, and here I was, let go in a split second and walked out the door! I was fortunate that I was self-sufficient and could take up to a year off work, so I started my sabbatical. On a side note, everyone should do this at least once in their career, it’s a great way to recharge and re-evaluate the future. During my recharge time I started to write down what I wanted to do, properly planning my career and my personal “bucket list”. It was very satisfying, as well as gave me the grounding for the “Success of Me” Storyboard I use today.

So back to the Storyboard. Since developing it I’ve worked with numerous people who have used it to set their own targets and the feedback has been really positive. Its’ fascinating to work through the Storyboard with people. I’m no Psychologist but it might be something I need to study to grasp a true understanding of how to get the most from the Storyboard. Obviously answers differ from person to person dependent on their life experiences, career path and roles, but there are always similarities. One theme that comes up a lot is fear, driven by self-doubt. Fear to take the next step, questioning their own ability to take it! Everyone I have ever met, even those at the top of their game have all had self-doubt and at some point experienced fear of the unknown and whether they can take the next steps. Only last week when watching the new movie Creed, there’s a scene where Rocky Balboa is training his protégé, Adonis Creed in front of a mirror, shadow boxing. The scene plays out as follows:

Rocky talking Adonis Creed in front of the mirror: “You see the guy staring back at you?”

Creed: “Yeah”

Rocky: “That’s your toughest opponent. Every time you get into the ring, that’s who you’re fighting against. I believe that in boxing and I do believe that in life.”

Come on, you can’t go against the wisdom of Rocky Balboa!!!!

What the Storyboard does, when you actually write down your own plan, is ask what your aspirations are, what you’re good at, what’s your Why and what are your fears etc. It focus’s your mind to help define what success is. Helps you discover what the future could hold and helps define how you might get there. The middle section of the Storyboard brings all of your answers together and asks you to analyse them to define what makes you, you? Your “Essence of Me” if you will.

You’ll be surprised how many times you revisit the Storyboard, review it, tweak it as your year(s) progress and get the most from it to keep you motivated on achieving your goals.

We are at the start of 2016, so take the opportunity to write down your own questions, design your own Storyboard, ask what you aspire to be, work out your talents and how they will help you achieve your success. Go find your “Essence of Me”!

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