The saying “Rome was not built in a day” wouldn’t have held true ever more than today.

In my professional life, I meet several young men and women who are in a hurry to ‘succeed’ in whatever they’re doing. Most of the times, success for them means quick money, fancy cars, luxury vacations, large homes and a luxe lifestyle. The keyword here is quick, which rarely happens considering the VUCA nature of today’s businesses, stiff competition and the uncertainty of jobs and careers. What results is heartburn, frustration and leads to giving up on life altogether. Few people realize that success – what we must define as achieving our long term goal in full, may not come quickly and without a roadmap.

A few days ago, I went about asking people what their long term goals were and I was in for some rude shock for very few people had a long term goal in mind. Most of them (my colleagues, friends, acquaintances, relatives, etc.) had only thought about short term goals. At best, they had a vague dream which they confused for long term goal because there was no roadmap to achieving it.

I have a friend, let’s call him Albert, who has put in almost 20 years in a tech company and has just started his website hosting and cloud space company while holding a day job. He wants his company to become the first choice for anyone who wants to purchase a domain name and hosting account. Though his company is doing decent business through primary referrals, he has no clear plan to achieve that long term goal. How then, will you do that, I asked, to which he replied he will figure it out along the way.

I would never leave my life goals to “Figuring it out” when we can have a plan. Success comes sequentially, not as a windfall. I’ve seen people hit the plateau in simple goals like losing weight. I have a friend aged 45 who weighs a good 120 kgs. Standing at a good over six feet, his weight was moderately distributed across his body and he looked imposing. However, he wanted to become lean and had a lofty goal of being at around 80 to 90 kgs. When I asked him how he intended to do that, he replied that he’s doing something whenever possible but not getting any results. I would have expected him to tell me about his dietary plan, weight loss buddies, exercise regimen, health check-up and more.

In both the above cases, I found that they missed the bus when it came to achieving the goal because they didn’t know where they were headed in the first place. The same holds true for goals like earning a million dollars before turning 30/40/50, saving enough to take that coveted world tour, building an old age home at your village or even reading 100 books per year. There’s a clear ‘what’ but nothing as far as the ‘how’.

I happened to read Gary Keller’s The one thing and really liked the ideas given therein. Gary even has his retreats where people can participate and learn goal setting the GPS way. GPS is

Goal– the one thing that becomes your primary goal in life or like some spiritual evangelists like to say ‘Definite Chief Aim’

Priority – those chosen few things you need to do to achieve them

Strategy– the path you need to tread to reach there

I absolutely loved the way Gary has broken down the one thing (the definite chief aim or the primary goal in life) into simple achievable levels.

Let us apply these principles to my friend Albert and his dream of building world’s largest web hosting company. I tried understanding what scale he used for that – largest number of websites hosted on his servers or wealth and looked like he was unclear about both. Read more