I love the idea that there is unseen help available when you set out to accomplish a difficult goal. However, there are things you must do, or you may never see EVIDENCE of that help.
I know you’ve probably heard this before, but one of those things is writing your goal down.
I thought I already understood this. In fact, I had been teaching seminars on that very concept for a decade. But then I learned a very expensive lesson.
In one sense, I had become lazy. But really, I was just fatigued. I had stopped relying on unseen help to bridge the gap between what I could do, and what needed to be done. I had been running faster than I had strength. And I had neglected one very important step.
So even if you think you know what I’m going to say, I hope you’ll let me save you from making the same mistake.
It was years ago when we created an online training program, which was supposed to be released quite some time before it actually did.
The reason for the delay taught me a powerful lesson in goal achievement.
After I had created the curriculum and loaded the content, my husband (who, in his previous life worked in the IT department for Universal Studios) headed up the site structure and development.
Many times, during the first six months of the project, the developers asked me how certain pieces should be handled. Not only did I answer with vague generalities; but (to everyone’s dismay), I also quite often changed my mind.
Even worse, sometimes my answer was, “Oh, whatever you think is best.”
Well, months later – having also spent tens of thousands of dollars more than planned – we looked back on the project, and ultimately realized that it still wasn’t ready to release, because basically, our developers were running after a moving target.
That we put a date to the goal was irrelevant, because the target had not been clearly identified.
During those months after the target date, the site was intricately developed; but every time we thought it was nearly done, we’d discover that it wasn’t quite right and needed to be reworked.
My problem was that I didn’t know well enough – right from the beginning – what I wanted. I didn’t know how the finished project SHOULD be.
All I had was a general idea; and I just took it for granted that the developers would figure it all out for me. After all, they’re the experts, right?
(I guess I assumed they could see my vision, without my describing it in detail.)
Ultimately, after going in circles too many times, the developers finally INSISTED that we give them a fully-developed ‘spec’.
A ‘spec’ is a document that specifies in absolute detail, every single aspect of what the site needs to be able to do, and precisely how it’s supposed to look and behave under every possible user action.
It’s the blueprint for the website.
Frankly, after already spending more than a year creating the curriculum, I was frustrated that I’d have to also help create a ‘spec’.
I wanted to say, “I already did MY part; can’t you all just figure it out?”
But with only vague directions, and different ideas floating around between the developers, problems kept cropping up.
Beta testers lost data, new registrants found themselves trapped in frustrating loops; and worst of all, we ultimately realized that the whole system had been built in the wrong environment, causing problems that weren’t going to go away unless we started all over.
Here’s the point of my confession. I’ve been teaching people for years the importance of putting goals in writing, with detail.
And to be honest, I’ve successfully achieved many of my goals without going through the trouble. It’s tedious work to put it in writing, and I don’t enjoy taking the time. But this experience taught me how much more quickly, and smoothly (and less expensively) goals can be achieved if you DO take the time to create a ‘spec’.
I learned that yes, goals can be achieved if you just muscle it through, one way or another; but you’ll be more efficient, and your “developers” will be better utilized if you don’t leave so many variables up to chance.
So, what about you and your goals?
- Are you vague, or are you perfectly clear about what you’re pursuing right now?
- Do you change your mind often?
- Do you sit back undecided and say, “Oh, whatever is best“?
The truth is, what’s best is that you choose. Excellence doesn’t happen TO YOU. You’ve got to step forward and initiate the change for which you keep wishing.
Life provides hardships and challenges so that you’ll wake up and start doing the uncomfortable things that help you become your best self. That’s why the hardships are a gift. The painful site delays and setbacks became a gift, to teach us this important lesson.
So, if you care about the outcome of your goal, and if you care about how quickly and inexpensively it is realized, then take responsibility for your life and write a ‘spec’. Write your goals in detail, in present-tense, as though you were describing exactly how the finished project (your life) will look when it’s done.
Imagine that you really do have an unseen ‘developer’ somewhere, busily working for you, orchestrating the right people and opportunities for every one of your objectives.
But every time you change your mind, your assistant must drop everything and start all over. If you’re unclear, then even if you don’t change your mind, it’s almost guaranteed that what shows up will be different than what you really meant.
(By the way, I never physically met the developers we had hired; so in many ways, they were just like the ‘unseen help’ that comes to your aid when you set a goal.)
So, create that well-documented ‘spec’. Or if you’re not a techie, maybe it’s easier to imagine that you have some kind of an angelic ‘foreman’ waiting for your blueprint.
Sure, you could probably still achieve almost any goal without a blueprint or a ‘spec’; but the time, energy, and money lost from meandering and course-correcting can set you back so far that you may run out of steam entirely before the dream is realized.
That’s the risk you take when you do not put in writing the things you need and want with detail.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that God and the Universe will ‘figure it all out’ for you. In that case, you may end up meandering and course-correcting a lot more than necessary. You’ve been given the free agency to select good causes in which you will be anxiously engaged. Heavenly ‘help’ is available to you as soon as you’re ready to enlist it. But it won’t impose upon you.
So decide what you want to accomplish, and then ask clearly – and in faith – for the assistance you need.
Don’t be paralyzed by indecision. Don’t wait to know exactly what your goals ‘should’ be. If you think about what you want, and make a decision firmly and resolutely to go for it without hesitation, then if for some reason it’s wrong, you’ll find out soon enough, and have sufficient momentum to make the proper course correction in time.
There is unseen help. When your goal is detailed and clear, the help stays on task with maximum efficiency.
To learn how and why to make it clear, read The Jackrabbit Factor (free). If you already have, then it’s time for the next step. Let me help you activate that ‘unseen help’, so you can proceed with confidence that you’re not going it alone. Originally published August 19, 2011