In my last post I talked about how to sharpen up vague goals. But just how much do we need to know about a goal in order to achieve it? Do you need a detailed picture of the goal plus a detailed route map before you can get moving?
You may well need a detailed picture of the goal at some stage and you may need a detailed plan too, but you do not need them in order to get going. Imagine for example that you had an enormous goal like building a bridge between the English mainland and the Isle of Wight. To get the bridge built you are obviously going to need detailed specification and plans. But you won’t have these at the beginning of the process. In fact when you first decide on the project you will probably have little more in your head than “A bridge between the mainland and the Isle of Wight”. There are a huge number of stages to go through before you get to the detailed specifications. You need to research it, get political support, and do a thousand and one other things before you get to the stage of a detailed plan. At each of these stages the whole situation may change dramatically.
To get moving on a goal the essential thing to know is that you can recognise it when you get there. A bridge is a fairly recognisable thing, so you should be able to recognise it when you have built it! It doesn’t matter what type of bridge it is or exactly which points of the mainland and the Isle of Wight it joins together, it’s still going to be a bridge. You might even end up with a tunnel instead of a bridge and still feel that you have achieved your aim.
Most of us are not likely to be in charge of projects of this size from first conception to execution. But if a detailed plan is not needed initially for a huge project like a bridge, then it’s not needed for our comparatively tiny projects either. All we need to know about our goal at first is enough to be able to recognise it when we get there. It may help our motivation to visualise the goal in detail, but don’t confuse the details with the goal itself!