Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ready For Anything: Chapter 4 -- Getting to Where You're Going Requires Knowing Where You Are

"It takes about ten years to get used to how old you are."

You're gonna need a map, and you're gonna need to know how to read it.

Sure, you can hire GPS to tell you where and when to turn. But be ready to put up with the sighing "Recalculating," when you get off Chatty Cathy's chosen path.

Nope, you're gonna have to come up with answers to these six questions--then know them on a deep level, internalize them--in order to best position yourself in your world of hopes, dreams, and daily to-dos.

According to David Allen, in order to set your priorities, you're gonna have to understand that these six questions add up to one big one: What's your job?

1. What are your current tasks? Allen reminds us that these are those to-dos last mentioned, your current "next actions," and that the average person has "between a hundred and two hundred of these" every day.

What are your current projects? These are agreements with yourself about what you want to achieve in the relative short term. Getting the car ready for a 5,000 mile vacation. Getting your applications for grad school completed. Planning a wedding. Allen estimates most people have between "thirty and a hundred" projects.

3. What are your current areas of responsibility? You have these both on the job (teacher, coach, liaison to PTA, Class of '13 sponsor) and at home (care and feeding, finance and investments, recreation, education). Ten to fifteen of these we each have, says David Allen.

4. How are your job and personal affairs going to be changing in the next year? In other words: How will you be guiding your ship in the coming year? What are you trying to change? What needs to change in your business, home/family life, personal approach in order to achieve your next steps forward?

5. How are your organization, your career, and your personal life going to change? What are your longer-range goals for achievement and personal growth? What projects will you need to undertake to get there?

6. Why are you on the planet? What is your job as a human being? What do you need to accomplish before you die?
Who are you?

These are big questions on big levels. They get to the heart of what you want to do or be.

"Most people," says Allen, "want to do or be something in the future -- something different. But without a reality-based reference point of where they in fact are on all levels of life, they're like the Flying Dutchman, doomed to drift."

Clarifying your reality -- finding out where you are on your personal map of success -- tells you exactly where you are, and so, which way to turn next to get where you want to go.


  1. These are really big questions as you say. I'm trying to answer them. Thanks for posting them Jay!

  2. Yes, I'm working on them myself, Heather. And you're welcome!

    Still working on CoPORDing every day, but getting better.