Who do you want to be? How will you get there? These questions plague the success-driven.
Ask yourself, where do I want to be in 10 to 20 years? Then ask, what do I have to do today to be there?
Julius Caesar was 42 and the Roman Governor of Spain when, happening upon a statue of Alexander the Great, it occurred to him that the younger man had conquered the then-known world when he was 33. Caesar responded by changing his life, and the rest is history.
Planning for your future requires one important element: organization. It involves taking the components of your life and assembling them into a systematic routine aimed toward a particular result. Absent organization, you can look forward to frustration, wasted time, poor performance and lack of perspective.
Organizing your life yields three priceless resources: time, efficiency and perspective. Everybody has the first. Each day contains 24 hours that can never be recaptured. If the average life of a person is 73.5 years, that's 26,827 days, or 643,860 available hours.
Time is finite. When we waste it, we can't go back and make up for it. By managing our time, we gain control of this resource and can accomplish more in a shorter period.
The dividend of time management is efficiency, the ability to do more with less. The wealth and ease that most people have in the United States is a direct result of increased efficiency. The evolution of the world from agricultural to industrial and now to an information age is tied to ever-increasing productivity.
We need to look for ways to continue to increase our productivity. Are we involved with overlapping activities with negligible rewards? Every wasted activity eliminated is time discovered to produce more results.
Perspective is the ability to form a clear view of your environment. How often have you felt overwhelmed, only to realize you were going in circles? The person without perspective cannot see his or her path. But when we step back for a moment and consider ourselves as outsiders might, we can correct our course.
The Portuguese navigators of the 14th century kept detailed logbooks and records of their voyages in uncharted waters. They were considered state secrets. In our life's voyage, it's only by keeping detailed records of successes and failures and the choices that brought us there that we're able to adjust our course for more profitable waters.
Where should you begin? First, take an honest look at yourself. Three major steps will follow:
No. 1, examine every aspect of your life -- work, leisure and spiritual -- and make an inventory. Assess the tools at your disposal. What is your expertise? Who might give you insight? What are your assets and liabilities? Where are you wasting time? Are you spending too much time relaxing? How much time do you spend at work? What are your work processes? Where is your work being duplicated?
No. 2, group the parts of your life into components. Ask what is important. Then incorporate these aspects into one central command post, or organizer.
The Roman army was one of the most successful in history because it was one of the best-trained and best-organized. It was divided into divisions, or legions, of 6,000 men, which were divided into cohorts, which had several centurions over various units.
Through superior organization, Caesar was able to conquer the larger but less well-organized armies of Gaul in a few years. Your organizer can likewise become a central command post from which you will be able to direct the needed resources to win the war. It should contain some lever of control over every aspect of your life.
No. 3, execute your plan of attack. Do you need to make more sales? Do you need more products? More locations? More quiet time? With a panoramic view of your personal battlefield, you can begin plotting your strategy for the rest of your life.
We are only given one life, and now is the time to make it count. We can't go back and capture lost time. We can only look forward and make the time we have left count. By organizing ourselves, we can all get there. Fred Koury (email@example.com) is president and CEO of SBN. This column originally appeared in the October 1998 issue of SBN.