As a working mother of two young children, the future is constantly on my mind. Even though both of my kids are under two, I am constantly thinking about things like where I want them to go to school, or what will happen if they need orthodontic work, or when we will outgrow our current house. Sometimes it feels we are living in the future, rather than the present.
Recently, I read an interesting article about leadership by Lynne Robertson titled One Step at a Time, and Beware of the Barbed Wire, that offered an important reminder to not ignore the present. It can be easy to get caught up in the future by visualizing where you want to be, professionally or personally, in five or ten years. I know I am not the only one guilty of constantly setting new goals and figuring out what steps I need to take to achieve them. But if we forget to plan out how we want to get there, we might miss things that will keep us on track, or worse, we might make missteps that set us back.
The part of her article that struck me the most was that the future happens whether you plan for it or not, and things that once seemed far in the distance, are suddenly behind you. About two years ago, before my son was born, I remember wondering what he would look like and what his personality would be like. I blinked and now I have an almost two-year old who looks just like his dad and has the most spirited and loving temperament. Having two young kids at home, working a full-time job that I love and navigating a social life with family and friends can be overwhelming. But I have found that whether I am ready or not, the days, weeks and months continue. In her article, Robertson discusses how you can prepare for what is ahead:
· Study the map – Know your success metrics and watch them like a hawk.
· Care for your crew – Never get complacent regarding talent, and don’t ever believe that your key players are easily replaced. They’re not, and their absence leads not only to a culture drain, but a brain trust deficit as well.
· Plan checkpoints – Focus on three things to accomplish by the end of the fiscal year. Make them concrete and measurable.
Robertson’s article focuses on planning for a professional future, but whether it is your career or your personal life, the only way we can achieve the future we want is to make sure you have a plan and pay attention to the steps that will get you there.
Just as my son did while learning to walk, I am learning to take the future one step at a time while keeping my eyes on what’s ahead.