I am beginning to think that Lewis Carroll was a great self-development guru! I have been re-reading ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and have realised that there are some fantastic lessons for living within that great classic.

For instance:

“Cheshire Puss,” said Alice, “would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,”said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where. . . “said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“. . . so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “If you only walk long enough.”

Now aint that the truth! If we don’t know or care where we are heading, but just keep plodding on, we are bound to end up somewhere in our life; and probably wonder how we got there.

If we don’t like where we are at, it is likely to be because we got here like Alice. It didn’t matter much where we were heading as long as we were heading somewhere. Often we take jobs because we need a regular income, not because it will lead us somewhere specific in our life. Probably, we haven’t really given much thought to where we would like to be sometime in the future. Like Alice we just want to get somewhere! And of course, if that’s all we really want, it doesn’t matter where we start or in what direction we travel.

Now, it is true that sometimes merely travelling will, serendipitously, get us to an unexpected fantastic outcome. But I do not have great faith in serendipity always achieving such a goal; usually I prefer to plan my outcomes. I find it gives a greater chance for success.

Planning, of course, requires a fair degree of thought, of decision making, and decisive action. Planning, surprisingly, requires that there is a plan, and a plan invites actions that may take us out of our comfort zone – which is why while the thinking and abstract issues are easy, the practical applications become frightening and thus get shelved.

But if we undertake the planning for a change in our direction carefully, we should be able to prepare a route map that has assessed all the risks involved and arrived at decisions that we can carry through successfully.

So it’s the beginning of a new week, and I am feeling surprisingly optimistic, so let’s examine the “Six Steps in Personal Map Making”.

Step 1 – Self Assessment. If you are happy with life at the moment, if you are feeling self-fulfilled; if you have a clear idea where you want to be this time in five years, then read no further, this essay is not for you.

But if you are uneasy about what the future holds, if you are frustrated that you never seem to get ahead. If you watch others promoted around you and secretly wonder what on earth the boss was thinking … then you might find some worth while tips here.Self Assessment means to make some real considerations about where you are and where you really want to be. Recognise that if you continue to do what you always have done, you will continue to be what you always have been. Therefore, it may be a good time to consider some changes in your life.

Step 2 – Self Commitment. Fairy tales always have a fairy godmother to wave the magic wand and “Bam” – change!! Mice turn into footmen and pumpkins turn into coaches. But I have bad news for you; it doesn’t happen in real life. Or if it does fairy godmothers come in very good disguises. The old adage is true my friends, “If it is to be, it is up to me!” So nothing will happen unless you have a real and substantial commitment to change and are prepared to put some personal time in to it.

Step 3 – Research and Development. Yes, there has to be some real hard thinking about what your strengths and weaknesses are. You need to have a realistic knowledge of what skills you have to offer, and where the difficulties lie. It may be that you need to upgrade your qualifications or even undertake new ones. It is in this step that you assess both the possible success available, and weigh up the risks involved and the costs that may be incurred to position yourself to be successful in a changed environment.

This is where planning for a changed direction often stops. The risks are perceived to be greater than the gains. Risks can be frightening and the status quo becomes more attractive. If this happens, then accept it, but do not continue to allow frustration to dominate your life. If you opt for the present you should give it 100% of your commitment, because you have considered the alternative and decided against it,

Step 4 – Decision Time. If you have committed to change and have researched what options are open to you, then you need to decide what pathway you should set out on. Remember, sometimes we start off on a path only to find that it leads to somewhere we don’t really want to go. There is no shame in retracing our steps and setting out on a new path. The problems start when we continue on a road that we instinctively feel is not the one we want.

Step 5 – Organisation. Anyone in Trischel will tell you that I am big on organisation. I have no problem in coping with the unexpected; in fact I actually expect it! I have planned a few large activities in my time from extended birthday parties to recruit march-out parades, and I like a fall back alternative plan; I call it ‘wet weather planning’. But life doesn’t always fit into these clearly defined criteria but it’s worth a try any way.

So here is where we sit down and create a positive planning strategy. We create goals to be achieved, time lines to keep us on track, and achievement measurements so that we can evaluate our progress. Wall charts appear on the office walls and ticks become prized achievements. Progress is made and measured.

Step 6 – Start walking! Get out and implement the plan. Step out on the path of your own choosing and start implementing your plan. Like any brisk walk, you will need to pause from time to time to catch your breath and take your bearings. How is the plan proceeding? Are you still on track? Perhaps you have deviated from the original route and need to re-assess. If you run into obstacles you might have to detour or even work out a new way of reaching the required destination. But the aim will be to continue moving in a planned direction.

It all seems like hard work, and of course it is. But if you are not happy to remain on your present road you only have three options. Continue to travel on the rough road and stop whinging; Step off the road and pick another road, any road with no knowledge of where it might take you and take the risk. Or decide where you want to go, commit to getting there and make a map of the route you want to take.

Only by doing this will you have a good chance of actually reaching the desired outcome. Hard work? You betcha!! Worth it? Oh yes.

Michele @ Trischel

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