I am beginning to think that Lewis Carroll was a great self-development guru! I have been re-reading ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and 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 said.
Öh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat. “if you only walk long enough!”

Now, isn’t that the truth! If we do not know or even care where we are heading, but just keep plodding along, we are bound to end up somewhere in our life; and probably wonder how on earth 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 we have any real goal in mind. Most likely we have not even given much thought as to where we would like to be sometime in the future.  Like Alice we just vaguely want to get somewhere!  And of course if that is 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, or decision making and decisive action.  Planning, surprisingly requires that there actually is a plan.  However, a plan may invite actions that may take us out of our comfort zone; which is why the thinking and abstract issues are easy to do, it is the practical applications that become frightening and thus get shelved.

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

So, as I am feeling surprisingly optimistic, let’s examine the “Six Steps in Personal Map Making,”

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

However, if you are uneasy about what the future holds for you; if you are frustrated that you never seem to get ahead; if you watch others being promoted around and secretly wonder what on earth the boss was thinking … then you might find some worthwhile 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 have always been.  Therefore this might be a good time to consider some changes in your life’s direction.

Step 2 – Self-Commitment.     Fairy tales always have a fairy godmother to wave the magic wand and “Bam!!” everything changes.  Mice turn into footmen and pumpkins turn into coaches.  But I have some 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 has 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 into 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 may 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 that 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 situation you should give it 100% of your commitment, because you have considered the alternation 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 scale activities in my time, from extended birthday parties to recruit course march-out parades, and I like a ‘fall-back’ alternative plan; I call it ‘wet weather planning’, because life does not always fit into our clearly defined criteria.  But with a good plan and a possible back up we have a real chance.

So here is where we sit down and create a positive planning strategy.  We create goals to be achieve, 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 possessions.  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 walking towards your goal.  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 your plan.  If you run into obstacles you may have to detour, or even work out a new way of reaching your required destination. But the aim will be to continue moving in your 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 your rough road, stop complaining and make the best of it.  Step off the road and pick another road, any road; with no knowledge of where it may take you … and take the risk.  Or decide where it is you really want to go, commit to getting there and make a map outlining the route you want to take.

Only by doing this will you have a real chance of actually reaching your desired outcome.

Hard work?  You had better believe it!!

Worth it?  Oh Yes!!!

Michele @ Trish

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