By Curt Rosengren Curt Rosengren –US News.com
Without action, dreams remain little more than electrical charges in your brain. Action is the alchemical step that turns those dreams into reality. It’s a pretty straightforward idea, but if you’re anything like most people, you probably find that the right action doesn’t always happen at the right time (and sometimes it doesn’t even happen at all). Here are eight questions to ask yourself to help you make progress and gain traction in your career.
1. What is my goal? This one seems a no-brainer, but it’s worth revisiting on a regular basis, first to make sure that you are keeping it on the top of your mind (the busyness and challenges of life can sometimes take top billing), and second, to make sure you still want to head in that direction.
2. What are my next possible steps? It often helps me to have a grab bag of next possible steps ready to pick from. Sometimes I feel like writing. Other times I’m in a mode where I can put on some music and do some of the mindless organization activities that need to be done. Still other times I’m in a space where my activity is best directed at reaching out to people and connecting. Having options (assuming there isn’t one mission-critical next step that needs to be done) increases the likelihood that I will actually stay productive.
3. What step do I need to take next? Once you know what your options are, ask yourself what step you need to take next. What next step is going to give me the biggest bang for my buck? What step is creating a bottleneck? What step needs to be taken before anything else? Or sometimes just: What step sounds like the most fun?
4. What is preventing me from taking that step? Occasionally, what keeps us from moving forward with our next steps is something that’s getting in our way. If you find yourself balking on taking a step, this is a great question to pull out. Is it because you don’t know how to take it? Is it because you don’t have the resources to do it? Is it because you’re afraid to take it? The more clarity you have about what’s getting in your way, the more potential you have to get past it.