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Starting / Setting business goals

Big Picture Thinking – friend or foe?

Many experts tell you that the best way to achieve a goal is by using big picture thinking - to imagine how life looks and feels once you’ve reached it.

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Indeed when my best friend asked how to go about becoming a marriage guidance counsellor, I waxed lyrical about the benefits of having a vision. How happy I was to have an opportunity to extensively quote myself from the pages of Flying Solo.

“Don’t worry how you’ll get there.” I tell her “Instead, think how you’ll feel when you end up where you want to be. Then your vision will draw you in the direction you need to go.”

Shortly after dispensing this invaluable advice, Faye admits to not finding it very useful. Imagine!

She tells me that when she tries to picture how she’ll feel, her mind instantly, and disobediently, starts sweating the small stuff.

“What if I drop out of the course?”
“Even if I get qualified, does the world need another marriage guidance counsellor?”
“What about my kids, who’ll look after them when I need to study?”

"Shortly after dispensing this invaluable advice, Faye admits to not finding it very useful. Imagine!"

These aren’t insignificant concerns, but they are surmountable. And they’re hardly “glass half full” thinking. With mental barriers like these in place, it’s little wonder she dare not imagine a big goal.

Want more articles like this? Check out the setting business goals section.

But in spite of this, and to her great credit, she has found a way to move forwards: she has decided to take a small step towards her goal (i.e. sign up for the course), with no expectation of any end result, and a “Let’s see where this leads me” attitude.

This blinkers on approach is the total opposite of big picture thinking advocated by business experts over the years. But is it any less effective, I wonder?

The trick, I guess, is to find what works for you. Perhaps you, too, have struggled with big picture thinking. Or do you have another example of an approach that contradicts conventional business wisdom but has worked a treat for you?

Sam Leader

is a former director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

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