Thursday, January 17, 2013

Don't Get Lost

In my last post about creating and achieving goals, I mentioned you can't get to where you are going without a roadmap.  After seeing this post from Letters to a Young Librarian with an outline on establishing good work relationships, I am now convinced that you can create an outline for everything. "Outlines?" you say, "what can you possibly tell me about creating an outline that I don't already know!" Indulge me for a few paragraphs and I may be able to tell you why the outlines you are already creating are so important and, if you aren't using them, why you should be.

When we write our thoughts down on paper, we are forced to flesh those ideas out.  The things we contemplate don't always translate well from brain to mouth or brain to hand.  After giving my first demonstration on how to download eBooks, I quickly learned the importance of an outline when I inadvertently skipped a very important step for the first time user - downloading the software.  By the time I realized my mistake, the entire demonstration was thrown off kilter.

Writing an outline helps with the correct placement of ideas and concepts.  By writing down each point I wanted to cover in the demonstration, I could easily organize each point into a presentation that ebbed and flowed smoothly.

Outlining is a process we are taught in grade school to help us write term papers.  Like our papers, achieving goals is the end product and a basic outline helps us to organize thoughts in sequential order.  The beauty of the outline is that it isn't permanent. The paper, training, or goal is permanent but the outline is flexible - meant to be worked, reworked, and altered to fit your needs.

If you have a goal to be Somebody, writing down everything that's needed will give you the road map to becoming that person.  If anything, it may give you insight as to whether or not it's the right path for you. If you decide that the road looks a little boring or difficult and does not fit your personal preference, you have to option to rewrite your goal and create a new path.

In school we are taught the traditional outline:

A. Here's A Thought
     1. This one supports thought A
          a.  Detail
          b.  Detail
          c.  Detail
B. Thought B
     1.  This one supports thought B
          a.  Detail
          b.  Detail
          c.  Detail

And so it continues until you have completed all your thoughts and arranged them in a logical order. But life doesn't necessarily work in a logical order.  We are forced to do things out of sequence due to life happening every day.  Therefore, when I suggest creating an outline, there's no need for an A-Z approach.  Most of my outlines look more like To-Do Lists or 4-Square (if I have more than one goal to accomplish.)

Get creative with your outlines and let them lead you down the right path.

But you don't have to take my word for it.  Make an outline for yourself and let me know if it helps!

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