In order to make substantive progress in life, you must have a clear picture, sense or description of where you’re going. Without that, your time will be consumed by life’s mini and major emergencies.

Even when you have that plan, things won’t always go that way. Never-the-less, make time to be strategic about your life, career or business.

Here are 7 critical concepts that will help you deal with almost anything.

1. Plan at least once a year
Block out time on your calendar and ask yourself where you want to be five years from now. Identify milestones and required accomplishments along the way. Anticipate potential obstacles you might encounter and figure out NOW how you’ll avoid or deal with them if they arise.

2. Bring  your emotions into play
Emotions create motivation. You’ll need some fuel to help you through the challenges and tedious times too. As you ponder your bright future, write down WHY it’s important for you to get there and how you’ll feel once you do.

3. Think big but plan small
This is like Think globally, but act locally.  Progress is made one step at a time. If your goal is big (and it should be) it might overwhelm you into thinking it’s not possible for you. When you break it down into small chunks, your brain will say “I can do that!”. And it will

4. Put activities on your calendar
If your plan stays in your notebook or pad of paper, it won’t be executable. Do somehthing every day (or at least every week) toward your goals

5. Schedule time for breakdowns during the day
Stuff happens. That won’t be avoidable. So anticipate the phenomenon and block out one-hour block for random acts of ‘stuff’. That way, when they happen, you’ll already have accounted for them and they’ll have less of an impact on your plans for the day.

6. Step into the abyss when it occurs
When something big breaks down (a body requiring an unexpected surgery, for example), you gotta deal with it. The emergency requires your full attention. Do what needs to be done.  If you resist, procrastinate or try to avoid it, it will just get worse.

Ask for help. Do things to take care of yourself. Pray and meditate or just think about the bigger picture. That will help provide perspective. Some emergencies are short lived. Other unforeseen circumstances last for a long time and require a lot of patience. Resist the urge to become a helpless victim. Stay true to your values. Stay true to yourself.

7. Keep your eye on the future
The emergency will pass so while you’re dealing with it, think about how lovely life might be once it’s behind you. Emergencies have a way of helping you prioritize what’s REALLY important. So ‘use’ the time to assess yourself and your goals.

Do these things and you’ll become ever stronger, more capable and effective.

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