Your Road Map to Success

February 16, 2020

Create a Road Map for Success | Best Life Book Club by Happy As Annie discusses Girl, Stop Apoloizing by Rachel Hollis

If you’ve ever navigated your way from point A to point B, then you’re already familiar with the process necessary to get to a desired destination. So how come so many of us throw our planning know-how out the window when it comes to the journey to success?

In Skill #1 of Girl, Stop Apologizing, Rachel Hollis walks us through how to work backwards from our desired destination, or goal, in order to map out our plan for achieving success. Are you ready to map out your own unique course? Good, because I have a free worksheet you can download to help you map out your journey!

1. Clearly identify your desired destination.

Rachel’s advice in Girl, Stop Apologizing is to plan backwards. So, you start with the end. What is your desired destination? Be specific.

For Rachel, her destination was to publish a cookbook. Why? Because she wanted to offer her fans a product that commemorated her family recipes.

To use my own past as a further example, I wanted to be a full-time English professor. Why? Because I love to read and write and I wanted to earn a living helping others appreciate the English language and become better communicators.

Since we are planning backwards and beginning at the end, the first thing we do on our road map for success is fill in your final destination. This is the first thing you’ll write down on the free worksheet available for download at the end of this post.

2. Brainstorm what it will take to get there. This will help you come up with your top 3 guideposts.

First, get all your ideas on paper. The more the better!

Once you have your destination in mind, brainstorm how to get there. Like I tell my students when we are brainstorming around an assigned paper topic to come with an essay idea, we are going for quantity and not quality here.

What does this mean? Get out several pieces of paper and jot down any and every idea, task, to-do, question, project, phone call, contact, and anything else you can think of that relates to achieving your goal.

For me and my goal to become a full-time English professor, my brainstorm may have looked, in part, something like this:

  • quit lawyer job
  • save money–how much is grad school?
  • for-profit school online?
  • UC or CSU?
  • admissions requirements
  • application deadline
  • I don’t want to take the GRE-I refuse!
  • should I read up on English lit? Am I well-read enough for grad school?
  • check Facebook for potential grad students to contact
  • I need teaching experience.
  • Can I even teach? What about classroom management?
  • Teach law to get experience?
  • Ask Ani’s brother re legal writing
  • Ask Joe re substitute teaching

Next, locate your three guideposts.

The above list is not complete. It’s just to give you an idea of the randomness of the brain dump. From these dozens and dozens of ideas and questions and possibilities and tasks, we work backwards to pick out the three absolutely non-negotiable things that must happen to get us to our destination.

These are your three guideposts, to borrow Rachel’s language.

Mine, listed backwards from my destination of being a full-time English professor, would be:

(3) Have college teaching experience.

(2) Obtain a Master’s degree in English.

(1) Enroll in a graduate program.

You’ll see a space for each of these guideposts on your free printable worksheet available for download at the end of this post.

How will you know which achievements along the way are non-negotiable guideposts? They are the achievements you can’t skip. In my example, I couldn’t get hired as a full-time faculty member without prior teaching experience. And I couldn’t get hired to teach until I had my MA. And to get my MA, I had to enroll in some kind of graduate program. There was no way around those three guideposts on my journey to becoming a full-time English professor.

3. Brainstorm what it will take to get you to your first guidepost. This will help you come up with your mile markers.

Continuing with my “Become full-time English professor” example, now I had to start working toward that first guidepost, which was to get into a graduate program to get my MA degree. To come up with my plan, I did the same brainstorming I did in the previous step, just on a smaller scale. Now, instead of brainstorming toward reaching my final destination, I was brainstorming more narrowly about how to reach my first guidepost, which was to get into an MA program.

The top two or three tasks here will be the mile markers along the way to that first guide post. You’ll see spots for them on your free printable worksheet.

And before you know it, you’ve gone from some fuzzy fantasy or “what if” day dream to a fleshed out, brilliant plan for success!

4. Rinse and repeat until you reach your destination!

I’m such a planning freak that I would have liked to plan out all the mile markers between each of my guideposts from the outset. While I don’t see anything inherently wrong with that, the truth for me was that I had no idea yet how to get to my later guide posts. I knew I’d learn more about finishing my degree and landing a teaching gig once I was in school and had advisors and mentors and peers with which to consult. So those mile markers remained a mystery at first. I had place holders for them though and I knew I’d fill them out in due time and continue on my journey.

Print out your own Road Map to Success and get planning!

How do you like to plan, and what are your planning hang-ups? Let us know in the comments below.

And, I’d love to see how you’re using this worksheet and be inspired by your road map for success. Share your roadmap with us by tagging @happyasannie and using the #bestlifebookclub tag on Instagram.

Want to keep reading?

If you missed them, check out our previous discussions on Behaviors 4-7 and Behaviors 1-3 from Girl, Stop Apologizing.


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