Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved the task of identifying a problem, finding a solution, and then, through trial and error, improving upon that result. It’s why I pursued a degree in engineering when I came to the United States, and why so much of my work today is centered on designing and developing new healthy-living offerings.
As Life Time has grown over the last three decades, so has the number of opportunities — and the challenge of solving problems in every area of our business. One such endeavor we undertook a few years ago was aligning our wide-ranging teams around a single vision and key objectives, and then making it easier for them to do the same within their own departments.
So we created “How to Get Things Done,” a multi-step planning process that outlines an initiative with strategies and measurable tactics so leaders and their teams can, in fact, get it done. It has changed how we plan and has been integral in the success of countless projects.
It’s similar to the “How to Move Forward” approach that I use for my personal ambitions. I recommend this method to others when they wish to follow a more purpose-driven path:
Step 1: Pinpoint your purpose. What makes you happy in life? What would you do for free if money weren’t a factor? Is there work you do, no matter how challenging, that feels almost effortless and rewarding? You’ll know deep down that you’re chasing your passion when work doesn’t feel like work and when you’re excited to keep going in the face of setbacks.
This will look different for everyone, but you’ll know when it’s right for you. Spend some time considering what you want to achieve and why; write it down and use these reflections to help guide and inspire you when you begin to doubt yourself or your abilities.
Step 2: Get SMART. Once you’ve identified a passion area, set goals that will help you achieve it and that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. This popular goal-setting approach forces you to be realistic about what it will take to achieve your ambition. It helps you iterate along the way, and it serves as a gauge of your progress so you can analyze how far you’ve come — and how far you still have to go.
Step 3: Embrace self-learning. When you’re clear about what you don’t know (via the data gathered in step 2), you can find mentors, resources, and tools to help you learn. This is all about the relentless pursuit of personal development and growth, as well as skill and knowledge building. If something’s not working, this is your chance to fix it.
Step 4: Never give up. We all know that change doesn’t happen overnight, and yet so often when we don’t see immediate results, we give up. Physical fitness is a prime example of this.
The reality is that sustainable change takes time, hard work, consistency, and persistence, so pace yourself so you can keep at it. When you feel tired, slow down; when you feel energized, speed up. Notice where you are mentally and emotionally, and use feedback to help you adjust your actions so they’re less draining and more empowering.
Step 5: Believe in yourself. “You’re better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.” I often come back to these words from my friend and colleague Ken Chlouber, founder of the Leadville Race Series, because I love how they speak to the great capacity within each and every one of us. No matter our goals, we all have the potential to do and achieve great things when we set our minds to it.
As you move through this process, there will be moments when you’ll want to quit. To overcome that urge, take time each day to reflect on what is going right and to express your gratitude for all you’ve learned. Say thank you as often as you can to anyone who offers a hand.
The key is to keep your mind and soul positive. You’ll move forward, toward that more purposeful experience. Planning with your head and executing with your heart will help you get there.