Monday, August 8, 2011

Using Getting Things Done to Find Your Purpose

I like Getting Things Done because it attempts to wrap everything in your work together into one cohesive whole. It does this by providing a model called the "6 Level Model for Reviewing Your Work". It provides purposes for different aspects of your work ranging from the next actions in a project through to your life's purpose.

I am constantly amazed at how much is written about developing a purpose, vision, goals and objectives. So much so, that I am going to add my two cents to the discussion for anyone that wants another perspective on how to achieve this. In what follows, I promise to be short and to the point.


First, your life's purpose can be just a combination of your personal values applied to the roles you already have. I say "can be" because there are lots of different ways to determine your life's purpose. I don't view myself as too imaginative so I stuck with my values and applied them to my roles. Now I know how I think I should be fulfilling those roles and what values I should apply to them.

Second, your vision is where you want to go or what you want to achieve in order to fulfill your purpose. Liberally apply your values to your vision so that you retain alignment between your purpose and your vision. Stretch a little as you don't want to short change yourself. I say a little because you want your vision to be achievable on some level.

Third, your goals and objectives are derived from your vision. Basically, identify the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Your goals live in this gap and your objectives are the things you need to do to achieve your goals.

Fourth, goals sometimes spawn areas of focus and responsibility but you might also know what these are independently of your goals. A goal that is achieved in the sense that you accomplished it but want to retain some level of focus on it probably belongs in your areas of focus and responsibility. Some responsibilities are self-evident.

Fifth, objectives generate projects. A project is anything that requires two or more actions to accomplish. Since we are aligning our goals and objectives with our vision these projects ought to have a couple of actions associated with them.

Sixth, projects generate next actions. Your next actions are what you need to do to move the project forward.

Since nothing in life is forever, you should expect your purpose, vision, goals and objectives, areas of responsibility, projects and next actions to change. If you've figured things out correctly then your purpose should change the least and you should expect the amount of change to increase as you move though the list towards your next actions. Since change is inevitable you need to ensure that all levels reflect what is current.

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