Note: This is the second post in a five-part series designed to help you CRAFT a life you love. The first is about getting clear on your dreams.
Each Wednesday during the summer months the Arctic Orienteering Club sets up orienteering courses at a different location around Anchorage. They place “controls” on the trails and in the woods for participants to find using map and compass skills. The difficulty ranges from easy enough so families with small children can walk along the trails from control to control to very difficult requring a combination of a taking a compass bearing, counting your paces, and reading terrain features.
The goal is find each of the controls (shown below), punch your scorecard, and return to the start as quickly as possible. The easier courses might take 30 minutes whereas the longer course can take several hours.
I love orienteering and I’m kind of a geek about it. Sometimes I’m even the top female finisher. Not because I’m all that fast (my time can often be an hour or more slower than the top male finishers) but because I’m the only woman doing the most difficult course.
I have a friend as competitive as I am (I know, hard to believe…) and when we meet at the start, we barely exchange hello’s before registering, dousing ourselves with bug repellent and tossing our car keys into a communal bucket (one of the ways the club ensures everyone has returned at the end of the night). At our assigned start time, we’re handed a map and we make a plan for navigating to the first control. Here’s a map from a few weeks ago:
The pink circles are the controls. The grid indicates a terrain feature and the control’s number to ensure you’ve found the correct one.
After my Dad died, I knew I didn’t want to waste a moment of my wild and precious life. This, plus the daily reminder I get while flying a medevac helicopter that we never know when our life might end, makes me passionate about helping people achieve their dreams and accomplish the things they’ve been putting off for “someday”.
Often people feel stuck and unable to take action for a variety of reasons. This is why I developed the C.R.A.F.T method (Clarity, the 3 R’s: Resources, Roadmap and Routines, Action & Accountability, Focus, and Tuning, the steps needed to accomplish your dreams).
Knowing where you have a tendency to lose momentum will help you overcome obstacles, move through your fears, and take action to create a life you love. Everyone gets stuck for different reasons, but using the CRAFT method to think through the differnt steps will allow you to plan for these pitfalls and help you navigate your way through or around them.
Disorganization is often the first stumbling block. (If this is your challenge, subscribe my six part email series, Ditch the Overwhelm) Clearing clutter and freeing up mental and physical “white space” allows you to move from surviving to thriving. Once you’ve moved out of overwhelm you are able to go from being reactive to proactive.
Orienteering is a perfect metaphor for the 3 Rs in CRAFT. Once you have Clarity (the first step), you can focus on gathering resources, creating a roadmap and developing a routine.
The 3 R’s: Gather Resources, Create a Roadmap and Develop a Routine
The first R of the 3 R’s of CRAFT is gathering resources.
You’ll need a variety of resources to help you along your journey to reaching your goals. These will include both external and internal resources.
These are the things outside of yourself that you’ll need to achieve your dreams. For now, don’t worry about how you’ll get these resources, just create a list of what you’ll need.
- People: Who has experience in this area? Who can support you?
- Products/Objects: What physical items will you need?
- Finances: What financial resources, if any, will you need?
- Information/Knowledge: What information do you need? What must you learn?
- Organization: What do you need to set up to have the time and energy to pursue your goal?
You’ll also need internal resources to complete your dreams. Thinking about how you’ll handle difficulties prior to encountering it will help you have a plan in place to overcome the challenges. Visualize yourself reacting effectively when you’re struggling.
- Mental Toughness: What are you going to do when it feels too difficult? What are you going to say to yourself when you are discouraged? How are you going to know when it is time to ask for help?
- Willpower: How can you structure your day to best utilize your willpower?
- Fear: What are you most afraid of happening? How does fear stop you? What helps ease the fear?
- Procrastination:Why do you procrastinate? How will you know when you are procrastinating? Setting a time frame can help you detect the difference between useful pondering and stuck in the mire ruminating about something.
Once you’ve created a list of resources, then create your roadmap.
Create a Roadmap
When we travel through the woods from one orienteering control to another, we’re usually crossing terrain we’ve never seen before. We don’t know everything we’ll see along the way. Using the map, we pick out major features along the route. It might be a hill, a trail intersection, or a marshy area. These features help us assess how far we’ve come and help ensure we’re on the right track.
More than once someone has asked me if they should learn to fly airplanes before they learn to fly helicopters. I always recommend taking the most direct route: if you want to fly helicopters, start flying helicopters. Don’t plan to take a circuitous route. Take the most direct path to your dreams. Later, if the direct route isn’t possible, you can find another way.
Backwards planning can help determine your waypoints or intermediate steps. What would need to be accomplished right before you accomplish your dream? And prior to that? Keep working backwards to create a list of major waypoints. Breaking these into smaller and smaller steps or actions will help your big goal feel manageable and doable.
Think of your dreams like an epic journey. Have fun with them. The more you can make your pursuing dreams into an adventure-filled game, the more your self-worth and identity will be separated from the outcome.
Now that you have resources and a roadmap, it’s time to develop a routine.
Routines are powerful and make things easier. Creating a routine will help preserve your willpower because you won’t need to think about what to do next. Repeating a routine over and over will make it a habit.
A routine is essentially a checklist of steps. In the helicopter, there is a checklist for many different phases of flight (start-up, pre-takeoff, pre-landing, shut down). I have most of the checklists are memorized but I still verify the steps after I complete them to ensure I haven’t missed any.
The best place to create a routine is in areas where you feel overwhelmed and areas where you’d like to create a new habit or break a bad habit. The routine will help move you through your daily tasks more efficiently so you have more mental energy to take action on your dreams. You can also create a routine around your dream itself. What daily actions would move you closer to your dream?
Write down the steps. Be explicit. What will happen first? Next? After that? Then implement your routine. It won’t be perfect. You’ll need to adjust it to make it work for you. Routines need periodic refinement to be efficient and effective.
Here’s our orienteering routine: look at the map and make a plan, take a compass bearing, run as much as possible to the first major waypoint, check the course, adjust as needed. We modify as needed. Like the time a mama moose was standing alongside her day-old, wobbly legged baby ten feet from the control. Improvisation was required. It involved me telling the mama about how much, “I like your baby” while we walked slowly to the control. Only after we finished did we learn some people skipped the stopping at the control once they saw the moose. (Did I mention I was competitive?)
Dripping with sweat, marked with scratches, and sprinkled with leaf-debris, we sprint to the finish, elated. We high-five, gulp water and try to restore our blood sugar with the “finisher muffins”. Though my friend and I are often the slowest team on the most difficult course, there’s no way we’re stepping down to an easier course. No one celebrates easy. The most rewarding things are often the most difficult. That’s true of your dreams and true of CRAFTing a life you love.
What are your big dreams? What helps you stay on course? Share in the comments.