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Visual Chain Thinking

Wouldn’t you prefer a life of productivity rather than a life of endless tasks with little
accomplishment? Of course! When you carefully set your goals and keep them at the
forefront of you mind, you can work smarter instead of working longer. You’ll know
that a life worth living comes from a life of balance.

In order to maintain that balance, here’s a key technique that you can use in your life
to help keep you on the right track. This technique is called “visual chain thinking.”

Ambitions people know that each step toward their goals is not a singular step. Each
discipline is not a singular discipline. Each project is not a singular project. Each sale
is not a singular sale.
They see everything they do–and every discipline they adhere to–as a
link in the chain of events and actions that will lead them to their final
destination.
Every action and every discipline achieved today is a link in the chain. Every action
and every discipline achieved tomorrow is a link. And every action and every
discipline achieved in the more distant future is also a link.

Your direction, activities, and disciplines all make up crucial links in your chain of
success. When you can see that one thing affects everything else, when you come to
realize that every discipline affects every discipline, when you look at your future as a
chain that needs strong links all along the way… then you’ll build a reservoir of
strength and courage that will serve you well during the down times.

When you can see that every link in the chain will eventually lead you to the things
you want most out of life and to the person you want to become, then you won’t grow
discouraged, fearful, or impatient with today. When you can see where you’re going
through visual chain thinking, even on the toughest days, you’ll keep moving toward
your goals because you know where you’re going.

Building your visual chain of thought begins when you have well-defined
plans for your career, your family activities, your investments, and your
health. Your plans and goals are your visual chain. You know where
you’re going before you get there.

It’s ironic how we all understand the importance of mapping out a strategy for a
football game or a basketball game. Not one professional team in the world begins a
game without a game plan. But few of us take the time to map out such a strategy for
our lives.

But it’s important to make this sort of plan. Here’s the first rule for your game plan of
life: don’t begin the activities of your day until you know exactly what you
plan to accomplish. Don’t start your day until you have it planned. And do this
every day. I (Jim Rohn) know all this writing takes time and a disciplined effort.
Remember, however, that reaching your goals is the fruitful result of discipline, not
merely hope.
Once you’ve mastered the art of planning your day, you’re ready for the next
level. Don’t begin the activities of your week until you know exactly what
you plan to accomplish. Don’t start your week until you have it planned.

Just imagine what life would be like if you took time out every Sunday to plan your
week. Come Friday, you wouldn’t be saying, “Boy, did this week fly by. Where did it
go? What did I do?” No, if you plan your week before you start it, you’ll know exactly
what you want to do, what you want to accomplish, and what you need to work on. If
you learn to plan your days as part of your overall game plan for the week, the parts
will fit much better. Your days will be better. You will be more effective. You’ll be
working smarter, not harder.

And when you’ve learned to plan your week, guess what! You’ve got to plan your
month! Don’t start your month until you’ve mapped out your game plan.
By developing and following your game plan, your days, weeks, and months all
become part of a larger plan, a bigger design you develop, a long-term view of your
life, a visual chain. You’ll start gaining a greater perspective of it all… because you
are planning.

If visually seeing your future is new to you, if you’ve never developed a game plan
before, let me offer a few tips. There are two things you need to understand before
you create a game plan.

Number one: a game plan, a visual chain of your future, is like a spread sheet.
Instead of listing numbers, you list activities. It’s like a “to do” list. And number two:
The technique of developing a game plan can be used for a single day, a single
project, or a variety of projects that are happening simultaneously.

Here’s how you do it. First of all, you need to buy a pad of graph paper. Game
plans work best on graph paper. Take a sheet of graph paper and make vertical
columns corresponding to the number of days this plan is to cover. Then on the left-
hand side of the paper, write the heading “activities.” Under this heading, listing all
the activities to be accomplished within your time frame.

Let’s say, for example, that you’ve got one week to finalize a marketing plan. It’s an
overwhelming amount of work to complete, but it’s got to be done. So break it down
piece by piece. The best way to start is by listing all of the individual components on
the left-hand side of the page. Some of these things will need to be completed before
others can be started. You need to obtain your market-research results before you
can determine your target market. You need to know your target market before you
can develop your marketing strategy. You need to have your marketing strategy
before you can create a budget for collateral materials, and so on.

When you break down the project piece by piece and deadline by deadline,
you can be more effective in putting together the appropriate parts of the puzzle–and
in doing your own work while delegating the rest.
The final result of developing your game plan is a clear visual presentation of
the tasks before you. This method is used quite often in business to coordinate
and develop projects of any length. It’s the only way to see the entire project on paper
and manage its progress.

Admittedly, game plans are frustrating to create. They’re frustrating because it’s
difficult to completely prioritize your life and all your projects. You may go through
several sheets of graph paper before you produce the perfect format. But as soon as
you develop your first one, you’ll see the value in this discipline.

Keep your game plan in plain sight. Put it up in your office where you can easily look
at it. Have a copy of it at home and tape it to the refrigerator. Keep a copy in your
journal for quick reference. Your game plan will serve as a constant reminder of all
you need to do to get to where you want to go.

If you’re doing all you’re scheduled to do, game plans are very rewarding. Day by
day… week by week… month by month, you’ll see the magic of your dreams and plans
turning into reality. You will have an incredible feeling of being in charge of your life,
your surroundings, and your future. It’s like creating a work of art on the biggest
canvas imaginable. It’s creative. It’s beautiful.

This is powerful stuff. To dream a dream, plan for the dream, and then
watch your dream turn into reality. Here’s what’s really powerful about
creating game plans: you can see your future right before your eyes.

So on those days when your energy isn’t up to par, your enthusiasm is a little low,
your ambition isn’t pushing you forward, and your attitude isn’t on the positive side,
use your game plan to see how far you’ve come. Take the time to visualize exactly
where you’re headed. On those days, it’s your discipline and visual chain of the future
that will push you ahead. People and circumstances may try to set you back, but your
visual chain will propel you toward your goals.