Updated: Sep 2, 2022
IDEAL is an acronym for five human characteristics that comprise the most natural process to our development and the achievement of our goals.
IDEAL is: intend > direct > engage > assess > learn.
As we express the characteristics of IDEAL, we develop into the people we are and wish to become. We do not choose to or not to express IDEAL. That is, the characteristics of IDEAL are part of what makes us human. Although we cannot choose whether or not IDEAL works in our lives, we can choose to be mindful of the five characteristics and apply them deliberately, as a process. Only when IDEAL is engaged deliberately can we benefit from this natural course to our development and progress toward our goals.
Know the Fundamentals of Improvement
The first step toward improvement of your life and business is to be aware of IDEAL. Each aspect of IDEAL interrelates and forms an ongoing cycle, a continuous process that creates opportunities for us to discover, improve, build on our knowledge, and eventually succeed.
Next: since it is unreasonable to expect improvement without change, it is important to know what and how to change. IDEAL becomes a cyclical process as we learn. As IDEAL works in your life or business, look for areas of deficiency, as well as that which is working correctly or effectively to advance you toward your goal.
Thirdly, as mentioned, apply IDEAL deliberately. IDEAL is already, naturally, at work. Put it to use consciously, as a process. Think about how you express the characteristics of IDEAL in your improvement efforts. When we become aware of IDEAL as a cyclical process, we can optimize its function to support our development and success. In order to build your awareness of IDEAL, be mindful of: (1) your intentions; (2) your choices; (3) the results of your actions; (4) how you assess your progress; (5) how and what you learn, and what you do with what you’ve learned.
Triumph Over Challenges
Difficulties to develop ourselves and achieve our goals often stem from neglect or other deficiencies of IDEAL in our lives and businesses. That is, challenges can arise through issues with what we intend, our decisions, how we engage our pursuits, and with the quality of our assessments or ability to learn. The primary causes many challenges are due to an imbalance or inconsistency in one or more areas of IDEAL. Examples include: lack of planning or over-planning; procrastination to act or unstructured action; no change or arbitrary change; lack of preparation, direction, and sufficient assessment.
The issues caused by imbalance and inconsistency undermine IDEAL as a process. You cannot disregard or neglect aspects of a process and expect for the process to serve its purpose. The characteristics of IDEAL are connected: Intend leads to Direct, which determines the Engage aspect. Assess confirms the effectiveness of how Intend, Direct, and Engage relate. Through Assess, Learn allows us to refine IDEAL, and achieve the improvements that we seek.
Use IDEAL as a Model
You know that IDEAL is a natural process comprised of five human characteristics. In order to improve your life or business with IDEAL, consider IDEAL as a model by which to create a plan for success of your goal. We all have goals; face yours with IDEAL.
The aspects of IDEAL, in proper order, provide a perfect framework for you to think-through a plan, prepare, and launch into action toward your endeavor. Your use of IDEAL as a model will require you to:
Be clear about what you intend to accomplish. Identify what results must be achieved in order for you to make progress toward your aim;
choose a course that will connect you with your goal. Understand the steps and the objectives of your course, so that you'll be able to assess your progress;
prepare and engage according to your course. Know the activities, and results from those activities, that are required in order for you to maintain on-track progress;
assess your efforts in order to know what supports, and does not support, your endeavor. Determine how you will measure and verify results – the progress that you need in order to succeed;
learn from decisions about and revisions to your plan and activity. Change as you discover how to improve, or know that you cannot continue without a change.
The effectiveness of IDEAL as a model is dependent upon your ability to be productive. Since productivity is the most misunderstood requirement for success, be sure that you’re clear about what productivity will require from you.
(The full version of this section is available in my article, “The Four P’s of Productivity,” available on my blog, at StevenRobertYoung.com)
You have a goal, which is to improve yourself or your business. The most important factor that will determine your success is your ability to be productive. Productivity is not some generic or arbitrary level of busyness; productivity is determined by specifics related to your goal. Therefore, understand what constitutes productivity in your situation.
At base, productivity is:
(1) a specific level of accomplishment that is required by a specific goal;
(2) a measurable or verifiable result from activity applied to attain a goal;
(3) condition-dependent. This means that productivity is not merely based on activity, but is also dependent upon all factors necessary in order to make your achievement possible.
With these points in mind, your best effort to be productive involves having a plan for success. Your plan should clarify: your aim; how to prepare; the activities and results required by your pursuit; and how you will determine your productivity status and progress.
These areas—project, prepare, produce, progress—are critically important to your being productive. In fact, they represent the cornerstones of productivity. Let’s consider each in turn.
Project is where you imagine how—by what means—you will achieve your goal. Project is the course you create between where you are now and where you’ll be once you’ve reached your goal. What you project as your course may differ as you learn how to improve your effort to succeed. At minimum, the course you project should provide a complete conception of how to:
(a) bridge a gap between where you are today and where you want to be – the point at which you’ve achieved your goal;
(b) most productively cross that bridge;
(c) account for potential threats;
(d) measure productivity; and
(e) coordinate everything involved to achieve an aim
A plan should identify the requirements, agents, and safeguards (known as RAS considerations) essential to your being productive.
As a dynamic document (always subject to improvement) and guide that promotes optimal achievement, a plan also serves as a record of your thought-process and decisions, which can be a valuable reference resource.
Preparation is not an attitude or an emotion; preparation is a response to your plan, and accounts for all aspects—mental, material, spatial, etc.—related to your being productive. According to your plan, preparation is the work to complete a checklist of tasks that, as accomplished, will auspiciously equip you to make meaningful progress.
Most goals fail for lack of proper preparation. The lack of preparation is an unnecessary pitfall to success. In order to safeguard and optimize chances for the success of your endeavor, prepare properly – according to all of the needs of your plan.
A major challenge to productivity is not one’s lack of preparedness to work, but, rather, one's lack of preparedness for why one won’t work. Your preparation to succeed should include safeguards against why you could fail (your “why-not”), not merely safeguards that protect and support your progress.
Prepare according to the needs of your plan. Preparation can involve anything related—directly and indirectly—to your efforts to be productive, which can include strategies, motivation, schedules, use of apps, and the development of your knowledge and skills.
Once you have planned and prepared, it’s time to realize what you intend; it’s time to produce, otherwise your potential and hopes will remain unrealized. Produce is the third of four cornerstones that define productivity. When you step-up to produce, you put your knowledge, skills, and how you’ve prepared to the test with action.
The pursuit of goals and visions contributes to making life meaningful. A goal is always produced with reason, for some purpose that we determine, because the success of goals requires intention. We also endeavor to produce goals in order to fulfill needs and responsibilities, which is part of living well.
The produce aspect of productivity should be engaged with confidence that certain actions will yield specific results. Without such confidence, the point of your pursuit can only be to discover what is and is not useful to your ability to progress and achieve.
In terms of your goal, progress must align with the requirements for your being productive. As you pursue a goal and learn how to improve your productivity, change in your planning, preparation, and pursuit may becomes necessary. Failure to recognize your limitation—of knowledge, ability, etc.—and change is a failing that will compromise your ability to succeed.
Progress is essential to our personal and professional development, how we become our “best” selves, and achieve our greater potential. Progress makes life richer, and can lead us to wisdom and peace. It is through our discoveries and applying the lessons learned—throughout life—that we achieve our successes and build a meaningful life.
Progress does not necessarily mean improvement or growth. Progress, sometimes, involves learning that the road we’re on has led us to a dead-end, then looking for a new course.
As we work toward our goals, we will believe in the merit of our judgments and subsequent decisions. Be careful here. As we continue to progress, we will better be able to see and accept our mistakes. Our ability to recognize and allow mistakes can create opportunities for further development and successes.
Progress is the effort to work through the maze, as it were, discover, adjust, and continually fare forward. Accept impasses, trials, and difficulties as tests of your beliefs and sincerity to achieve, or the forging of these. Allow yourself to make mistakes, learn, and advance from where you are at any given point. After all, this is the natural process of life, development, and for success.
All the best for continued success!
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