As the new year has started, it’s time for us all to begin thinking about what we’d like to achieve over the next twelve months.

In setting out in pursuit of your goals in 2013, it’s likely that you’ll first throw yourself headlong into the incredible adventure ahead, filled as it’s likely to be with its own successes and struggles, monumental triumphs and maybe the odd moment of tragedy, yet—like all adventures—it pays to be prepared.

Without proper planning and preparation, and without packing your all-important survival kit, chances are that you’ll encounter all kinds of hazards and situations which you won’t be able to deal with effectively. With that in mind then, here are four vitally-important tools you should arm yourself with as you set out on an adventure in pursuit of your goals.

1. A Map

Pretty obvious right? After all, who sets out on an adventure without a map?

In this particular case, the routes plotted on your map won’t be highways and byways drawn by some skilled cartographer. Instead, they’ll chart a course from your present location to that magical destination known as success.

When you create your map, you need to draw up three crucial things:

  • Point A 

Where are you now? What is your life like? What do you hope to change or improve by setting out on this adventure?

  • Points B through X (and any others you may need to stop at) 

These are milestones you’ll need to reach in order to make it to Point Z. Without keeping an eye out for these milestones, how will you know if the pursuit of your goals is on course? Plotting your Points B,C,D and so on will also help keep you motivated: as you pass one milestone after another, you’ll be more determined to keep going.

  • Point Z 

These are your completed goals—the hidden treasure that is the whole purpose of your adventure.

2. Your Compass

Most intrepid adventurers require a compass of some sort. Most often, these tell us which way is north, which is south, which way we should go and which we shouldn’t.

For our pursuit of goals however, we need a different kind of compass. We need one which will tell us which action is right, which action is wrong, what we should do, and what we shouldn’t do.

Like a number of people, I prefer to think of this as a “moral compass”. You may decide to call it a list of values, your own personal Ten Commandments or anything you like. The point is to have a good idea of what is driving you, what values you hold closest, and what you are (or are not) prepared to do to complete your adventure.

Some people write this out as a manifesto, others don’t. Do what works for you, but don’t set out without your compass!

3. Supplies

Only a fool would set out on adventure without taking adequate supplies with them.

The brave explorers who cross deserts, oceans and even deep space may take food, fuel, medical supplies and tents: on our adventure, we’ll need to take anything we feel would help us pursue our goals. Before setting off, take an inventory of what you have at your disposal. Consider things such as:

  • Material possessions
  • Financial assets
  • Books, computer programs, reference materials
  • Friends, family members, or colleagues who could help you

Ask yourself how what you have right now can help you achieve the things that matter the most to you.

It’s also helpful to take an inventory of the things we don’t have, but will need at some point down the line—that way, we can barter, trade and negotiate with all the fellow adventurers we’ll meet along our journey to help each other out.

4. Journal

When the day comes that you’re revered as the most excellent adventurer on the planet, when you’ve reached the summit of your goals and find yourself sitting by an open fire smoking your victory cigar, other people will want to know how you did it. Make sure that you never forget both the highs and lows of your adventure; that you document how you overcame obstacles, discovered things you never thought possible and ultimately achieved your goals, by documenting the process.

Keeping a journal also has another, perhaps even more important, benefit: it allows you to track your progress. Keeping tabs on where you’ve been so far should at best keep you motivated, and at worst, keep you on course. Keep a hard-copy journal or start a blog—do whatever you need to do to make sure you never forget the epic journey you’re about to undertake.

Got all that? In that case, I wish you well, oh brave adventurers, and hope you have a wonderful and successful 2013.

Featured photo credit:  Survival kit on a wooden table via Shutterstock

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