Backwards From The Future

Goal Setting and Goal Getting


We assume that your intention is to be exposed to a variety of ideas, some of which you feel will help you make more money or feel better about yourself and/or your business.

The information in this one article can change your life – but only if you have the commitment and intestinal fortitude to change habits of a lifetime. You see, this article is about how to get things done, done right – every time, and done efficiently. From the minority of insurance agents who read this as businessmen will evolve an even smaller number for whom these ideas will “click”. If you are one of those businessmen, congratulations. Call us and we will help you implement these ideas for you and your business. For our other readers, “read on.” This information will be interesting and entertaining. And the people in your industry that you look to as grand successes will be found to be following these concepts.


In his book “The Path of Least Resistance”, Robert Fritz says that the most powerful of all organizing principals is the future vision of a clear goal to which you and others are committed.

In all of our consultations, Strategic Planning Sessions, and TQM (Total Quality Management) and Team Building Seminars, we key in on the desired result and work backwards to determine the best way of achieving it. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Those who are not experienced going through this organization process, however, find it excruciating work. What’s the pay off for this hard work? Well, we’ve found that you actually guarantee the results when you exercise the process properly, to its logical conclusion.

The Process

1. Set on paper the desired result in detail.

“Growing larger” or “Becoming more profitable” is no more detailed a goal than “Taking a vacation”. “Growing from one million revenue to two million revenue within five years while maintaining or growing profit margins each year” is a specific target.

2. Working backwards, list all steps that have to be accomplished in order to achieve the goal. Again, the more detailed you are, the more likely the result.

If your target is to “Enjoy a two week vacation to Hawaii in Mid-December” your list would look like this:

A. Locate and schedule events or free time for the two week period

B. Identify and reserve rooms

C. Identify and reserve flights and cars

D. Develop a checklist of items to be taken for organized purchase and packing.

E. Make sure job and projects are completed or covered by others at work

F. Reserve dates for vacation

Add to the list as you develop other activities that require completion and place them in the appropriate order of events.

3. When your list is complete, reorganize it, identifying segments that can be done concurrently and segments that must be done sequentially. Sequential items that are “dependent activities”, those that depend on the completion of another in order to accomplish that segment. Concurrent activities are those that can be conducted simultaneous with other segments of your plan.

4. Once you have established and charted your game plan, including the tasks, concurrent and sequential, identify the time needs or expectation of each segment. For instance, if segment C must be done after segment B and if segment B will take two weeks and segment C will take 3 weeks to accomplish, you can draw a time line encompassing these two sequential segments. The master time line will be continued and will have secondary time lines encompassing the concurrent activities that can be accomplished simultaneous to the major segments in your master time line, thereby shortening the entire time line.

5. When all of this prework is complete you are ready to bring in those people to whom you will delegate subsets and segments of your plan (assuming, of course, that you have people to delegate to or that the project is one that requires others to be completed efficiently). Effective delegation involves granting authority, but maintaining the responsibility yourself, and then monitoring the results (inspect that which you expect).

Delegate to the best people available to carry out the parts of the project. Tell the people what they must do, the time frame in which it must be done, the standard against which their result will be measured and what the entire project will look like upon completion (including the contribution that they will make with their part of the project).

6. Finally, get status reports or conduct status meetings at frequent intervals to permit communications of successes, issues and problems. Never assume that all is progressing as expected.

If you follow these guidelines, you can expect genuine, continuing successes that will permit you to progress your business and personal lives.