Friday, February 16, 2018

Roadmap: From Goals to Vision

What do you want out of your life? What are you doing to get there? Those are the key questions in defining a roadmap for your life. A roadmap is a sequential set of goals that helps you achieve your vision of the life that you want. Without one, you might still get there, but would take longer, or might not get there at all.

Do we need a roadmap? Not necessarily a fully planned and written one, but at least a general idea so you have a true North that can guide you towards where you want to. Most of the time, we implicitly come up with one without actually calling it that. For example, when you plan your next vacation, that is essentially a roadmap for your vacation -- ensuring that you go where you need to and do the things that you want to do (goals) with the vision of having a relaxing and fun time. Or your grocery list, your career planning, etc, etc. 

In software companies, roadmap is a common thing -- you gotta have one to ensure the software continuously evolves in the right direction. In the roadmap, there are many projects. The projects can be grouped into themes for synergy. And each project may have multiple milestones to convey significant accomplishments, and each milestone has many tasks. Milestone can optionally be on the roadmap for large projects but task doesn't as that is low-level detail. As you can see, software continues to be improved by using a roadmap and so it can be used to continuously improve anything else that we want -- our career or our life.

But do you have a roadmap for your life -- the most important thing that you have? In school / from parents, they would tell you that you need education and then find a career that you like, which is good but only a start. A start without knowing the end would just make you do a bunch of things that may or may not accomplish what you want in life. A colleague of mine cruelly puts it as "it's like a chicken running around with its head cut off." People don't tell you to think about the vision for your life, and then plan the necessary steps to get there -- which does include education & career. Start with thinking about what you want in life -- the vision, and then think about the necessary things that you need to do to get there -- goals. For each goal, such as getting a good job or getting married, there can be multiple milestones, such as career advancements. And finally for each milesone, what are the tasks that you need to do to get there? 

Roadmap is a generic concept that can be applied to anything. It's a process to get from current state to a desired outcome. Apply it to your life, your career, your projects at work, or your next vacation planning, and you will get the desired outcome that you want and therefore be happy. :)

This is part of the Essential Life Skills blog series.

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