In order to set goals and dreams and achieve them, you need to know where you’re going, even at a basic level...

Big-picture thinking helps you get things done

In order to set goals and dreams and achieve them, you need to know where you’re going. At the very basic level, the actions we take on a daily basis that bring us closer to our goals and dreams are determined through looking at the big picture and what you most want out of life.

In his ground-breaking, national bestseller, Getting Things Done, David Allen, world renowned personal productivity guru, says that priorities should drive your choices of what actions to take on a daily basis to keep you on the path to achieving your goals.

And those priorities come from hashing out what your work actually is, determined from six different perspectives. Allen uses an altitude analogy to help you determine what your priorities are in life:

  • 50,000+ feet: At this “big-picture” level you look at things like determining your life’s purpose, and the goals and dreams that stem from that purpose.
  • 40,000 feet: This is your three- to five-year vision. At this altitude, you look three to five years in the future and think about long term goals for your family, career, finances, health, personal development etc.
  • 30,000 feet: These are your one- to two-year goals. Goals at this altitude will zero in on what you want to accomplish in all areas of your life and work in one to two years.
  • 20,000 feet: At this altitude, you narrow things down even more by looking at all your areas of responsibility in your personal and work life. This can be broken down into categories such as health, family, finances, home environment, leisure, spirituality on the personal side and work responsibilities. All the projects you undertake, large or small, will come from a clear understanding of these responsibilities.
  • 10,000 feet: At this level are all the personal and work-related short-term projects gleaned from all the goals and dreams created at the various altitudes above. These include things such as weekly meal planning, going to the doctor, organizing a meeting or doing staff evaluations.
  • Runway: This is where the magic happens. This attitude is the whole list of all the current actions you have to take to complete your projects, which in turn, keep you on the path to achieving your goals and dreams. This includes things such as responding to your emails, running personal errands and making necessary phone calls.

To be the most productive, Allen suggests working on these altitudes from the bottom up rather than top-down. The primary reason for working from the bottom up, says Allen: “is that it clears the psychic decks, allowing your creative attention to focus on the more meaningful and elusive visions that you may need to challenge yourself to identify.” It also allows you to be flexible and make course corrections quickly and easily.

For more information on David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” method of stress-free productivity, visit

Where are you in your altitude climb? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

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