Create clearly defined outcomes

Imagine that you’re driving from Philadelphia to the west coast to visit your friend Fred.


Before you depart, you call Fred and ask for his address. Fred replies, “California.” So, you type “California” into your GPS and begin driving.


When you arrive in California, your GPS says aloud, “Destination reached.” Lacking any additional information, you begin to knock on every front door in California. You ask, “Does Fred live here?” House after house, your inquiry is met with a terse, “No.”


You spend your entire life knocking on doors in California, but you never find Fred. At eighty years old, you die alone on a stranger’s porch.


Now imagine a slightly different scenario. Before you depart, you call Fred and ask for his address. This time, Fred replies, “Los Angeles, California.” So, you type “Los Angeles, California” into your GPS and start driving.


When you arrive in Los Angeles, you go through the same routine of knocking on doors. You spend fifty years looking for Fred in Los Angeles, until one day you knock on a door and Fred answers. You barely recognize his old, tired face. “I thought you’d never make it,” he says, leaning on his cane.


Now imagine a similar scenario, but this time Fred says, “I live on Sampson Street in Los Angeles, California.” When you arrive at Sampson Street, you walk from one end of the street to the other. You only have to knock on doors for a few weeks before you find Fred’s house.


Finally, consider this last scenario: before you depart, Fred says, “I live at 1448 W. Sampson Street, Apartment B3, in Los Angeles, California.” From Philadelphia to Fred’s driveway, you arrive in forty hours flat.

With unclear goals and objectives, you can never finish anything… because you have not defined what “finished” is. On the other hand, clearly defined outcomes — like 1448 W. Sampson Street, Apartment B3, Los Angeles, California — allow you to maximize your time and move mountains without breaking a sweat.

Invest a few moments to create a clearly defined outcome before you embark on a new task or project. Describe success in detail: what it looks, smells, tastes, sounds, and feels like. Visualize the desired outcome in your mind’s eye. Make the definition concrete. Eliminate any parts that are ambiguous or fuzzy. Only then, get in the car and start driving.