You have gotten quite good at what you do, and have had some successes, every performance (or challenge) leads you through these five stages. These stages occur whether or not you are aware of them, and whether or not you believe in them.
The good thing about science is that it is true, whether or not you believe in it. — Neil deGrasse Tyson
Stage 1: Goal Setting
As a human, you have goals; we all do. Setting goals is a central part of the basic human experience. Your goals may have started as a simple desire to accomplish something, but as you mature, and those goals merge with your aspirations of quality, your thoroughness and accuracy in setting focused goals has become more important to you. And as you have gotten better at setting goals, your objectives have become more effective for you.
If you have strong overall goals, then as you approach every challenge or performance, you will almost automatically form a set of specific objectives for that event.
If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. — Lawrence J. Peter, “The Peter Principle”
It is possible to achieve your goals even if you have no idea how to accomplish them at the beginning. When we as a nation set a goal to go to the moon, we really didn’t know how to do it. Once you have a clear set of goals, your brain automatically looks for ways to make it happen. You literally start to see your world differently because of your goals and objectives.
Stage 2: Preparation
This is the “grunt work” stage where you practice, train, get experience, do research, and learn as much as you can. In this stage, you acquire the skills, qualities, and resources you need to accomplish your goals.
It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. — John Wooden, Coach
This is also the stage where you will eventually realize that you alone are 100% responsible for what you learn, and that you are the primary trainer in your life.
Stage 3: Integration
During this stage your brain automatically indexes, connects, and integrates all of your knowledge, skills, and goals. Your brain creates images, both visual and sensual, of what successfully achieving your objectives will be like.
You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. — Mark Twain, Author
Much of the work at this stage is done by the brain below the conscious level, while you go for a walk, swim, or chat with a friend. However, it is also at this stage where you can review your affirmations and actively use your imagination to see and feel the experience from beginning to end, accomplishing every objective. This is how you gain valuable “experience” even before you actually step into an experience.
Stage 4: Execution
Just do it! While meeting your challenge or performing your material, be totally in the moment; aware of everything and yet totally focused on the task at hand. When you lose that focus or you try to observe yourself doing the task, the energy of the challenge turns inward and can be crushing.
I don’t get nervous. I think nerves are a waste of time. It’s insecurity, kind of an excuse. — Sir Anthony Hopkins, Actor
You want to be able to keep your focus during critical moments. Center yourself and focus on YOUR job; on the essence that is YOUR passion about your work. Stay in the moment. Avoid evaluating or analyzing your performance until after your performance is completely finished.
Stage 5: Evaluation
After the performance has completely finished, review each of your top four or five objectives for that challenge and rate your achievement with a percentage. You can also ask evaluation questions of key people (not everyone). Tell them about an objective then ask how well you did with it.
Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another. — John Dewey, Philosopher, Psychologist
Use your evaluation information to refine your objectives for your next performance, and sometimes to refocus some of your overall goals. These Five Stages are a recursive process, meaning that after the last stage, you always go back to the first stage.
Which of these stages currently work best for you or that you are most aware of? Are there other important stages that are not already listed?