An Expert’s Guide on How to Map Out Your Success Through Reverse Engineering

Dr. Ivy Ge reveals her 8-step guide to reaching your goals.

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Getty Images

What if you can foresee the steps it takes to reach your goal? Before shaking your head in disagreement, think about the failures you’ve experienced in the past. When you set out to achieve a new goal, all you see was that glorious moment of triumph beckoning you. You didn’t know how to get there, but you were sure you could figure it out along the way.

Success never goes like that. Planning is the key. Reverse engineering is the way.

The idea of reverse engineering is simple: deconstruct an object to its parts in order to better understand and improve it. To map out your best plan of action, you must start from the endpoint and work backward until you reach the starting point. Think about your goal in 2020 and follow these steps to see how it’s done.

Research the experts.

Simply put, you need to analyze the people who have achieved what you are looking for and identify the steps leading to their success. Go to LinkedIn or Facebook and find these influencers and take notes on their career path. What experience and credentials enabled them to reach the goal you desire? What organizations do they belong to that are crucial for building connections? What work habits do they share that made them successful? Because everyone is different, you must tease out the individual variations and focus on the commonalities among these experts.

Backtrack the expert’s success to establish your secondary goals.

The successful examples are not a coincidence. If all the experts share the same desired experience, social connections, and work habits, then you need to aim for these things first before achieving your ultimate goal.

Identify the incremental goals leading to your secondary goals.

Brainstorm the actions you can take to get closer to each of your secondary goals. In terms of the desired experience, do you need a professional degree or online courses tailored to your needs? For social connections, who in the organization can help introduce you to the experts and build a mutually beneficial relationship? For work habits, which one of them is the easiest to adopt and stick? Take into account the time and resources needed to achieve these smaller goals.

Draw up an action plan with measurable metrics and timeline.

Once you confirm all the necessary steps, examine how long each step takes and pick the easiest way to complete it. If you have trouble deciding what the best choice is, ask which option can get you to your goal sooner. Sometimes, an excellent choice may not serve you in the long run because it lures you away from your goal. Identify the metrics to monitor your progress and a timeline to keep you on track. Fill out your planner with specific actions for each quarter, month, week, and day. Be sure to reward yourself for reaching each of your incremental goals.

Build a defense system for setbacks.

You’ll be bound to encounter obstacles on your way to success. Be prepared to be disappointed when everything seems to go against you. Build a defense system for times like that. Have a mentor guide you through troubles; have your partner or a close friend comfort you; keep an accomplishment journal handy to appreciate how much you have already achieved.

Adopt successful mindsets.

Be flexible in your approach. When something doesn’t work after multiple tries, test a different angle. Read a book, watch video tutorials, talk to people, and learn to draw inspiration from random events. The clues are everywhere; you just have to look for them.

Be optimistic.

Your attitude plays a role in your likelihood of success. Happiness is a mindset built on open-mindedness and gratitude. Choosing to see the bright side may just bring you the lucky break you deserve.

Be humble.

There is always something you can learn from the person next to you. Pay attention to those with specialized skills. Don’t copy their ideas; study their methods instead. Change their approaches to fit your practice and come up with your own creation. 

With a carefully drawn-up action plan, a defense system, and the successful mindsets, you’re ready to conquer the world. Go out there and make it happen in 2020!

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