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We all know the feeling. We have gotten a gig. Or we have a goal. A creative project. It’s time to make a plan… We think, What’s the first step we should take ?

Stop. Planning ahead won’t work. Instead, plan backwards.

Confused ? Allow me to explain…

The best preparation we can make to manage a process or organize the way toward a goal is to begin by thoroughly understanding that goal. What does success look like ?

Transport yourself to THEN. What is happening ? What does it feel like ? What circumstances have been aligned ? What assets are at hand ? How does the goal or success look now that it is done ?

It pays to be extremely detailed in this. Don’t just daydream. Write it down. Be granular. Get the full picture.

Now. What came directly before that ? What did that look like ? What do you suppose the day before launch was like ? What challenges did you face? What tools had you prepared ? Who did you need to deliver and how did they do that ?

OK… Now what did the day before THAT look like ?

I call this “BackCasting”. I think we’ve all heard of forecasting. Probably most often in weather or economics. It’s the art and science of predicting what is coming. Backcasting is the process of identifying an end result, and then working backwards from there.

As you peel this process, moving backward layer by layer from the goal, identifying what the needs are, and the progressive tasks would be, you will eventually converge with where you are now.

And now, in front of you, is a map. The way forward. And it has come not from the question “how do we start ?”

Instead a much more valuable question lead the way. “How does it end?”

Try it out. The next time you are facing a goal or process planning task, start with the end. And work your way backwards.