The first step in any project is starting. It can also be the most stifling step, and it’s where professional organizer and founder of Structured Spaces Todd Allan comes in. He said being organized is almost genetic. When he introduces his career to new people, they either respond with: “Why on Earth would I pay someone to do that?” or “I need to work with you right now,” he says, with a laugh. And his work can extend to almost any aspect of someone’s life, from the obvious — creating better flow to a home or workplace — to the less obvious — helping clients navigate the next step in their careers or achieve their health goals.
He launched Seattle-based Structured Spaces in 2014 after working in food production for most of his life. When his youngest son was diagnosed with ADD, he started to notice a lot of the symptoms in himself, and realized he’d been compensating throughout his life by being ultra-organized.
Then, when a friend told him he had the most organized home she’d ever seen, and he should be an organization coach for a living, he decided to give it a try. As of late, Allan’s business is focused more on productivity and organizing digital spaces, such as email, cloud-based storage, and calendars. But he still helps people sculpt and execute their goals on a myriad of topics.
425 spoke with Allan to learn the basic structure of creating and going after a goal — any goal you may have going into the new year. The process, it turns out, is actually pretty simple.
Step 1: The Funnel
“The first step is more broad in nature,” Allan said. “It’s understanding what the goal means to you and how that goal relates to who you really are. The top of the funnel is really broad, and as you kind of define down into where you actually need to be, you start to answer those questions. We can all flippantly say you want to do … whatever. But unless it really rings true with who you are and your role in life, then it’s going to be really challenging for you to accomplish.”
Step 2: Break It Down
Decide when you want to accomplish your goal, and break it down into chunks with timelines attached to each step. Depending on how big each step is, it might be wise to break those steps down into smaller steps.
“A common goal clients have is accomplishing more in their careers,” he said. “The first step might be deciding if the career they’re in is actually meant for them. Assuming they are in the right career, what do they want to achieve in their next position? We’d look at skills they’d need to acquire, what kind of accomplishments would they need to have going forward, and what kind of projects would they need to take responsibility for.”
Step 3: Review and Modify
As you hit each step, it’s important to have a review process, Allan said, and not just to ensure that you’re staying on track with your goal, but also to celebrate your accomplishments along the way.
“The review and revision is probably the most challenging thing,” he said. “When you set a goal, it’s exciting in the beginning, but if you keep going down that road without the review or the revision, you’ll possibly get weary.”
And equally as important the review process is modifying the goal along the way. Allan said some people attach themselves so tightly to their original goal that they miss out on what they want to accomplish. Maintaining flexibility is important.