“If money were no object and success was guaranteed, where would you be in five years time?”

This was the question posed by Olympic athlete and motivational speaker Kriss Akabusi at a recent gathering I attended of HR professionals.  It was an inspiring and energetic evening, during which Kriss challenged people to step out of the ‘boxes’ we put around ourselves and step into the arena.

A man with a big personality and an even bigger smile, Kriss is certainly well qualified to talk about what it takes to achieve your goals and ambitions.  A three-time Olympic medallist and a World, European and Commonwealth champion, he is probably best known for helping Britain clinch the gold and beat the Americans in the world championship 4 x 400 metre relay in Tokyo in 1991.  Since then, he has built an impressive career in broadcasting and professional speaking, has set up a charity to help young people get into work and is part-way through an MBA at Ashridge Business School.

Everyone left his presentation fired up with enthusiasm and re-energised to work towards their dreams, whether they be personal or professional.  These are the key messages I took away from the evening, courtesy of Kriss.  I hope some of them will resonate with you and will help you drive your business forward or take your career to new heights in 2014:

Live your dreams, not your fears

We all put barriers in the way of achieving our ambitions.  Scarcity of time, not enough money, lack of skills, fear of failure. But how many of these are genuine barriers and how many are excuses?  Spend some time thinking about what’s really getting in the way for you.  What can you do to overcome those obstacles – and are you sure they are really what’s stopping you?

The past is for reference, not for residence

One of Kriss’ mantras.  It’s all too easy to live in the past and let ourselves be held back by past events, experiences or messages from our childhood.  What we need to do is leave the unhelpful baggage behind us and in Kriss’s words: “Pick out the great elements of the past to help create our preferred future”.

It’s never too late

When we were young, we were full of potential – and we still are!  Don’t tell yourself you are too old or it’s too late to achieve your dreams or ambitions or find a new direction.  Recognise the potential within yourself, identify the unique contribution you can make, and give yourself permission to just go for it.

We all need other people

Very few people achieve their goals, ambitions and dreams alone.  If you are a big picture person, for example, you need a detail person to help you focus on the task in hand and follow through on what needs to be done.  Devote some time to understanding yourself better (there are plenty of psychometric and personality tools out there to help you) and seek out people who are strong in areas where you may need some support.  Everybody needs a mentor – so take active steps to find people who can come with you on your journey.

Have a plan

“If you have a goal or dream and you don’t write it down it becomes a daydream,” said Kriss.  Try and put together some kind of basic plan, which outlines the key steps you need to take along the way to achieving your objective.  Small steps can lead to great things and getting it down in black and white will increase your chances of achieving your goals.

What’s your big dream, for yourself or for your business – and what strategies do you have to help you get there? Have you looked at HR systems to help your company plan for the future and reach it’s goal?

For more inspiration and motivation, visit www.akabusi.com

Erika Lucas author image

Erika Lucas

Writer and Communications Consultant

Erika Lucas is a writer and communications consultant with a special interest in HR, leadership, management and personal development. Her career has spanned journalism and PR, with previous roles in regional press, BBC Radio, PR consultancy, charities and business schools.