In first approach, you start from thinking out your life’s purpose, major and smaller goals then you move to projects and lastly to actions. Once you’ve clarified your purpose and goal you have a picture of where you want to go, so now is the time to plan out the steps. Also every decision you’re faced with can be screened against the purpose. If the request matches to your purpose than it’s potentially worth doing but if it’s not aligned than there is no point in doing it.
In the second approach, you look at the stuff you have around you, right here and now. As you progress through your current commitments, you can start to look where they lead in terms of the bigger picture. Once the projects are under control you can review the wider context of where they lead and whether the result is one you want. As you gradually build that picture, it’s becoming easier and easier to make the decision about which things should be moved forward and which should be retired.
The main critique of the top down approach is that it’s doesn’t deal well with day to day stuff. The kind of things that need to be done but really don’t fit into your goals. Other element is that it’s fairly difficult to come up with the master plan for life in one sitting. For majority of people this most likely will be a lengthy process.
On the opposite, the bottom up approach is criticized for not providing clear direction of where things should be going. It’s like stacking a ladder against the wrong wall, you’ll get to the top bit is the top you wanted?
Regardless of your view on which is better you can use them both whenever the situation requires. Let me analyse two scenarios to show you how this works.
You’ve been working on different projects but overtime, enthusiasm faltered and things are not moving as well as before. There is a growing disconnect with current situation and whatever option you consider none looks enticing.
This is a prime example where top down thinking can help. Spending some time thinking and analysing the situation in the bigger context can bring more clarity and direction. Consider your position and see what are the goals you’re aiming at, check whether what you’ve been doing is in line with them. If it isn’t, you know where to start. Delete, eliminate, cut out.
You’re swapped with countless tasks and there seem to be not end on that tunnel. As soon as you complete one there are three or four more new coming in. With the flood of new stuff and piles of old there isn’t any place to go.
If you want to solve above than bottom up approach would suit best. Before thinking of goals and life’s purpose start with the ground work. Review all off those items. Decide which require action and which are simple FIY. Go through all of them and don’t skip. Once done pick the first item and start working.
Different situations require different tools and approaches. Our life’s situation changes on very regular basis so sticking with ideas that were relevant six months ago may not be the best choice especially if your situation has moved dramatically.
Use these approaches to your advantage and make progress.