Last week we talked about the benefits of taking your foot off the gas when trying to accomplish a big goal or task. This week we’ll change gears and talk about the one thing that prevents us from achieving what we set out to do, and how to start using it to your advantage.
But first, a story to set the stage. Recently I had a conversation with a friend who appeared to have a good handle on what she wanted to accomplish this year. Months ago I walked her through the goal setting process I use and she followed all the right steps to create her own big goals for 2017. Here’s how she got there:
Step 1: take stock of all the things you’ve accomplished recently. Most of us move too quickly through life and don’t take time to reflect and realize we’ve done some pretty awesome things lately. Big or small. This primes your brain to think positively about what you are capable of.
Step 2: think about what you want to accomplish by starting with Paul Meyer’s “Wheel of Life” circle, which ensures you are focusing on your whole life. Meyer created this in 1960s and it still applies today. Here are the key areas to include:
Step 3: brainstorm goals for each of these categories. Don’t limit yourself here. This is the fun part, so take a ‘blue sky, green grass’ approach and write down anything you desire within these areas of life. You’ll filter it out later – for now, all thoughts are good thoughts.
Step 4: within each category, pick the one goal that’s most important to you right now and clearly define it (ex. under Physical, it may look like this – “I will achieve a bodyweight of xxx by July 31, 2017”). Notice how different that statement is than “I want to lose weight.”
Step 5: At this point, you should have 8 goals (one for each category). Now pick your top 3, based upon what’s most important right now. For example, you may consider your business/career goal to be important, however if your health is failing perhaps this is the year to get in better shape. My experience has shown me that if you have more than 3 goals, you have none! You have to focus in order to get shit done.
Back to my friend. Now that she developed and selected her three big goals, here’s the question I asked her (hint: it’s the one thing you need in order to achieve anything).
“What system do you have in place to track your goals?”
Her face said it all. The energy fell out of our conversation. Why? The fun and easy part is picking your goals – it’s exciting and invigorating! The real work begins once the goals are set, and you need a system in place to measure your progress. You must hold yourself accountable – or else you’ll end up wasting hours in front of the TV every night (note: nothing wrong with TV in moderation, just be aware this is usually the biggest time suck for all of us).
Here’s what I suggested to her:
- find a tracking tool that works for you. Think of it as your personal “operating system.” It can be paper-based (journal or goal setting workbook) or electronic (iPhone calendar, Excel spreadsheet, etc). I like paper-based personally, as there’s just something about putting pen to paper that works for me.
- every Sunday take 15-30 minutes to map out the following:
- Review your 3 big goals
- Each month, set 3 monthly goals that line up to your 3 big goals (ex. using the Physical goal example above, a monthly goal may be “…to lose 3lbs by May 31st…”)
- Each week, set 3 weekly goals that line up to your 3 big goals (ex. continuing the Physical goal example, a weekly goal may be “…to pack healthy lunches 3 days this week..”)
Now you have a system! This is the secret sauce that ensures you are making progress each day/week/month towards your big goal. The big goal starts to feel attainable when you break it down this way, and your confidence grows week by week as you track your progress. Be intentional. Be consistent.
There are plenty of tools/systems out there that you can buy (for cheap) that are pre-populated with the format I just outlined. My personal favourite is Darren Hardy’s “Living Your Best Year Ever.” I can honestly say that workbook opened my eyes and changed my life.
Give it a shot and let me know what you think.