Why Goals Are Just a 5 Minute Sensation
Given that the summer holidays are over and September is upon us, invest a little time and focused effort working out how to have a cracking end of the year.
Here’s a series of simple questions that will help you quickly generate a meaningful plan of attack.
- List out 25ish personal and/or professional things (goals, objectives, aims, intentions) that you’d like to achieve before the end of the year.
- If you could only do 5 of those 25, which 5 would you choose?
You now have 2 lists: a list of 5 things you will work on and a list of 20 things that you will absolutely do no work on whatsoever. Choosing one thing always means not choosing something else. The 2nd list is possibly more valuable than the 1st. Every time you’re tempted to do something towards one of the 20, stop, and redirect your efforts towards 1 of the 5. Do no work on the 20. Re-look at them in January.
- From your list of 5, which is the 1 that is most important to you?
- For each of the 5 things you’re going to achieve, what are the 10 reasons you’re going to achieve them?
These could be a mixture of consequences of not achieving and benefits of achieving it. Without a compelling why you won’t do it.
- Write out your objectives in more detail.
When you write out your intention, be specific about what the outcome will be; make sure you’ll be able to see it or measure it when you’ve achieve it; make sure it feels exciting and motivating. If the thought of it doesn’t get you stirred up or excited, you won’t do it? And should is a terrible reason for doing anything and usually means we won’t do it.
- Write down what the current situation is in relation to your objectives?
Knowing where you’re starting from and being brutally honest with yourself is extremely liberating. Just accept where you are.
The Goal Setting element of the process has now served its purpose. It’s given you a direction of travel.
The actions needed to move you towards your goal fall into 2 types: sequential steps and daily disciplines. If your aim were to recruit an excellent new team member there would be a series of sequential steps to follow to achieve this outcome (determine if the role is really required, write detailed outcome-based role description, draft advert, determine where to place advert, etc.). If your intention is to increase year-on-year gross profits by 17%, it’s likely to require a key activity done on a daily basis. In my opinion, it’s your daily disciplines that are the differentiators between successfully moving in the direction of your goals, and staying where you are.
- What are the steps or daily activities that are going to move you towards this goal?
Getting going is harder than keeping moving so start with something small and easy. Doing something every day, however small, is better than the occasional big push.
As James Clear says, “Rome wasn’t built in a day – but they were laying bricks every hour.”
Creating a simple monitor to track your progress will be helpful and will act as a good feedback loop. A simple, daily tick or number in a box will suffice. Are you dedicating 20 minutes first thing every day – or are you not? Are you doing the reps – or are you not? Are you making the calls – or are you not?
- Create a simple monitor for yourself (this could be one of your first activities on your plan.)
Learn to love the daily process. If you can find a way to enjoy doing it, you’ll keep on doing it. What ever you decide to do, you only ever have to do it “Just for today”.
- When will you complete each (daily) step or activity?
The best time is first thing in the day. And definitely before you open you’re email. (Never let email determine the direction of your day!) If you can, the same time every day is best. Ideally, build the activity into an existing routine to make it easier to do and to increase the likelihood of you doing it. Schedule it in your calendar in a different colour and with a notification attached. And if you fall off the bike one day, just get up and start again tomorrow.
- Where will you do this activity?
It’s best to find somewhere you can concentrate, won’t be distracted and won’t be disturbed. Let people know that you can’t be disturbed. If you haven’t got a quiet room to use, you may have to wear noise-reduction headphones! You may have to get in before everyone else. Leave your phone somewhere else and turn off all notifications. Imagine it’s an old-fashioned school exam! Head down and crack on!
- Who can help and support you in this or hold you accountable?
No one else can do your daily reps for you but you don’t have to do them alone.
- What other resources might you need?
If you’ve answered these questions you now have a small number of compelling goals and a credible plan to achieve them.
So, throw yourself forward to 24th December and tell the story of how it all went horribly wrong.
- You know yourself well so list out all the reasons why you didn’t do what you planned to do? And list out the reasons why the world conspired against you to scupper your plans?
Once you have your list of why things went wrong, answer these 2 questions:
- How can you reduce the likelihood of these things happening?
- What will you do if they do happen?
As always, if you’d like some help creating or implementing your plan, just ask. Only you can do it – but you don’t have to do it alone.