This is a time of the year when many of us look back on what we accomplished during the year. Did we achieve our New Year resolutions? Did we move closer to our big life goals? There are a wide variety of similar questions we ask ourselves whenever we reflect on our success. It’s important to reflect on our achievements and understand what we accomplished. However, it’s even more important to look at what our vision and mission really are and how do we get there. This is a great time of the year to identify how we can move forward in our life. We then set the stage for even greater achievement after the first of the year.
To achieve anything we have to first envision what it is we want. These may come in the form of written goals, a clear vision and/or mission statement, a vision board or just a deep sense of what we are called to do. Being clear on the desired endpoint is a critical step in reaching it. How do you know what to do if you aren’t clear on where you are going? This clarity takes time to develop; you must get in touch with your skills, your passion and who you want to be in the world. Establishing that vision of your future world creates a mindset that allows you to start moving towards it with purpose and determination.
Once you know where you are going it’s time to get moving forward. It can be hard to create a vision for the future but it’s even harder to take action to get there. Dreaming is so much easier than getting down into the trenches and working hard to reach your goal. Part of the reason taking action is so hard is because we of goals think in terms of grand accomplishments or big projects. Instead take the time to identify the first simple steps you need to take to reach your goal. This is about what can you do first, then what would come second, then what’s third. Start with the first things to do and the steps required after that will become clear.
You really don’t need a plan of action that details every single thing you must do to reach your goal. In fact, if you spend time creating that detailed of a plan you are closing the door on flexibility and new opportunities. As well, you set yourself up for failure. If you have a highly detailed plan and a detour comes up that is the right thing for you to do it creates a conflict – do I go with my plan or the detour? Many then get stuck or start second guessing their decision. This stops them from moving forward and they end up not reaching their goals.
So look at your goals and ask yourself these questions to get moving forward today:
- What can I do today to move towards my goal?
- How can I take advantage of the resources I have at hand to help reach my goal?
- Who could help me move forward today?
- Where can I learn a needed skill or gain a resource I need today?
- Why am I procrastinating on working towards my goals?
- If I take no action today when will I take that next step?
Moving forward towards your dreams and your goals is a series of small steps that ultimately get you where you want to go. You just have to take the first one to start moving forward. As you move forward your goals will get closer to you and you will find the next steps to take in front of you.
What step will you take today?
If you are stuck and would like help figuring out how to start moving forward contact me for a Jump-Start Coaching Session.
Now that summer has officially started have you partially checked out of work? It’s not uncommon for people to get distracted by the thoughts of time off, fun weekend activities, family events, etc. during the summer months. However, as part of a team you need to be fully engaged to get things done. When others are gone you might be covering their tasks in addition to your normal duties so you need to be on top of your game.
How do you get on top of your game when the days are longer and there is more to do outside of work? Here are a few tips to help you stay focused at work, get done quicker and enjoy your time out of the office.
- Plan your work. It’s always a good idea to have a plan for what needs to be done and when, but when you are covering for others it becomes critical.
- Work your plan. Now that you have a plan, follow it. Make sure you look at your to-do list each morning and at the end of the day to ensure you are on track.
- Block time. Create blocks of time, could be 30 minutes or 4 hours, to get the important things done on time. Schedule this time in your calendar so you know you need to focus and get stuff done.
- Stay flexible. Allow time for the unexpected and the new items that are sure to come your way. When you are covering for someone else there are sure to be surprises that need attention, so make room in your plan to handle those items.
- Know your limits. Be aware of how much is on your plate already so when you are asked to take on more work temporarily you know how much time you have to give. If you must cover and it will impact your own deadlines keep people in the loop.
- Get clarity. When asked to take over for someone, be sure you know in detail what MUST be done while they are gone and what would be nice to have done. Plan to handle the musts and if possible knock out some of the nice to haves.
- Be clear. As you ask others to cover for you, be clear on what needs to be done and by when. Focus on getting only the critical items dealt with in your absence. If possible get things done ahead of time, so there is very little for people to handle while you are gone.
- Take lunch breaks. When you are swamped it’s easy to skip lunch to get more done before quitting time. This just leads to additional stress on your body and mind. Take the break! Even 30 minutes away from the computer, phone and your desk will help you recharge for the afternoon push.
- Have fun. Remember getting away from work is a great time to relax, unwind and recharge your energy. Make time to enjoy the important people in your life.
- Show appreciation. Let the people who are covering for you know you appreciate it. We all like to know our efforts are noticed and appreciated.
If you show up and are engaged each day at work you will get more done and it will be easier to take time away to enjoy all the fun things summer has to offer. Avoid mentally leaving the office before you are physically gone. Be there for your team and they will be there for you.
I wanted to share some of the interesting articles I’ve read over the last month. Enjoy!
What has inspired you to look at things in new ways?
When you are starting a new project or just getting organized it’s important to plan out what needs to be done by when and how you are going to do it. This is a critical step in the success of any project. But what happens when the planning becomes more important than producing results? How does this happen and what can you do if you find yourself in this trap?
Planning can become an activity trap that distracts you from making progress towards the goal. Reasons planning becomes as a distraction are:
- Need for 100% of the information
- Fear of risk
- No tolerance for mistakes
- Lack of commitment to goal
First it is important to get as much information as is practical to get the job done. However, keep in mind that you will not be able to get 100% of the information to make the endeavor risk free. Finding the balance on what is the right amount of information to act wisely can be tricky. If you can get 80% of the information you feel you need to make a good decision that is enough to act upon. Look at it, draw conclusions and evaluate the risks. Once you have that you can move forward with confidence.
Another reason people spend too much time on planning is that there is no tolerance for mistakes. This can be a personal or an organizational issue. Mistakes happen and in reality most learning comes from mistakes. Cultivate an attitude that a mistake is not a failure it is a learning opportunity. Thomas Edison said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” If all of us looked at mistakes as an opportunity to learn how to do something better than it would be much easier to act without fear. When something goes wrong ask yourself what you learned from it and what will you do differently next time.
Lastly, planning becomes a project in itself when people aren’t committed to the goal of the project. If you are not convinced that the goal is worthwhile it’s much easier to spend time planning than it is to get started with the work. Planning can become the excuse for not acting when there is no commitment to the goal. It’s hard to argue with someone who is checking facts, gathering needed information, or putting together a plan for completion. However, if there is no forward movement it may be time to explore the commitment to the goal.
To avoid these traps, set clear deadlines for action as well as milestones for progress checks. Holding yourself and others accountable for creating a good plan and then implementing the plan will go a long way towards circumventing the planning distraction trap. As well, create an environment that allows mistakes to be used as learning opportunities. This will give people the freedom to move forward with some calculated risks to avoid the trap of wanting 100% guaranteed and helps overcome the fear of taking risks. This is a cultural issue within an organization and can be controlled by the leader’s attitude.
Having a plan is necessary to achieving excellence. When planning becomes a goal in and of itself it has turned into a distraction.
There is a prevailing myth that we, as humans, can manage time. We really can’t. There are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day – every day and it’s the same amount for everyone. So why is it that some people seem to get so much more out of their time? They recognize that they can’t manage time; however, they can use that time effectively to get things done.
Time management is about effective time utilization. It’s that easy and it’s that hard. So how can we get the most out of our time each day? Here are three keys to get you started:
- Know what’s important.
- Understand time needed for what’s important.
- Block out time for the important.
The first thing to do is to get clear on what’s important. These are the things you need and want to do. On the job they are your job responsibilities and goals. This may be a weekly report, month end statements, or the project that is due on Tuesday. In your personal life, these are the things that are important to your life goals. These may be spending time with family and friends, exercising, enjoying your hobbies. Whatever is important, make note of it, take the time to get clear and stay aware of what’s critical to your job and your life. Make a list so you can stay on top of them.
Now that you know what is important take the time to figure out what is required for each item. The weekly report may take an hour each Friday; okay make a note of it. If the month end statements take a day, recognize it. If you want to exercise an hour four times a week it’s important to take that into consideration. Assign time for each of the important items on your list.
Finally, when you know how much time is needed for the important things you can open your calendar and start blocking out time for each item. The weekly report that takes an hour every Friday should have an appointment with you every Friday. If you need an hour four mornings a week to exercise, schedule it – make an appointment with yourself to get in shape. When we look at our calendars the things that are scheduled and have time blocked out are more likely to get done as planned. These items are compelling on our calendar so put the items from your important list on your calendar.
People who effectively use their time to get things done recognize these three steps and follow them. Their exact method probably varies, but they acknowledge and make time for what’s important to them. This gives them control over what they do each day and they are focused on accomplishing the important goals and spending their time on important things.
We each have the same amount of time each day, what we do with it is up to us. Make this a great day!
“Big results require big ambitions.” Heraclitus
Next week 2012 comes to an end and 2013 begins. Are you ready for the New Year? Have you taken the time to look at your goals and plans? If not, why not? Some people hate the idea of creating resolutions or writing down goals. Here are the top five reasons for resisting setting goals:
- “I don’t know what I want”
- Setting the wrong goals
- Past disappointments
There has been a lot of discussion lately around the idea of not setting goals. This is focused on the fact that setting the wrong goals leads to the wrong behavior. The reality is that you get what you measure so be careful what you set as the goal. I’ve seen supervisors who are judge by the number of defects their department records, so they stop recording the problems and just fix them. That looks good but the problems aren’t addressed in a way that focuses on eliminating recurrence of the errors.
Setting goals does not have to be hard or limiting. The idea is to create a vision of where you want to go. When you decide to go on vacation you start with an idea of where you want to go and then create a plan of how to get there. Why is your life any different? Goals are visions of the future and what you want to achieve or have in life. These can be very specific or they can be more like a big picture. With the end in mind you can figure out the steps to take that will get you there.
The great thing about having goals is that once you start moving forward towards the things you want you will be surprised at how far you go. Setting one or two really big goals that seem out of reach can be daunting, however breaking them down and getting started will create momentum that will carry you farther than you thought possible. To get big results you need to know what you are striving for.
Here are five reasons to set goals for 2013:
- Help clarify what you want
- Build confidence
- Create a sense of control
- Make the impossible possible
- Expand your horizons
If you haven’t already set goals for the upcoming year, take some time this week and dream about what you would like to accomplish by this time next year. Write your thoughts down. Next start figuring out what has to be done to make them happen. Now you have your goals and a plan for the year. Good luck and go for it!
What is your favorite tip for setting goals?
How do you handle it when your plans get derailed? Things come up that are beyond our control that can completely disrupt our plan for the day/week. Do you just roll with it and figure that you will get back on track sooner or later? Do you worry about all the things that you aren’t getting done? Do you come to a complete stop while you figure out how to proceed? Do you deal with the situation and make a plan to get back on track as quickly as possible? All of these are normal responses to those unexpected disruptions that happen. Here are some tips for getting back on track as quickly as possible.
- Get rest. A good night’s sleep is a huge factor in how productive we are, so get the rest you need so you have the energy to handle what is in front of you.
- Accept the unexpected. Sometimes all we can do is take what life hands us, so accept what just came your way and deal with it appropriately.
- Let people know what’s happened. If you are going to be late on something that is owed to someone else, let them know what’s going on with you. People will work with you if they know something has happened.
- Ask for help. Delegate if you can and ask others to give you a hand to get through the unexpected issue.
- Reevaluate your to-do list. Take a few minutes and look at what you had planned and add what now needs to be done. Figure out what can be moved, delegated and must be done immediately.
- Give up perfection. Recognize that you are not going to get it all done and tell yourself that it’s okay.
If you can stop and recognize that unexpected things happen, it is easier to get a handle on the impact it will have on your world. Unfortunately we can’t control every aspect of every day so it’s important to learn how to react to the curve balls that come our way. A key is to focus on what needs to be done, what can realistically be done and to get help from others. This will happen to everyone at some point or another so accepting that you are dealing with more than you planned on will help you stop and find a way to get back on track. When you get derailed by events, stop, focus, and make a plan to recover. You will feel more in control of your world and that will help you handle the situation.
Here are the articles I have read recently that I found interesting and thought provoking. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Enjoy your reading and have a great weekend.
The year is coming to a close so now many of us are turning our attention to what we want to accomplish in 2013. Have you looked at your goals for the New Year yet? Waiting until January to decide what you will do means you are starting late. To hit the ground running start you’re planning now so you can have things ready to start meeting your goals.
When you set your goals do you play it safe and just pick the things you know you can accomplish? That’s the easy way to do your goals, however to really reach for excellence you have to reach for those things that seem too hard or too far away. You may not make all the way but odds are you will go further than you imagined was even possible. Are you willing to settle for “good enough” or are you ready to go for more next year? Big dreams as goals can be called BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals).
Dream big when you are looking at your goals for the next year. Think about what would be the best thing ever for you to reach in the next year. Maybe it’s retiring this year, or it’s a big promotion, or it’s a huge raise in salary, or it’s buying your dream home, or it’s paying for kid’s college, or it’s launching a new business, or it’s getting that dream job. It doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is that it’s your big dream. Focus on what you would love to accomplish, what does it look like, how would it feel to get it, and why is it important to you. Put this down as one of your goals for the next year, maybe you have several BHAG’s that you want to chase in the upcoming year that won’t interfere with each other. Go for it.
Now that you have your BHAG identified for 2013 you need to start breaking it down into manageable steps. So ask yourself the following questions to get started:
- What is the first thing you need to do to pursue this goal? What other steps you will need to get to there?
- Who can help you reach this goal? You may need to meet new people so identify where you would meet them.
- Where can you find resources to help you?
- When will you take that first step?
- How much time can you spend right now to get started?
This is the beginning of your plan to reach your dream. The bigger your goal the further you will go, so dare to go big.
The reality is that you will achieve more if you risk more. There will be setbacks, hurdles and obstacles along the way. Keep your dream in mind and celebrate the successes you have along the way. You will only be stopped if you allow the challenges to derail you. When you come up against a stumbling block, pause and reflect on how far you’ve already come and why you want to reach this goal. Once you’ve realized you are doing well look for a way around the problem and keep moving.
In 2013 you can do more than you thought possible as long as you dream big when setting your goals. Good luck and go big!