Everyone gets fired up at first but few actually reach their goal
The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics is just around the corner and we will once again witness the best of the best perform in their respective arenas. Many moments will be awe inspiring such as the 100ths of a second win in the 100 meter freestyle between Micheal Phelps and (place runner up here) It’s a 4 year preparation and for some once in a lifetime chance of glory. But practically no one asks how these supreme athletes get their goal of winning, much less representing as the best in their respective countries.
We submit to you that there is a surefire process that they take that even you can adopt to massively increase the probability of reaching your goals. We bring you a 4 steps process to reaching your goals:
When people say yes most of the time, they set themselves up for failure even before they lift a finger on a new project since they’re already failing to appropriate sufficient time and energy to it.
Rule # 1: Decide once and for all what your priority is and forget the rest (almost)
Ask the question: “How do we know we’ve won?”
The word priority comes from the 14th century Old French priorite meaning state of being earlier or first one above anything else. This was used to say only one before the next. It was only very recently during the late 19th century that it was extended to mean something plural such as priorities which was especially prevalent in the industry and business. In today’s stressed out world, everyone scrambles to get a handful of things done at the same time and accepts this as the norm. This leads over-committing to activities that result in stress and poor results.
One of the main reasons is people overcommit and say yes all the time without taking a pause to think what other activities will have to suffer to give way to another new commitment. When people do this, they set themselves up for failure even before they lift a finger on the project since from the get go, they’re already failing to appropriate sufficient time and energy to it knowing there are already a lot of other projects going on. The only way you can guarantee above average results without stressing you out is to set goals and work on them only one at a time. Then relegate other things as secondary which you will not commit to do or will schedule at another time. This means simply saying NO to any activity that do not help you bring you closer to your goal. There are wonderful ways to say no to lessen disappointment such as: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisabeth-saunders-medlock-phd/you-can-say-no-8-ways-to-_b_6497954.html. But be willing to accept the fact that your goal is more important than what other people feel about it.
Rule # 2: Set a plan through SMART planning and backward casting
The ubiquitous SMART moniker means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound and to me the 2 most important are Measurable and Timebound. Both answer the question: “How do we know that we’ve won?” Case in point is the perennial objective is how to lose weight. One great statement is this” I will reach at most 130 lbs. by December 31,2016. There is no skirting around this objective and if by so much you weigh 130.5 at that time, then you’ve known you’ve lost.
One of the best strategies for planning is backward casting, which means setting a goal in some future date and breaking them down to monthly and weekly goals then assign specific and time-bound daily activities that move you closer to the weekly goals.
“When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools.” -Michael Leboeuf
For example, if you want to trim down from 160 to 130 lbs. by October 30 which is 6 months away then you would write down monthly then weekly and get specific on the daily activities you need to do to achieve those weekly and monthly goals. The key is to set out time, and hour or two, to think through the plan and activities that go behind them and putting pen to paper. Writing objectives and activities down imprints these ideas and details in your subconscious and helps you remember what you need to do and most importantly why you need to do them. It gives you undivided focus and brings you back to the thinking process that made you write them in the first place. Finally, it helps you concentrate on your thinking which results in better quality ideas. These plans become your living document and checklist when you revisit these written plans at least once a week to see how you’re tracking.
Rule # 3: Protect the daily activities via time blocking
Time blocking means actually scheduling time on the calendar and using digital tools to remind you of exact times in the week you need to work on the activities that will eventually lead to completing the task at the end specified target date in #2. In my case, my target is to publish a book, which contains a compilation of 12 management articles by Dec 31, 2016. This means that I need to write and finish 1 article per month or 12 articles in 1 month. Let me ask you, which one is less stressful and more importantly, which one will have a higher probability of accomplishing the goal?
By breaking down a seemingly major goal into bite size accomplishments over time such as writing 1 article per month starting January, you will have a 50% chance of reaching your goal. The next 30% improvement rests on setting specific time slots in your daily or weekly schedule as to when an hour or two will solely be dedicated to this goal. So a 12,000 word book requires me to write 1000 words a month or 250 words a week or 50 words per working day (Monday to Friday). Now 50 words a day doesn’t seem a lot doesn’t it? The beauty of the technique is that the broken down figures tells your brain that the gargantuan goal is actually achievable and easy which in turn, motivates your brain to actually take the first step.
RULE # 4: Measure & reward along the way
Sometimes you get derailed at some point during the project time span due to uncontrollable events. But most of the time, you get unmotivated due to other interests that will inevitably tempt you to miss your daily task. One effective solution to stay on track is to pin up a scoreboard that can easily be seen daily as a reminder to the percentage done and number of days that has passed. Then, assign small rewards that can be experienced immediately after the goals are achieved such as getting your favorite latte or fruit shake. Using the classic Pavlovian technique of conditioning, we trick our brains to be conditioned to follow through on as task because we know that an instant reward is waiting at the end.
Now you may ask, “Can I apply a larger reward if I complete a bigger but more difficult task?” The answer is no. Starting a new routine immensely decreases the effect of habit forming which give cadence to the brain and hardwires it to follow through every time you see the reminder of the daily task. Further, interrupting with a new routine “resets” the brain back to the first day when you started the task. The likelihood of success then diminishes and the initial effort of getting used to the initial routine was put to waste.
The reality is that there will be days that you will not be able to follow through the daily task but the trick to getting back on track is to forgive yourself and immediately get back to where you left off.
Interrupting with a new routine “resets” the brain back to the first day when you started the task.
While it may be easy to create your dashboard, getting the habit of looking at it everyday to track your progress isn’t. Fortunately there are web-based software available that you can use to set up your dashboard & send you reports everyday. If you are a restaurant manager for example, an innovative web based solution is Restograph: www.restogra.ph. Restograph allows restaurant managers and owners to see actual sales and trends real time, in order to make decisions to improve restaurant performance.