May I be open with you?
I have to tell you, there’s something which bothers me from time to time.
(well, when it comes to productivity and time management, at least 😉 )
Do you know what that is?
It’s those days when I know I should be doing something more meaningful than simply to go around in circles like a shi**y pigeon!
(yes, that’s how we say it here)
And, yes, even though I’m mostly good at being productive and managing my time, those days still DO happen to me.
(believe it or not)
And they really suck.
Do you have those days as well, and how often they happen to you?
Enough to want to put an end to it, huh?
I’ll assume you said yes, so – great, listen up!
I’ve decided to declare war to those moments, with a hope to eliminate them (ok, let’s be real… to maximumly minimize their frequency)!
Care to join me while we plot the tactic?
Here it goes!
Phase 1 – Being clear on what you DO want (or DON’T)
First thing first!
If you want to be clear about which direction to take, you have to know where you want to get to.
I’m sure this quote sounds quite familiar to you…
If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
But, that’s not why we’re here.
However, that line is so true.
If you want to create and follow a path which will lead you to your end goal, you have to know right from the start what your goal is.
Some people can name it in a heartbeat – excellent if you’re one of them.
Others (including myself here), however, need some time to think about it.
You see, to me, it’s not the problem that I’m a no-idea, empty-headed, lack-of-interests person.
It’s quite the opposite.
There are so many things I would like to do, so many ideas keep popping in on a daily basis, and they all seem interesting enough to pursue them.
But, as you probably know, spreading yourself too thin will lead you nowhere.
At least not until the very distant future.
And I guess no one wants to wait too long to see whether the outcomes proved their investment.
Therefore, my biggest challenge is to choose what appears to be the best idea to pursue.
Oh, and also, let’s not forget this possibility!
Some people may struggle when it comes to defining what they want.
Know how it is when you want to change something?
You feel it’s time to do something new, to make some sort of a shift in your life, to change your direction (maybe even completely), yet you can’t seem to put it to words or pinpoint it.
What you do know is that you’ve reached your current limit, and it’s time to move on.
At those moments, maybe the best option is to focus on your current experience and lifestyle.
Based on those, figure out what you DON’T want and it’ll be a good enough starting point for the future ahead.
Let those “I don’t want” items be your guide at first, and when things get a little clearer (and they will, in not so distant future – I promise you 😉 ) you’ll discover the exact term you’re looking for.
Phase 2 – Create a goal
What you should do next is to create a goal.
Not a wishy-washy kind though, but a goal decent to your strivings.
It’s not enough simply to say “My goal is to do/manage/develop (the thing).”.
Although many people do perceive a goal that way.
But when you put it that way, is it really a goal or just a wish?
(hint: it’s not the first one!)
You want to have that awesome body figure.
I do, too.
But, exactly how, and by when do you plan to achieve it?
(see what I mean? there IS a difference between a nice wish and a goal)
Therefore, this is the phase where you should get really clear and specific about the different aspects which make your goal.
You already got the “what” from Phase 1, but this is the time when you need to determine the “why, when, who, where, how much…”.
To fully nail all the necessary, have a look at Setting SMART Goals – The Best System To Smash Your Goals for a complete step-by-step guide.
When done, come back here again, so we could proceed further. 😉
Phase 3 – Determine the action steps
By now you have a much clearer image of what you want to accomplish, right?
Do I see a head nodding?
Let’s go to the next step then, which is – determine the action steps.
I’m sure you have at least a couple of ideas on what you should do as the result of the previous phase.
And if you have a lot of action-ideas plus they’re all in order – awesome!
You can pass this step at the speed of light!
However, I have to be honest with you – my action steps are not quite developed at this stage.
(at least not yet!)
I do have a rough sketch regarding the possible actions I can take, but at this point, I’m still unsure whether the actions I’m currently thinking of are the only one I can take.
Am I being clear?
(argh, those thoughts running with the speed of light!)
What I want to say is that I have to take some more time to check whether I’m missing some action which would have a relatively big impact on the process.
(or maybe I just suffer from overthinking… 😀 )
Surprisingly, I usually manage to discover a few additional action steps I could use along the way.
That way I end up having at least several action steps in mind (which is always a good thing), but at this point, to me, they seem scattered all over the place.
(or, better to say – they don’t have a dedicated position on a time scale).
And since randomly placed action steps are not the way to plan out a path to goal achieving, the last step (for this phase, at least) is to place them in the correct order.
I’ve even made a mini goal setting workbook which helps the process of organizing and following through these steps so much easier.
Therefore, if you’re like me, and all of this sound familiar to you, here’s what is best to do:
- Take some time to brainstorm possible action steps.
- Figure out the most effective ones according to your personal criteria of choice – it may be in terms of time, energy, financial input…
- Once you have the action steps, arrange them on a timeline.
- If later on, you discover you’re still missing a step or two (as I usually do), just add them to the appropriate point of time.
I have to point out one thing here.
There is no right or wrong when creating your plan and its action steps.
Based on your possibilities, resources, personal wantings, limitations, beliefs, lifestyle (and many other factors as well) you alone are the only one who decides what works for you or not.
I’m sure in the process you googled out other people’s experiences and read about their action steps and advice regarding your end goal.
(hey, we all do that! if nothing else, to be informed about what we’re getting ourselves into! 😀 )
However, what I want to tell you is that you don’t have to replicate those action steps to successfully reach your goal.
Or – the worst case scenario – you’re trying to replicate other people’s action steps and not reaching your goal at all.
(at least not the way they did)
Urgh, that made me quiver…
To prevent this from happening, create and follow your own path which you’re comfortable with.
That way you’ll be much more content, relaxed and happier throughout the journey.
Phase 4 – Put them on your calendar/planner
Yay! We’re halfway there!
Let’s continue and blast this thing to the end!
By now you already have the action steps and a plan to put them to work.
The next step is placing it all in your preferred organization tool.
It can be a calendar or a planner (both either tangible or digital), several post-it notes, a phone, an app…
Whatever system/tool you are already using to organize and plan out your time will do just fine.
(having reminders as possible additions to it would be an excellent bonus!)
(and if by some miraculous case you still don’t have a planner, I have created a goal planner which makes you stay focused on your target – perfect for this occasion)
So: put… the… action… steps… on… your… agenda!
And don’t forget to regularly check up on them – you don’t want to miss some step (or even more! 😮 ) along the way or break the deadline assigned for the specific task.
Phase 5 – Work on it!
Once everything is well prepared, it is time to TAKE REAL ACTION!
Or, to put it differently – work on it, baby!
It’s next to impossible to expect something to happen if you only sit around and wait for it.
Chances are you could wait a looong time, and probably never live to see it, you know…
So, simply – start!
Even though you might feel unready, unprepared, doubtful, unsure…
Ignore whatever fear you may have that’s causing you to think twice about your end goal and start working on it.
Even if it’s only one tiny thing in a day.
Being consistent and restless in your actions will surely move you forward and closer to what you set out to achieve.
Create an achievements list and get into the habit of writing down everything you accomplished on the path, it’ll be your rearview mirror.
Take a look at it from time to time, and you’ll realize how much progress you’ve made.
Phase 6 – Stick to it!
Too many times we give up on our goals because we feel like we’re giving ourselves too much in it without getting anything solid in return.
(that’s so motivating, right? and for the record, I was being ironic there!)
I know, we all need a little bit more than just nice wishes, hope, and enthusiasm to move us through those days.
However, don’t quit just yet.
Not if there’s a big, fat, good reason “why” behind it.
Stick to your goal even if you don’t see immediate results!
Stick to it because you owe it to yourself, because it means deeply to you, and because you know how your life looks like without it.
But if you feel or know something’s not moving right – adapt to circumstances.
You know the famous quote by Thomas Edison:
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.Thomas Edison
It really represents well the passion to pursue an idea.
(and to be honest, congratulations on the stamina – I truly believe I would abandon my own goal way before reaching that milestone! hey, everyone has their own limits! 🙂 )
You can get some ideas on what to do in this specific case in a post From SMART To SMARTER Goals – How These Little Tweaks Can Save You A Lot Of Trouble.
That should be enough to put an end to the days when you (and I) do nothing else but go around in circles.
(without mentioning the pigeon this time! :))
Now we’ll always know what we should do and focus on in a day.
(yay for neverending entertainment!)
What do you think?
Did we craft a good plan or not?