12 November 2010, by A. Cedilla
In previous articles here on the JRox.com blogs, we’ve mentioned the importance of goal-setting, and of using your priorities to reflect, guide and support the goals you make for yourself. Today, let’s talk about how to stay on track with your personal goals.
First of all, let ‘s start with the premise that all important goals are deeply personal.
Even if you work within a company, or live and function as part of an extended family, or have a nuclear family of your own, when you set goals that are important to you, it’s not just because these goals can help the company, or your family, or the other important people in your life.
The goals you set that you value are valuable precisely because they reflect dreams, desires and targets that you deem important. The fact that they also serve, say, the company or your loved ones, is a reflection of your priorities, and a very beneficial parallel.
For example, let’s say that because you believe doing a good job is your goal, excelling is a point of pride for you. To do a good job, you make it a point to know what parameters a “good job” would meet, and you consistently hit , and try to push a little more past, these parameters.
Not just because the company told you, or your parents or spouse or friends said so, but you took what they held as an example – a starting point – and made it your own point of judgment that you can do “a good job” by doing what it takes: using clear lines of communication, getting feedback, keeping records of your performance, and reviewing your processes and performance to see where you can streamline it, dropping unnecessary steps, replacing or simplifying others.
Following this reasoning, what can distract you from your goals is also personal, in the sense that the way these distractions and interruptions affect YOU and slow you down, bring you down or drag you off-course.
What are the common problems when it comes to staying on-track?
Procrastination is the most common enemy to accomplishing your goals. When you put off taking the necessary steps towards your goal, not only do you waste the time you have NOW, but you’re making problems for yourself in the future when you scramble to catch up.
Even more, procrastination bogs you down and leaves you feeling bad about yourself for being so wishy-washy and undisciplined. You get sucked into a bad mood, and your will is leached of life.
Solution: Keep written records of your performance, and let the proof speak for itself.
Whether captured in black and white, or in your favorite calendar application, a record of the steps you actually took and are currently taking stands as a testament to your efforts and a spur to keep going. “After a month of keeping to the program, it’s a shame, a damn shame to just stop now.” So you keep going. Or, “Hey, I did a total of 100 push-ups this week! And I thought I’d never even make it to 30, heh. I’, gonna push for more next week.”
Procrastination is a mental roadblock stemming from an inability to just ACT. You’re considering too many options, waiting for the right information, a sign, an omen. You just can’t decide. Writing down the steps you already took to reach a goal shows you:
- You did it already, so you can do it again – and again, until you reach your target.
- You did it before – and you’re doing it NOW. Finishing the step. Getting it done.
Vague, imprecise goals are enemies of clarity. When you’re not clear on what you want, you can drift for a long time looking. And time equals life. Do you really want to drift your life away?
Solution: Use clear lines of communication, with yourself and with the people who can help you.
It may sound off, even a bit hinky, but keeping an open dialogue with yourself sets you up for getting honest reactions and insights to the problems you encounter.
You get a better idea of what you really feel about things that bug you or make you stumble, not what you think you should feel, or how you’re used to reacting — which, now that you’re paying more attention, never really solved the root cause of your issues.
Talking with other people also gives you a different perspective on the issues you’re facing. Granted, some of the people you choose as sounding boards may have their own agenda, but don’t let that stop you from taking the opportunity to see things from a different angle. Take what you can use, discard the rest.
Use SMART goals. Have a target date, your own personal best-by to drive you.
As an aside, having BHAG’s – Big, Hairy Audacious Goals – can be intimidating at first glance, but the power lies in the breakdown of these goals.
BHAG’s take time because they’re so audacious, and it takes nerves and guts and a steady head on your shoulders to be able to use your present wisely, to break down those big, brazenly brassy goals into smaller, micro-accomplishments and succeed in bagging your BHAG’s in the future.
Having goals aren’t enough. Are the steps you’re taking actually working?
Solution: Establish and keep a consistent review schedule, rain or shine. This does three things for you:
- A schedule reminds you that you have time; time to waste and time to use to the best of your control. It reminds you to discipline yourself. If you truly believe that your goals are important but right now inspiration has fled and you just don’t feel like it, you put on the boots and do what it takes, even if you don’t feel like it. Because even if you don’t FEEL like it, you’re still ACTING like the goal is important to you, and treating it accordingly. And actions speak louder than emotions over the long run.
- A schedule serves as a record of how much time and labor (and money, etc.) you’ve invested, and how much more it will take to finish a stage, or several stages, of your goals. It keeps you realistic, and helps you budget your attention, time and money to levels that you actually can maintain, and not just fantasize about.
- A schedule keeps you coordinated and helps you BUDGET your energy wisely.
The review, on the other hand, serves you in the following ways:
- You do not just recall what you did, you analyze it and try to see what gave you any issues or discomfort. You can adjust.
- You can plot the next few steps even better, based on real-life, real-time information, while it’s still fresh and relevant.
- You KEEP IN TOUCH. Keeping in touch keeps you on track.
Knowing what’s really important to you means keeping these things close and constantly using them to prioritize your actions, and making sure the bulk of your decisions reflect, are guided by and support what you deem vital to your happiness. That’s how you keep on track.
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