Thursday, October 29, 2015

Three Keys Thursday: 3 Keys for Getting to a Goal

Photo: Dodgerton Skillhause
Typically, I'm a global person, but sometimes, I charge through life with my blinders on and lose sight of the big picture. On Monday, I came face-to-face with the reality of a deadline I'd set for myself, and it became clear that continued procrastination would not work if I wanted to meet that deadline.

Neither would a global approach. It was time to take stock, break the remaining tasks into action steps and move forward. I needed to do away with distractions, structured procrastination and anything non-essential and focus on moving toward my goal.

When you get serious about achieving a goal, the best way to reach it is to create a plan. The steps I used aren't rocket science, but following through on them involves both discipline and motivation. Because the goal is important to me, I expect that I'll be able to find both, at least most of the time.

Want to get from here to there? Try this:

Lay it out. Clearly state your goal and think about what lies between you and its successful completion. What are all the things you have to do to get from here to there? Write them down (or type them up), breaking things down into logical chunks, each of which requires as few steps as possible (ideally one). When I prepare for class, for example, I need to:

  • create my presentation (including what I call an orientation slide); 
  • create and/or copy any handouts and
  • upload the information for my students.
Although creating the presentation is a multi-step process, this is something I do all the time, so "create the presentation" is a logical chunk. I separated out the orientation slide only because when I neglect to state it specifically, I sometimes forget to do it. Similarly, uploading the information may require more than one step, but everything is going to the same place and, since I tend to do it all at once, that's a logical chunk for me.
Break it down. Once you decide what needs to be done, you need to decide when you're going to do each thing. With class preparation, I tend to devote a chunk of time to doing it all, but with other tasks that include multiple small steps, I might allocate different tasks to different times, checking each off as I accomplish it.

Stick to it. Allocating specific times for each task, as described in the step above, is the first step in doing this. Blocking out times for each action step is like making an appointment with yourself. If you're really serious about reaching your goal on time, you'll make the same effort to keep the appointments you set with yourself as you do to keep those you set with someone else. If you wouldn't skip a dinner date with a friend because you're tired, you owe yourself the same courtesy when it comes to the tasks you've put into your calendar.

Do I do this all the time? But of course...not. But when a goal is important, setting the proper course is just as important. Otherwise, you're likely to find yourself sitting by the side of the road, admiring those who made it to the finish line.

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