A new year means new goals. Unfortunately for me, it also usually means a bunch of broken resolutions just a couple weeks later. No matter how motivated I am to make a change, life gets busy and in the way, and I forget my goals. Even our departmental ambitions that we spent hours discussing quickly turn into nothing more than a poster on the wall.
That was true until I tried these three methods that changed how I approach goals. Suddenly, I was making real progress on long-term priorities despite the fires that popped up. Using these strategies in your own goal planning can bring real change and results that so often eluded me.
Seinfeld to the Rescue – Don’t Break the Chain
Back when Jerry Seinfeld was on the road doing standup each night, a fellow admiring comic asked him how he was able to write so many jokes. Jerry responded that he put a giant calendar on a wall in his home. Each day he spent time writing, he would put a giant ‘X’ in for that day on the calendar. After a few days, he’d have a chain of ‘X’s. He’d be proud of that chain, and Jerry would do everything he could to not “break the chain.”
You can easily implement this at home or at work. Just print out a calendar, decide on what qualifies as giving yourself an ‘X’, and then post that calendar in a place where you and others can easily see it. This method has helped me hold morning huddles with my team even when we’re busy, update dashboards even though the task is time-intensive, and go to the gym even though it’s freezing cold outside.
Links to Learn More:
Habit Streak Plan Puts Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret on Android – a free Android app that helps you not break the chain
Do More by Focusing on Daily 3+2 Priorities
Each morning, I used to list everything I was planning to get done that day. My list would usually be 20 or 30 lines long – and I wouldn’t even get close to working on half of the items. Worse still, I often needed to follow up on the ten things I had worked on over the next several days to actually get the results I needed. In trying to do everything, I wasn’t getting nearly enough done over the long run, even though I felt good checking off so many boxes on my daily To Do list. That’s when an article on 3+2 saved me.
Being honest with myself, I realized that I can only really accomplish about three big tasks and two small tasks in a normal workday. By focusing on the top five priorities and really nailing them in one day, I could then take on five more tomorrow. Even though I was marking off fewer checkboxes throughout the day, I had a much longer list of accomplishments at the end of the week. Holding myself accountable to just those three big and two small tasks let me actually make progress on my goals and more quickly improve our company’s operations.
Links to Learn More
Craft Your Average Perfect Day
I have set many ambitious goals that I’ve quickly forgotten. Somehow, what I do each day just doesn’t translate to progress on those objectives. However, I have also learned that some of my goals don’t quite fit with what I actually want to accomplish each day. So to make and keep better goals, I like to use the Average Perfect Day method.
What is your perfect day? Not a vacation or winning the lottery, but a realistic perfect day that could potentially repeat itself again and again. Would you hit the gym in the morning? Meet with your team in the morning? Spend an hour on a long-term goal for the company? Recognize the achievements of others? Write a process or automate a report?
Mapping out a template of what my average perfect day looks like quickly helps me realize how I can make small changes to reach that ideal schedule. It also helps me plan goals in a concrete manner, which means I can make more progress on them.