Post your goals where you can see them! I learnt this from an Opera teacher in Sacramento.
What would she know about GTD and Six Sigma you might ask? Well, she gave me a framework that’s helped me manage conflicting goals. Here’s how it works.
How to post your goals where you can see them
It’s all about people. In other words, instead of thinking about goals in an abstract way, connect the goal to a person.
But does this person really exist? Not always. Read on and it’ll make sense.
Who are you helping?
The first thing we need to do is identify who will benefit. For example, running her opera meant that school-kids, opera lovers, and local businesses all benefited, as did the musicians of course. But you need to ‘zero in’ on one specific person (or group) otherwise it’s too abstract.
When I went into her office, she had cello-tapped to her PC small photos, mostly headshots. These were the people who would benefit from her next opera.
How does this work?
If you connect a goal to a person, it forms a type of ‘emotional glue.’ It’s harder to walk away. And the more you think about serving, helping, guiding this person, it seems the more you commit to your goal. You can see in your mind’s eye who you’ll be helping, which gets you through those difficult patches.
Goals v Targets – what’s the difference?
First, we need to define what determines a goal from, say a target? What’s the difference?
A goal is what you want to achieve
A target is the path you’re taking to get there.
Your goal is to run in the 10k marathon. It’s the WHAT. What do I want to do?
Your target is to run 3k twice a week. It’s the HOW. How can I get there?
In other words, targets serve goals.
Whose life will I make easier, more comfortable,
Christian Fisher explains the difference between goals and targets.
“Business goals are written parts of a long-term vision detailing what results your company aims to accomplish and by what deadline. Targets are similar but can be considered smaller steps aligned with the details and deadlines of larger goals.” smallbusiness.chron.com
How do identify goals?
Next, we identify the goals from the perspective of other people, not us.
- What will they lose, for example, financially, if you don’t reach this target?
- What domino effect will this have on their education, happiness, quality of life?
- Who has told you this is important, for example, customer complaints?
John Haydon explains that “Writing down your goals increases the likelihood of success.”
Flying Solo reminds us that “success is the culmination of our goals; however, just because you might achieve your goals doesn’t mean you’ll ultimately feel successful.”
Document your goals
Bree Vreedenburgh, the founder and principal of BV International, suggests we “Write down your most pressing financial goals,”
Rachel Hartman at blog.intuit.com reminds us to: Schedule the BIG things in your calendar.
Bruce Mayhew suggests ”A best practice is to take your upcoming schedule and block off “personal time and vacations” before your schedule becomes booked. Then, stick to your commitments. If you won’t invest in yourself, who will?
How to get started
- Identify targets – decide which goals are the most important.
- Prioritize – some goals needs to be addressed immediately, for example, improve the quality of a specific product.
Using MS Outlook to workflow your goals
- In your email software, for example, MS Outlook:
- Use filters to send all emails related to this task to a specific folder.
- Setup alerts in Outlook.
- Setup a ‘meeting’ with yourself.
- Use your calendar to perform checkpoints. How close am I to achieving this goal?
- Use your phone to remind your goals
On your phone
- Send yourself a text but DON’T answer it. This way it will stand out from the other text messages demanding attention and serving as a reminder.
- Setup physical reminders in the kitchen.
- Use post it notes. Paste these on the edge of your laptop.
- Cut out photos – h/t Jennifer – of your customers. Keep these next to your PC to act as reminders. This is the person I’m trying to help.
- Surround yourself with books to remind you about this over-arching task. Take the books away when you’re finished.
- Tune into a station that in some way reminds you of what you want to achieve.
- Setup reminders in the car.
Keep a notepad in the drawer next to the driver seat. Scribble down ideas as they come to you – bot while driving of course.
On the web
- Change your homepage to Google Calendar. Why? Every time you log in, it reminds you on your tasks for that day.
- Color code the tasks. Red for High Level and so on.
- Print out the weekly calendar.
- Keep it in your kitchen. Why the kitchen? It’s probably the most trafficked room in the house. Put is somewhere you can’t avoid. Replace it every week.
- Print out the Agenda. This list of tasks can be helpful if you like – and I do! – the satisfaction of crossing off another task I’ve completed. I keep this next to my PC so I don’t have to go hunting.
- Create mini tasks that drive the main task forward.
Tip: The point here is to get things out of your head and into the calendar. Then you can relax mentally. Trying to remember things, especially, if you’re running a family and a business wears you out. Instead, get it down on paper and schedule it. Then you can forget it! At least for a while.
I don’t know why but sometimes it’s easier to do things for other people that yourself.
Photo of Lego Opera Singer