Defining the Next Action to Take Creates Goal Achievement Inertia
Honestly, I’m not very good at goal setting because I enjoy the free flowing nature of life more than I used to. However, I can assure you that if I really want to get something done setting a goal works. For example, I’ve been working on something for our firm with no deadline or goal attached to it. When one of my colleagues asked me when I hoped to have the “something” done, I was speechless. I realized I hadn’t set a goal with a specific deadline. Once I recovered from his questions I said “by September 30”. After that my behavior changed considerably. I put together a plan and worked the plan to achieve the goal by September 30. There were some obstacles along the way but I stayed focused on my goal and I achieved it.
A goal setting practice I learned from David Allen and “Getting Things Done” has also helped in achieving goals. Sometimes something seems too big and audacious (big hairy audacious goals – BHAG) to tackle so it’s mentally easier to just do a little here and a little there. What I’ve learned is if I can set the goal with a realistic outcome and deadline and define the next action to take it gets me started. The power of the notion of next action can really help you achieve forward progress.
Here’s an example. After facilitating a team development workshop I often have 25-30 flip charts to type up for my client. Really this isn’t much fun. I will leave the flip charts sitting around until I know I just need to get them done. However, something that has helped me achieve this goal is to define the next action. It could be as simple as organize the flip charts in the order I need to type them---it works.
I’ve also learned that writing down the chatter in my head is a good way to get focused and control direction. This is a simple one. Just take a piece of paper and write down everything that you are talking to yourself about. (We do all talk to ourselves don’t we?) You’ll be amazed at the relief this can give you mentally and the sense of accomplishment you can feel by just having it all on paper. Now you can organize and plan which can lead to more success.
I hope these few ideas about goals setting help you. I know in my journey of frustration, success and disappointments they have made me better.