How to Achieve Your Goals

Cessna CitationIt’s the weekend and time to take a few minutes to catch your breath and decide how you’re going to attack next week.

This Cessna Citation is owned by a friend of mine. He wasn’t born rich. He’s from a working class family in a Midwestern suburb just like most of middle America. But he’s one of the most focused people I know. This jet and his ability to fly it are a testament to his ability to set clear goals and remaining focused on them.

You achieve your goals by first having some. If you don’t, read no further. Go to a quite place, set some (more on this in a later post), write them down then come back here.

I’m going to show you a simple weekly planning and review process that will help you reach your goals. It looks almost too easy. But I guarantee you that my friend with the jet and successful other people do this or something similar as a matter of routine.

The reason for this process is that we tend to get lost in the weeds during the turmoil of the work day. So it’s vital to to step back into your personal manager role to remind yourself of your goals, capture any loose ends from the previous week and plan how you’re going to use the following week to get you closer to where you want to be.

Do this every week. Print it out or paste it into a recurring Outlook Task scheduled for late every Friday afternoon:

  1. Review Your Goals and related projects one at a time to evaluate status and outcomes. Generate at least one action item for each. Keep your goals in mind as you capture and schedule tasks for the following week. Tasks that drive your goals should be higher priority than those that don’t.
  2. Collect Everything (Loose Papers, notes, scraps, bar napkins, sticky notes…everything that needs to be someplace else) and put them into your in basket. Process those items using the 4-Ds (just like incoming e-mail).
  3. Process your notes. Review all meeting and miscellaneous notes. Schedule all open action items, things due from others, calendar items, and, project tasks. File any reference material.
  4. Review Previous Calendar Data, Daily Task Pads or To-Do Lists for missing action items and create tasks for them in Outlook or your planner. Make sure nothing from previous week is un-captured.
  5. Review Upcoming Calendar to capture action items and prepare for upcoming events.
  6. Schedule your Priorities! – Block out time to work on high priority activities (do the important things first). Outlook users, use the 5 Work Week Calendar View to facilitate this process.
  7. Think. Take some time in a quite place without a phone or computer to kick back and think. Capture any ideas, thoughts or action items.
  8. Go enjoy yourself, it’s the weekend after all. You’ll feel better because you’ve dealt with any open issues (they won’t nag you all weekend now) and planned your next week. You’ll be flying your own Citation in no time.

This is the cliff note version, but you get the idea. Make a commitment to doing this every Friday without fail for the next three months. Let me know how it works.