Do you dread setting goals for the year? Are you a procrastinator? Do you function with 4-5 snooze buttons each morning? No…wait…that’s me!
Seriously though, many business professionals struggle with setting goals. In reality, it’s not setting goals that is the problem but it’s managing the tasks associated with succeeding at accomplishing the goals you set out to achieve.
What I needed to hear…
I recently talked to my wife about my goals for the new year. If you are anything like me, you probably don’t like criticism no matter who it comes from.
Yet, in times when you need to grow there seems to always be a shift in order to get momentum going. That shift is often one out of your comfort zone to your discomfort zone.
After hearing it straight, I had to agree. I was living too comfortable. Luckily, all our bills were paid and both of our businesses were profitable. Meaning, we could pay our liabilities and payroll and live on a salary.
Yet, we have some financial goals on the horizon. We have 3 kids going to college and retirement (although far enough away at age 48) will soon be something we are racing towards whether we like it or not.
Rock, Pebbles, Sand, and Water
Some time ago, a professor stood in front of his class with a large mayonnaise jar. He filled the jar with large pebbles and asked the class – “Is this full?”
Of course, the class said “Yes”. He then proceeded to fill the jar with pebbles among the cracks of the rocks in the jar. He asked again to the class – “Is this full?”
Then they said again, “Yes”. He then proceed to fill the jar with sand among the cracks of the pebbles and rocks.
He asked again to the class – “Now, is this full?”
Bewildered, the class responded “Yes” again. He then proceeded to fill the jar with water to the top. He asked finally to the class – “How about now? Is this full?”
What the professor is demonstrating is how we view time. The jar represents time. No matter who you are, rich or poor, diplomat, nobility, etc – we all have the same size jar.
So the items in the jar represent how we fill our day. At times, when you hear someone say “I don’t have enough time today”, you may be talking to someone that has filled their jar with rocks and thinks they don’t have any time left in their jar. When in reality, what seems like a full day is really not.
Additionally, there is still time for pebbles, sand and water. Which leads us to our further discussion on rocks. What we are going to learn is rocks are more important than pebbles, sand and water. Rocks are the goals we should be setting in each jar that should be taking up the majority of our time.
Using ROCKS to plan out your year
A gentleman by the name of Gino Wickman wrote a book called “Traction”. In it, he describes that to stay productive you need to start with the big things first.
When filling your day, start with the hardest or biggest items to knock off your list – your ROCKS. A word of advice, don’t make these BOULDERS! Rocks are achievable goals within a quarter.
Once you get those out of the way, you can move to the pebbles to fill in those gaps.
This not only applies to your daily planning but it should be applied to your weekly, monthly and quarterly goals.
Gino says that once you get the BIG things out of the way, everything else is easy.
“How productive are you? Do the worst first” – Brian Tracy
7 Things You Can Do To Set Your Goals
- Set your ROCKS
- Have clear goals
- Plan your day the night before
- Eliminate distractions
- Nurture yourself
- Get out of your comfort zone
- Use some tools to stay focused
1 – Set your goals
Don’t judge or dismiss your goal setting. Brainstorm and write down all that you want to achieve this year and each quarter with nothing else in mind. Quiet your inner voices that tell you that it’s not possible, or that you can’t do it.
Break these goals down into quarterly measurements. Now you can start listening to yourself as you define a timeline of when you think you can accomplish each one the goals you are setting in each period.
After that, start writing goals for your week that support each of those quarterly ROCKS you just put out there.
2 – Have clear goals
Procrastination is confusion
Having a clear set of instructions is key. You wouldn’t take off on a road trip or a family vacation without planning what road to take, what you need to bring with you, who is going to take care of the dogs, etc.
Clear goals is like drawing a map for the year. A visual of what you need to do each week to accomplish certain things you find valuable enough to go after.
3 – Plan your day the night before
It is so easy to just leave things for tomorrow. I am guilty of that. You know that feeling you had when you woke up in high school to remember that you had that term paper due and it was TODAY?
Panic and stress are hard on the body after a period of time. It takes a little more work and discipline but when you start to plan for your day in advance, often enough it will become a habit.
A good one at that! Your body and mind will start to crave the feeling of being prepared.
4 – Eliminate distractions
This is a hard one for me. I am a creative that does marketing and website design most of the day. I live on social media and the web and it becomes quite apparent the rabbit holes that live out there to suck our time away!
Take a hard look at the time you spend on your tasks. Now that I pay myself for what I do, I look at my time more closely. This is how most agencies lose money.
Be hard on yourself and limit the time-sucks out there and turn things off when you are in GO-MODE! So now, when I planned my day to cross a task off the list, I shut down the things that could possibly distract me and focus entirely on getting the project done.
5 – Nurture yourself
My son is a chef in a busy restaurant. He works close to 50 hours a week. He gets tired. You want to know what I tell him?
Start working out when you come home and eat better. Why?
Because if you don’t focus on staying active, eating healthy, and getting the rest you need, how are you going to deliver the quality work your boss or your clients are asking you to provide?
In order to do that, you have to think like an athlete. You are going to be running a race to reach your goals and it’s going to take a toll on your body after a while. If you haven’t trained and prepared for a marathon, in mile 5 or 6 you are going to lose momentum and that’s where most of us really feel the toll and pressure.
Think like an athlete and prepare for the race!
6 – Get out of your comfort zone
I started out with this post saying this was my number one problem and I still believe that. If you are comfortable pursuing your goal 2 things are going to happen. You are either not going to reach your goal due to lack of momentum or you are going to reach your goal much later in life than what you had planned, if at all.
For instance, saving for retirement is important to EVERYONE. Don’t you agree?
Are you comfortable enough to pay yourself 15% of your income BEFORE your take home pay?
If you want to see a retirement fund when it is all said and done, you will get uncomfortable and start saving. Maybe you are trying to lose weight. Have you ever tried just starving yourself. How far did that get you. Not far I am sure unless you were ill with the flu for a week and couldn’t keep anything down.
To lose weight you have to get uncomfortable and restrict certain foods and have portion controls. Pretty clear but very uncomfortable for some.
There are no shortcuts so get used to the idea that if you want something bad enough that is lofty or hard for many to achieve, you are going to have to get uncomfortable.
7 – Use some tools to stay focused
I love tech and gadgets. In today’s world, many of use are on computers and phones for a majority of the day. If this is you, this last section will make sense.
I use a couple of cheap and inexpensive tools to keep me focused and to help me plan may time and track my time.
Momentum Chrome Extension: There is free and paid version and if you are a Chrome user, it is very easy to use.
Trello: An awesome and free tool (paid version is well worth it!) for the visual people out there.
Hours: If you’re looking for an easy and inexpensive tool to track your time or your employees time check out this web service. It’s super easy to set up and the app on your iPhone is very easy and effective to use.
So there you have it folks. Let’s get the new year started with clear and concise goals that will give us momentum to reach our final destination. A wise man I know said to me years ago:
Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today.
P.S. Special thanks goes to my wife for supporting me everyday and having those tough conversations when I need them the most.