In the previous article, we discussed how determining your core values allows you to figure where things fall in order of priority in your life. Okay, now that we’ve got that the next question is how do you fit all the things you have to do in the run of a day into your life so that they live up to your core values? Here two powerful items come into play: Goals and Priorities. Goals are where you ultimately want to end up, the destination on your life map. Priorities are your means of getting there, your vehicle, so to speak. All your priorities are the things you should be doing at this moment in time to get you moving toward your goals the fastest way possible. First, let’s talk about goal setting.
You can, and should, have several goals. Each one will cover different areas of your life and should always be geared toward making you and your life better. They can be physical, like running a marathon. They could be spiritual, like drawing closer to God. Or maybe you have a financial goal, like accumulating enough money in the bank to retire. Goals are limitless and only confined by your imagination. But how big should your goals be?
Goals should be BIG. I’m talking moon shot big! Goals need to make you stretch and grow. They need to make you struggle and change and get uncomfortable. Those are the only goals worth having. But keep in mind that they need to be realistic and attainable. If your goal is to figure skate in the Olympics and you’ve never skated before and you’re over the age of 30, that’s probably not a realistic goal. But once you have a goal in mind, write it down. Then we need to reverse-engineer it. What do I mean?
Reverse-engineering your goal means taking it and working it backwards in time to today. Let’s take the example of retiring to a Caribbean island. That’s a big goal. So ask yourself, where do I need to be in 5 years to make sure I’m on track to supporting that ultimate goal? Maybe it means being debt-free. So that’s your 5-year goal. But being debt-free probably means upping your income. So maybe your one-year goal is to have a thriving side-business that boosts your income. Now, how do you get there? Hmmm, maybe in 6 months you need to be starting that business. That’s your 6-month goal. A good one-month goals in support of that would be maybe filing a business license for a dba. Before that though, you need to know what kind of business you want to start, what legal entity should you use and how viable will it be. So a good one week goal would be to determine the kind of business you would like to start. But what can you do today to support that goal? Today, you could read one article, or buy a book to read that relates to starting a successful business.
See how we deconstructed that and arrived at the one thing you should be doing today to ensure that you ultimately arrive at your goal? Try this powerful tool, it works. Studies support the fact that those who are most likely to reach their goals are the ones who write them down and have a plan to get them.
Keep in mind though that the difference between a dream realized and a mere wish is action! And the only person who can perform that action is you. Your actions must be your priorities, which are in turn aligned with your goals. The key thing to keep in mind here when determining your priorities out of all the things you could be doing in a given day is asking yourself what is the one thing I should be doing right now to make sure I’m on track for my next goal? In the example we used above that would be reading something that will educate you about starting a business. If you’re not doing that now or haven’t done it already today then you’re doing the wrong thing. The next tool we discuss will make sure you are doing the things you should be doing at any given point in time.
Let’s now look at the power of the daily To-Do list and how it allows you to set your priorities. One thing that highly productive people share in common is they list the things they need to accomplish in a given day. The list is a simple yet powerful tool! It is a visible reminder of what you need to do and a powerful motivator as you cross off each task you accomplish. You too can use it to work wonders in your life. Think about all the things you need or want to do each day, then list them. In that list you will have both things you could be doing and things you should be doing.
Now look at the list. Of all the things on it, if you could only accomplish one thing in support of your goal, which would it be? Put the number ‘1’ next to it. Now look at the remaining items. If you could only do one of those in support of your goal, which would it be? Place the number ‘2’ next to that item. Repeat this process until all items have numbers next to them. Anything that most directly moves you toward your goals are the things you should be doing. Those take priority over the could be doings. Now, work your way through this list until you accomplish everything on it for the day.
If you fail to get to everything on the list, don’t worry. Just carry those items over to your list for the next day and finish it then. But always place emphasis on the things you should be doing in support of your goals. It’s that simple. You will be amazed at how much more productive you become when you work the list and make it a part of your daily routine. Now go tame that time monster and show it who’s boss!