I suspect that nearly every household has a hammer laying around in a drawer or hanging on a peg board somewhere. A hammer is perhaps the most common hand tool and yet, few people actually know how to use one effectively. In fact, almost 50,000 people a year get injured wielding a simple hammer. Seeing a master carpenter work a hammer is something to behold. Tap, Tap, Bang! and a nail is set perfectly. The sad thing is that almost anyone can wield a hammer like a pro with just a few simple tips.
So why am I talking about hammers? Because just as hammers are one of the most basic and poorly used tools for constructing something, so too are goals for constructing the life you want and achieving your deepest desires. Earlier in the week, Allyson wrote a great post on strategic goals setting. She equipped everyone who read that article with the tool called goals. In today’s post, I will teach you how to wield those goals like a master craftsmen, so you can nail achievement every time.
First, Don’t shrink the think on your action steps. My biggest mistake when I first started writing goals was thinking hard about the goal, but spending far too little time on the action steps needed. I would hastily write down three or four action steps, but little more.
Mentally dig deep on action steps. Consider the time, resources, people, skill sets, knowledge etc. that you need to achieve success. Write as much down as you possibly can. Writing pushes clarity. Clarity pushes action. Action (when purposeful) creates achievement.
Second, schedule action steps and deadlines. Once your action steps are defined IMMEDIATELY SCHEDULE two things: your first action step for each goal and any deadlines. Doing so drives action. Notice that deadlines is plural. Do not only set a deadline for your goal, but also set deadlines for each action step. An action step without a deadline is an invitation to procrastination and future disappointment. Don’t let that happen to you–schedule.
Third, anticipate obstacles. Action steps almost never go as planned. For example, someone misses a critical deadline, an emergency slashes your time in half, or a your budget is completely off base. These aren’t anomalies. That’s life. However, people tend to idealize the path toward their goals and then when life interrupts (as it is prone to do), they suddenly bemoan their fate, shake their fist at the universe or just give up. Save yourself a whole lot of grief and bypass an unproductive pity party by accepting the fact that obstacles, mistakes and mishaps are going to happen. You can’t control those, you can however control your response. Respond productively.
Fourth, realize that sometimes you are the obstacle. Hitting your thumb and bending nails is part of hammering, and unfortunately, there is no one to blame but you when that happens. Ask yourself the following questions if you are stuck:
How might I be the problem?
Am I getting in my own way?
Do I have personal limitations of time, knowledge, or skill that are keeping me from moving forward?
Do I have habits or mindsets limiting my achievement?
For example, I realized about a year ago that many of my projects were stymied by the fact that I was perpetually trying to do everything myself. A conscious effort to delegate and outsource is exponentially expanding my effectiveness.
Lastly, adopt an attitude that failure is not an option. Commit. The dividing line between people who realize goals and those who do not is often nothing more than a determination to do whatever it takes.
So, there you have it…five simple keys to help you nail your goals like a pro: Dig deep on planning action steps, schedule steps AND deadlines, anticipate obstacles, admit when you are the obstacle, and don’t allow for failure to be an option.
Wishing you greater productivity and meaning,
p.s. Additional tip: If you are currently using The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner, take 7 minutes right now to review your goals. How many action steps do you have scheduled?