Time to Evaluate: Three Tools to Achieve Straggling New Year’s Goals
It’s hard to believe that Q2 is done and we’re halfway through 2017. As I look back on the first six months of the year, they’ve been very good. Have I hit all of my goals? Certainly not – but I’ve reached the ones that were most urgent and critical. The one goal that I did not reach, that was important but not urgent, was to write more regularly, develop my blogging skills, and post articles to our website. The first half of my year has fallen short in this aspect, but there is still plenty of time to get back on track.
In order to center my thinking on measuring and achieving goals, I reread the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution by McChesney, Covey, and Huling. Below are a couple of simple things that, when implemented, can seriously help to readjust your thinking and help you (and me!) hit our targets:
- Be aware of the whirlwind: I love the metaphor of a daily “whirlwind” because it captures what happens to us if we’re not very conscious about getting the things done that matter. It’s easy to busy ourselves and react to the chaos of the day-to-day. It’s far more challenging to have the discipline to ensure you get the big things done first, before focusing on the other items. For me, I find the easiest way to stick to my daily priorities is to separate my “to-do list” from my major projects and always work on the big things (in order of importance) first.
- Act on lead measures: Just a quick refresher on lagging and leading measures. A lag measure tells you if you achieved your goal. Lag goals (and measures) define what you want to achieve, your end game. Examples include reaching sales targets, implementing a CRM system, losing 10 pounds, or, in my case, producing blogs for the month. One of the problems with lag goals is their retrospective nature – you either hit your target or you did not. Lead goals and measures, however, define what we can act on and proactively help us work to achieve our goals. Here’s two leading measures that I came up with to help my goal of writing and blogging more: 1) Identify two blog ideas per week and then capture them on my scorecard. That’s eight ideas or topics per month, and so when it’s time to write I select a couple from the list. 2) Schedule a 90-minute block of time on Fridays to write. Use the first 60 minutes to write, then use the remaining 30 minutes for editing. After 90 minutes of time, I post. By implementing these lead goals, the previously daunting task of “maintain my blog” seems far more manageable and actionable.
- Measure your progress with a simple scorecard: My last takeaway from the book was to post leading measures in a place that is visible, and to measure progress frequently – in my case weekly. High visibility and measurability helps you to keep on track and stay focused on the task ahead.
So here’s my challenge to you: review your goals from the beginning of the year, and select one that is really important to you but for some reason you’ve not been able to accomplish. Pick only one and update your goal to reflect what you want to accomplish by 12/31. Then, think of at least two leading goals that will affect your end game goal. Develop a way to measure those leading goals and place them in a visible place, then take your eye off the lagging goal and relentlessly execute on, and measure, the leading goals. My guess is you’ll be amazed with the progress you can make!