Make Today Successful

A friend of mine was recently working on a project and had let the upcoming completion date be a high source of stress. Deadlines can cause stress. Stress can prevent us from achieving the success we desire. My friend eventually worked through their stress and met the deadline for their project. Hidden in her story is a great little lesson.

Do today, what is most important today. If every day you do what is most important, tomorrow will take care of itself. She was able to meet her project deadline because she made a point to get done today the requirements that needed to be done today for the project. Having a longer term plan, but a short term focus can eliminate the stress.

Check your to-do-list. If it looks the same every day, never changing, then do something different. For a week, forget your to-do-list. Instead, define the most important thing (or two or three) to accomplish today. Use this focus to break through the to-do-list stagnation. Build momentum towards a larger goal.

Action is a strong deterrent to stress. I have coached many people that have missed deadlines because they put off taking action. A large project is accomplished through small meaningful actions accumulated over many days. If you can define the action that needs to be done today, and you achieve that action, a large project becomes manageable. If you can take action every day, you will feel the stress fade.

When you think of your biggest goal, what is the action you need to take today?

What Do You Want to Achieve?

What Christina Aguilera said is true, “The roughest roads often lead to the top.” Achievement takes work, perseverance, and desire in some magical combination. This week I captured some thoughts about achievement.

1. Achievements fade over time. The importance of an achievement is highest at the time of achievement. It is the culmination of the time and effort spent. Afterwards, the effect is diminished. As a plant manager I monitored cost, delivery, quality, safety, and employee engagement among many other metrics. All of these accomplishments were important, but the importance was reduced the next month, because I had a new target. At times I found myself too focused on this month’s target that I missed bigger opportunity.

2. Define your own goals. Most of my working life I was given goals by my boss or the company directors. The goals that meant more to me and my team were goals that we created. When I challenge myself, I am more likely to find a way to reach the goal. I will also learn more and enjoy the process more.

3. Understand why. Blindly following goals that you don’t understand can be very frustrating. When I could embrace the reason for the target, it was much easier to get the team working together.

4. Have fun with what is important. The achievements I remember most are the ones that were fun to complete. Work can be enjoyable with the right team. If you can make your goals fun, it is easier to spend your time working towards them.

For me, I found accomplishments to be important milestones but they are not as important as the journey to achieve them.

How You Can Become Excited About Your Goals

We respond differently to goals, because we have different preferences in how we interact with the world. You can become more excited and motivated to achieve your goals if you can tap into your own preferences.

Allow me to generalize a few typical scenarios that are triggered based on preferences. See if any of these are similar to how you react to goals.

Challenge – You like to win. You are energized by getting things done first, and doing them your way. The rules are not as important as achieving the goal.

Cooperation – You like to work with others. You are energized by the relationships you develop through collaboration. Urgency to finish is less important than to make sure the team is working together, an using everyone’s talents.

Structured – You enjoy developing a detailed plan. You are energized by following your plan and having regular reviews that reveal your progress. You enjoy working on a team when everyone fulfills their role according to the plan.

Exploration  – You enjoy understanding the purpose of the goal. You are energized by evaluating various methods to achieve a goal, and the potential impact of various outcomes. You like to strategize about options.

All of these responses can be situational, and many times you are driven by more than one. If you can discover your most natural inspiration you can restructure your goals to increase your motivation.

If you like challenge, then find another person with whom you can compare results. If you wanted to increase your exercise time, you will be more motivated by comparing your results with someone else. Create a specific challenge that you both agree upon. For example, be the first to run fifty miles each month, or running the most miles in a month.

If you can unlock the combination that best fits your personality, you can make achieving any goal easier. I hope this helps you develop a better plan for setting goals in 2018.

 

Discovering Inspiration

The past few weeks I have been working with my church for a program called Angel Tree. We deliver Christmas gifts to children from a parent that is in prison. I woke up one morning intrigued about the level of gratification I felt from being involved.

I have helped with this program for a few years, and I will help again next year. Why? Because I am motivated to do so.

I have been contemplating what factors have led me to this level of commitment. If I can define them, will I be able to apply them to other activities? Can I use them to increase my motivation for another goal?

I have discovered many factors that have impacted my inspiration, my commitment, and my gratification.

1. Helping others – I am driven by the ability to help others. Doing something without reward is usually not motivating. However if other people are able to reap the reward of my effort, and I am able to participate in the process, it is highly rewarding.

2. Personal impact – I am emotionally impacted by the gratitude expressed by those we serve. It drives me to want to do the best I can to meet their needs.

3. Supports by my core values – We all have gaps between who we want to be and who we actually are. Just like we have differences between our intentions and our actions. The role with Angel Tree helps me close my gap.

4. Sense of urgency – Each year the time between receiving information on the children in the program and delivering gifts is short. It creates urgency, and a fixed timeline to which we are committed.

5. Effort – The amount of effort I need to invest to support the program is known in advance. Each year, I know approximately the number of hours and days to schedule.

6. Supported by othersThe program is supported by a team of volunteers. I would never be able to achieve the goal by myself.

7. Accountability – People are counting on me. My assigned tasks assigned are only going to be done by me. My actions affect the team. My actions affect our success.

8. Clear Goal – We must deliver gifts to the assigned children before Christmas. Our goal is clear. There are hundreds of obstacles, but the desired outcome is unmistakable.

9. Personal growth – I grow from being involved. Each year the challenges we face are different. Usually unique to a family we are serving. Overcoming challenges is the basis for growth.

The next step for me is to discover how I can connect these factors to a different goal. For the last couple of years, I have wanted to exercise more. I go through periods of success and then allow myself to drift away. It has been clear as I reflected this week, that these factors are not linked to my goal for exercising.

If I can establish the links, I think my outcome would be very different. That is my challenge. What challenge do you have that can benefit from discovering your inspiration?