Frequently the immediate and urgent priorities of the day prevent us from making real progress towards the goals we care about most.
We get caught in an operational loop, reacting and firefighting, rather than taking the daily steps required for long term success.
This practical article introduces a simple process that guarantees meaningful advancement towards important and long term goals, while taking care of the day to day needs of your customers, employees and family.
Let’s look at To Do Lists.
When we write a `to do’ list it feels good and can be beneficial because:
- It organises our thoughts and declutters our mind.
- We identify the priority actions that must be taken in relation to our goals.
- We don’t forget about important tasks.
- We determine the day/weeks priorities
5 Reasons they can hinder progress and productivity towards your goals:
- They’re often tasks related to immediate or short-term priorities, so we may never take the small and necessary steps towards a longer-term goal.
Having cleared today’s priorities we feel productive, but we fail to take daily action towards a longer-term goal that we really care about, which moves progressively out of reach.
- Since they often have an unlimited number of tasks, our list can become a `brain dump’, rather than a well thought out, clearly defined set of priorities that support your short and long-term objectives.
- The language `To Do List’ or `Task List’ creates a mental image of ticking boxes. If this becomes the main focus and measure of your day, you may miss out on doing something more fulfilling and meaningful, such as spending time building a closer relationship with a colleague, or customer.
- We may complete the easiest/quickest items on the list, putting off anything that’s challenging until it becomes urgent.
- They’re usually not categorised or prioritised so an important client commitment could be on the same list as ‘drop off dry cleaning.’
There is a way we can clear our mind, create focus and intention on the things that matter today and 12 months from now.
Replace your To Do List with 3 Impactful Intentions
At the end of every day, sit quietly and focus on your long-term goal, bringing the reality of this goal to the forefront of your mind. See it as if it is already achieved.
Next, think of 3 actions you can complete the following day that will move you closer to your goal. The scope and scale of the action is not important, baby steps are fine.
We are looking for daily progress.
We call these goal-achieving actions. They must be clearly defined and take you one step further towards your goal.
Write them down, sign and date the commitment.
At the end of the day, check them off and do the exercise again in preparation for the following day.
We frequently put off taking any action on something we want in the future, thinking that we need to carve out enough time to make a real impact.
Think about it!
3 actions towards your long-term goal each day is 15 per week and 60 per month.
If you have a project you want to progress in addition to your day job, doesn’t it immediately feel more achievable?
In relation to your work or business goals, we frequently get caught up in what Stephen Covey calls The Whirlwind. Daily important and urgent tasks will always come before our strategic long-term goals. The result? We get to the year end and feel frustrated at the lack of progress towards the things we know will contribute most to your personal growth and the continued success of our business or the company.
To progress a personal and a professional goal, I’d suggest creating 3-Impactful Intentions for your personal goal and 3 Impactful Intentions for your current role/business.
How and why is this different to a traditional Action Plan or To Do List?
- Language is important. The word `Task’ infers a chore or imposition and feels somewhat mundane. `Impactful Intentions’ implies a level of impact, decisiveness, energy and clarity.
- Articulating your Impactful Intentions into `Goal-Achieving Actions’ reminds you that the intentions you create must link to your goal.
- They are directly connected to your goal so advancement towards your ambition is guaranteed, rather than left to chance.
- They can be completed in addition to your other important daily tasks.
What if you miss?
If you compete 2 actions out of 3, carry the outstanding action over to the following day.
My husband is 35 days into a 90-day Spin challenge. He will complete a 600-calorie spin workout every day for 90 days.
The challenge he created permits him 3 misses and 3 carry overs. In a 90-day period he is permitted to miss 3 sessions completely and on 3 occasions he is allowed to miss a day and double up later.
You may wish to structure your Impactful Intentions in a similar way, allowing yourself 3 carry overs in a 30-day period.
The level of discipline is yours to decide and control.
Forget waiting for a respite from the number of urgent, daily tasks. When did that last happen?
If you want to make big significant progress in any area of your life, you must think and take action, beyond what’s right in front of you.
You will be surprised how impactful this simple habit can be.
It helped me change careers and it’s helping me power my successful Personal Development Business. Good luck. Let me know if this helps.