I was on the Air Europa flight back from Madrid sat with JC Duarte and Manuel Vidal-Quadras. At a certain point we watched as JC pulled up an impressive iPhone application that allows him to track his time. This led to a discussion about how to be effective with time. I feel that I am not effective with my time and can easily waste hours on the unimportant (facebook, searching for information on Wikipedia and reading 10 other interesting but not directly relevant web pages). I do however, tend to be good at achieving my goals. I know I could be a lot more effective, but keep myself to aim to achieve 3 important things each day.
I took some time to think about how I manage myself to achieve goals. I am interested in others’ strategys and tactics to effectively achieve the important things in their lives.
- Daydream & Visualise Benefits: I imagine myself in the future having accomplished the goal. I try to write a few words about this image. My top priority goal this year is write a book. I can see it available in all those airport bookshops that I pass on my travels. I am too good at this bit and can sometimes end up living in a future, better world rather than being truly present in the here and now.
- Be Realistic: This is where I need to work harder. I find it easy to imagine the benefits and to be optimistic about achieving them, but hard to be realistic about the obstacles that stand in the way; and getting down to systematically overcome these obstacles. I write two significant obstacles that will make it difficult to achieve the goal. Writing a book is a lonely process – I decided that I need to write 1000 words every day – and publish a blog post about once a week.
- Brainstorm: How can I overcome these obstacles? The benefits can only come about if I am serious about overcoming the obstacles. Is there a way to minimise the obstacles? How would someone else overcome these obstacles? If I can’t see how to overcome the obstacles I think it is better that I admit that I am not going to achieve the goal. I am not good at this. I want to believe I can be great at everything.
- Action plan: 9 years of Accenture means I can do this in my sleep. Break the goal down into actions – list the actions. Establish rewards for achieving significant progress points along the list of actions. Set dates. Write it down. I like the feeling of crossing out actions as I complete them (
like this). No online tool has ever given me the same satisfaction as a big blue line drawn through the text on the page. I have hired a coach to help me with the book. We have worked on a list of chapters – completing chapters is easier than completing the whole book in one go.
- Start: Just a few minutes right now.
- Public Commitment: I tell people that I will accomplish a goal. I just told you that I will write a book. I also want to give a speach to an audience of 5000 people one day. I want to take my daughter to Disneyland (haven’t decided Paris or Florida). I tell different people for different goals. I have some sports/fitness friends and they know that I will run a sprint triathlon this year. It would be better if I was able to let them know about the obstacles and how they could help (sometimes with a simple “come on man”; the swim is the big challenge for me in the triathlon). I attach a date to when I mean to achieve the goal. June 6 is the sprint triathlon. August is the book. I need to decide what is the best age for my daughter’s first Disney experience…
My current list of life goals is on the right panel of this blog.