When we talk about improving our productivity, we usually refer to getting today’s work done promptly. Our focus is generally on the day, or week, ahead. But we should also be looking longer term in our personal as well as professional growth. That is why it is important to establish goals.
In a perfect world, how do you see yourself in five years? Is there something you want to accomplish or learn? Do you want to visit someplace new, learn a new language, or start a new career?
Companies set a goal like this as an outcome of their strategic plan. So it makes sense that you also need to think strategically about your future. If you don’t take personal responsibility for your future, no one else will. If you want to achieve something in the next five years, what is your plan to achieve your goal? Building those small steps into your regular planning sessions will allow you to make progress. If you don’t consider your strategy regularly, you will probably have the same success as keeping your New Year’s resolutions.
The first step is to write down your goal. Cheryl Travers, Ph.D., a professor at the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, England, has researched the importance of committing your goal to paper. “The act of writing something down seems to make us accountable to a goal,” Travers says. “It also helps people to write their way through a problem when they encounter barriers.”
Some goals don’t need elaborate strategies. For example, if your goal is to work out every morning, it might require you only to set your alarm an hour earlier than usual. On the other hand, if you want to start volunteering at a non-profit, it means you need an action it’s on your to-do list to contact the group and set up a meeting.
A more complex goal, such as learning a new language, might require a strategy with several action steps. Things like investigating a class you can take, finding out when and where the class meets, sign up, showing up, and practicing. Each of these items should be written down and added to your “to-do” list.
Set specific deadlines. Give yourself one week to research the class you want to take. At the end of the week, celebrate your success. If you haven’t made progress, force yourself to contemplate why.
When you achieve your goal, reward yourself. For example, learning a new language may justify a trip where you can use your new found talent.
You will find that the more you achieve, the more confident you will be, and you will be willing to take on new challenges.
How will you make the time to achieve your goals? One way is to manage your time efficiently. That is a constant theme of my online course “Pathway to Productivity and Time Management.” The course, which you can take at your own pace, offers advice based on research tested methods. Find out how you can solve your productivity issues HERE.