Welcome back to the final post in my 4-part series on goal setting. The main point behind setting goals is to help us be more productive and to move forward on whatever path we choose. Today we’re talking about how to use plan and action to help you achieve your goals, as well as how to GROW your goals for maximum productivity.
Three Important Phases of Productivity
- Set a sensible GOAL
- Make a PLAN
- Take ACTION
Seeing your goal plan in written form will quickly tell you if you’re setting sensible goals and how to take action on them.
Many of us are able to keep track in our heads of what we need to do, but in my experience and in the experience of many of my clients, this can be a flawed method because we aren’t able to fully visualize the gaps in our process. And trust me, there will be gaps. They are usually camouflaged, short breaks in our day. Unless you’re intentional with your schedule, these gaps are typically filled with social media, video games, or mindless television.
Writing out your day, hour to hour—and highlighting all the random time gaps within—will help you plan your schedule. Maybe you have a twenty-minute window in the afternoon and that would be a perfect chance to change the sheets on the bed (if you’re interested in being more efficient with housework). Or a great opportunity to conduct research for your historical fiction (if you find that you often get caught in a time warp when you research, which ultimately spills over into your precious writing time).
I use old-fashioned paper and pen to figure out what my schedule looks like, but there are plenty of digital options available.
You might think, just because you set a goal, you’re golden, but unfortunately, because many times we try to achieve the wrong goals we find ourselves stuck in a hamster wheel.
One of the things I do with my clients is goal assessments, to see where they think they are on their journey and where they really are. It’s an interesting study in how our real-world and creative selves work together.
Again, in my practice, it comes down to natural writing forces: understanding the conditions where you work and create to your fullest potential. It is my position that it’s pointless to set goals or even create a goal plan unless you know how you’re going to put them into action—and the only way to know that is if you know how you’ll respond to Life’s curve balls.
In my second post of this series, I shared a graphic with you that illustrated the difference between valley goals and summit goals.
Those summit goals are what we should be striving for every day–with the crucial understanding that we will not be able to achieve all of our summit goals every single day.
That said, striving for a summit goal means that you are working in the range of productivity—and that is what we need to focus on. As long as you’re in that range, then you are getting things done. This should be considered a fulfilling day. We are more successful in achieving our basic, ordinary goals (valley goals) when we turn them into something bigger, more profitable (summit goals).
But now I want to add a plot twist here. Summit goals should never be considered the end of the line. Imagine that your summit goal is to get published. That’s a fantastic summit goal, and one that would probably be ongoing, something you continually strive for over a span of months, right?
Okay, well, what will you do when you hit this summit goal? You’re published, baby!
Exactly! You have to DO something with that win for it to MEAN something
This is where goal evolution comes into play. No goal should stand alone. Every goal should have meaning attached to it, an opportunity, an unexpected surprise, a fork in the road—something that leads you to your next step. Your next goal. Your next life’s chapter.
The point here is that you want to set goals that have the potential to drive you forward on your quest. Setting goals with the objective of only that goal will keep you from seeing the realm of possibility.
I am all too familiar with the time suckage of social media, the overwhelm of to-do lists, and the constant game of catch-up. Not too long ago, I was hopelessly buried beneath a tremendous, stressful and painful burden of chores, projects, doubt, obligations, duties, fear, and noise.
The low point was when I started thinking I should just give up, because I clearly wasn’t woman enough to handle everything thrown at me.
But you know what, I’d made that choice before and I can’t say it’s a particularly healthy one. So instead, I went inward. Took some time to shut out the noise and ask myself probing questions that got to the heart of what it was I wanted to DO with my life.
The answer was crystal clear, and from there a plan emerged, as poignant and fragile as a spring bud. Seemed to me that I needed to go on the offensive, rather than constantly dodging and shifting and avoiding. Kick my writing dream into reality, right? Many, many rounds of self-examination, trial and error, and curve balls followed.
This is how I discovered and learned to apply my natural writing forces. Goal setting and goal achievement was a picnic in a park thereafter.
I hope you enjoyed the series on Marching Toward Goal Achievement! To read the previous installments, check them out here:
Post #1- How to Set Strategic Goals
Post #2 – Why Do Some Goals Fail?
Post #3: How to Create a Goal Schedule