Do You Have Time for Goals?

In my last post I wrote about understanding the difference between being busy and being productive. I said that if you didn’t do at least one thing to get closer to a goal each day then you were not productive…not matter how busy you may have felt.

What that means of course is that if you don’t have goals then you can’t be productive. When I say “goals” I mean real goals. Concrete ones, written down with deadlines and plans for achievement.

It’s great to dream and say things like “someday I’ll do this” or “one day I’m doing to.” Except that someday and one day do not appear on a calendar. There is a minor league baseball team in town and the beer vendors all wear shirts that say “free beer tomorrow.” The problem is when tomorrow comes the free beer is still tomorrow.

That’s how it is with unwritten goals as well. The day you’re finally going to pursue them never arrives.

Specificity is key to successfully achieving goals. The more wiggle room you allow yourself the more likely it will be that you wiggle out of them.

Real goals are measurable. “I’m going to lose some weight” is not a goal. It is at best a wish. To make it a goal you must put some weight (pardon the pun) behind it. “I’m going to lose 2 pounds a week for the next 10 weeks” is a goal.

Real goals are actually attainable. There are several reasons that “I’m going to be the first man on the moon” is not an attainable goal. Well, maybe more than several, but the point is if your goal is so far-fetched that you have no chance of achieving it then it is more likely to leave you unmotivated. Plus, ALL the time you spent going after it is a complete waste.

Real goals are realistic. “I’m going to lose those 20 pounds this week” is a wee bit unlikely to happen. In fact it ain’t going to happen so it’s not even a good dream. Real goals must be completely within your control. Setting a goal to have your bosses job in a year is not realistic because too many factors are beyond your control.

First, your bosses job must open up. Second, your company must be looking at internal candidates, the list could go on and on.

A real goal would be one that says “over the course of the next year I’m going to do this, this, this and this in order to be the best possible candidate should my bosses position ever open up.

If all the “this, and this and this are within your control then you have a real goal and a much better chance of achieving it. The time you invest will be well worth the effort…even if you never do get your bosses job.

Real goals need a starting date. Writing down what time on that date you will start is even better. They need a FIRM date by which they will be achieved. The time of day on that date is equally important.

The most successful people have a good cross section of goals. Some are professional goals and some are personal. Their goals align with their values. They have financial goals, family goals, educational goals, career goals, spiritual goals, health goals and goals in any area of their lives they choose to focus on.

If you don’t have formal, real goals then let me ask you this: why do you do what you do?

Do you get up each day and go to work in order to make money to divide up between your creditors with the hope there’s some left over for you? Do you seem to have more bad days than good days? Are you frequently frustrated with what life is repaying you for your efforts? Do you constantly have this feeling that there’s more to life than you’re experiencing?

If you answered yes to even some of those questions then it is likely that you are more busy than you are productive. You’re using your 1440 minutes each day with little to show for it.

You CAN have all you want from life and have time left over to discover even more amazing parts of life. The key to unlocking all that is productively investing your time to pursue real goals.

Stop spending time on things that offer you little return. Invest your time in the pursuit of goals and have the life you truly want to have. 

Why It Always Feels Like You’re Short on Time

First we should be clear on one thing, just in case you have doubts. No one in the world has more time than you. You get 1440 minutes each day, no more and no less, exactly like everyone else.

The secret to having “more” time is making productive use of those 1440 minutes.

Sometimes we do things because we like doing them. We are not concerned with getting a return on our investment of time. That’s okay, we all do that sometimes. The difference is, the most successful people know they are doing it. They are okay with making the trade of valuable time to do something solely for personal enjoyment.

That’s called relaxation and I’ve been told it’s actually good for you.

Less successful people do that too and that’s not the problem. The problem is that they don’t distinguish between busy and productive. That means all of their 1440 minutes is available for doing whatever they like. They may convince themselves that if they are busy then they are also productive but they are two very different things. It’s also the primary reason they always feel short on time.

Being busy spends time. You may work incredibly hard all day but at the end of the day you have a hard time placing your finger on exactly what you accomplished. You also can’t clearly articulate why what you were trying to do needed to be done. That’s not a very rewarding feeling.

Being productive invests time. You don’t work any harder than the busy person but at the end of the day you can point to exactly what you accomplished. You can see how your efforts from the day got you closer to one of your goals and that’s a very rewarding feeling. It energizes you to be even more productive the next day.

Which brings us to the real key to having more time. That key is goals.

I submit to you that if you don’t do something to get closer to a goal each day, either personal or professional, then you are not productive. No matter how busy you may be.

If you’re busy all the time and still never seem to get much accomplished then it will always feel as if you’re short on time. In fact, since you’re not able to point to anything tangible that you’ve accomplished there will never be enough time. You will never have enough time until you realize that you’re spending your time instead of investing it.

So you NEED goals. I can virtually guarantee that if you’re always feeling short on time that you do not have a formal goal setting process in place. How many things do you do each day that are urgent? How many of those urgent things are actually important? How many of them don’t need to be done at all?

How many things do you do frequently that offer you absolutely no return for the use of your time? Unless you’re consciously doing those things for relaxation (which I would argue is a great return on the use of your time) they don’t need to be done.

So it appears my next post needs to be about setting attainable goals. That will help you get more done and still have time left over to invest in pure, guiltless relaxation.

Now you…and me, know what my next post will focus on.

A Plan for Life

Research shows that the average person will spend 40 hours planning a two-week vacation. That is 40 hours more then they invest in planning the rest of their lives.

Goals are the plan for your life.

Most everyone claims to believe that goals are important. Somewhere around 10% of those people actually have goals that are written down. A very small handful of that 10% have a formal plan for how they intend to achieve those goals.

If you’re in that vast majority of people who don’t have a formal goal achieving plan then I have some shocking news for you. YOU are an unproductive person!

If you didn’t do something to intentionally get closer to at least one of your goals today then no matter how busy you may feel you were not productive. That means that if you don’t have formal goals along with a written plan on how you’re going to achieve them then you cannot be productive…not matter how busy you might be.

But having true goals and a plan to achieve them goes way beyond making you productive. True goals gives a purpose to everything you do. When your actions have purpose then your life has passion. If you’ve ever felt as if you’re sleepwalking through life then you NEED true goals. If you not certain why you’re doing what you’re doing then you NEED true goals.

If you want to live a purpose driven life then you NEED true goals. If you want a reason to push yourself to reach your potential then you NEED true goals.

I won’t kid you, developing meaningful goals takes time, likely more time than it would take you to plan your next two-week vacation. It requires serious reflection about what’s most important to you. You’ll need a vision for your life and what you want it to look like in a year, 3 years and 5 years and beyond.

If you don’t currently have true goals and a written plan for how you’re going to achieve them then it’s likely you lack discipline as well. If your goals are meaningful enough and your plan is thorough enough they will drive a new discipline within you. That’s the power of true goals.

President Abraham Lincoln said “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” If you want to wonder what the future holds for you then you don’t need to do a thing. Just keep floating along through life. If however you want to control your future and shape what’s in store for you down the road then you’ll need to get serious about setting true goals.

There isn’t a much better life than a life lived on purpose for a purpose. Purpose comes from knowing where you’re going and having a map to get there.

Do you know your purpose?

The Power of Focus

Somebody a lot smarter than me once said “the man who chases two rabbits catches neither.” I don’t recall who said it but it’s absolutely true.

But there is a way that guy can catch both rabbits. He just has to chase them one at a time.

That’s focus.

If you can’t say no to many things then you’ll find it impossible to say yes to focus. In most areas of your life what you choose not to do will determine what you are able to do. If you’re trying to do too much you fall victim to what is known as task saturation. If you fall into that trap you end up accomplishing far less than the person focused on one thing at a time.

That’s the big illusion that multi-taskers present to themselves. They believe they can do many things well and that they can do them all at once. But every bit of research shows without a doubt that they are fooling themselves.

One person doing eight things one at a time will do them better and faster than one person trying to do all eight of them at once. That’s the power of focus.

Some people would tell you they can’t focus. That’s not exactly right. What they can’t do is decide. They can’t decide on their priorities. They are like a kid in a candy store…they want it all and they want it right now.

That “kid in the candy store” mentality causes them to accomplish things right at the deadline. They get them done in the nick of time because suddenly they didn’t have to decide what to do next, a deadline made the decision for them. The problem is, things done at the deadline are seldom done as well as those things done with time to spare.

The most successful people possess laser like focus. They invest a bit of time, well actually some serious time, in determining their priorities and then they go after them to the exclusion of all distractions.

Warren Buffett has laser focus and he has a dependable process to keep it that he shares with people who struggle with their own focus.

He’ll ask them to invest some time to write out their top 25 goals. These can be life goals, 10 year goals or goals for the coming month or year. Once they have that list he asks them to review it and select their top 5.

So now they have two lists, let’s call them list one and list two. Buffett asks what the person intends to do with list two. Most say that they will work on them as time permits because while they are not as important as list one they are still important.

That’s when Buffett gives them life altering advice. He tells them list two is actually their “avoid at all cost” list. He says that list should get zero attention until list one is 100% complete. That’s what focus looks like in practice.

I can tell you from personal experience that focusing is easy when compared to developing the lists. If you want success with your own list one you must be willing to sacrifice everything on list two.

Most people are able to do that but are unwilling to do that. Those 20 things on list two prevent them from achieving any of the things on list one. In their case, ALL the rabbits got away.

Some would say if you’re focusing on more than one thing you don’t really have focus. I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt and say so long as you’re focusing on one at a time you can maybe have five or six things on your radar.

Any more than that and you might as well be Elmer J. Fudd.

Are You Chasing a Dream?

The answer to that question is yes, you are most certainly chasing a dream. The bigger question is whether it’s your dream or somebody else’s. 

 

There is nothing wrong with helping someone else chase their dream so long as it doesn’t prevent you from chasing yours as well. Sadly, most people never realize the difference. 

 

If you’re working for someone else then you’re helping that person or that organization chase their dream. There is NOTHING wrong with that, many, in fact most, very successful people are employed by an individual or a company.

 

But they ALSO chase their own dream at the same time. 

 

I find it impossible to describe anyone as successful if they are merely chasing someone else’s dream. I can confidently say that I’ve never met a truly happy person who was chasing someone else’s dream at the expense of their own. 

 

But, and this is a big but…you must have a dream in order to chase it. Many people who work for other people helping them chase their dream don’t have definable dreams of their own to pursue. They seem to “settle.” 

 

They kind of float through life not even realizing they are chasing someone else’s dream. They get a paycheck that they divide up between their creditors and they think they are happy if there is something left for them at the end of the month. 

 

But there’s so much more to life when you’re chasing a dream of your own. The fullness of life comes from understanding your purpose in life. Your dreams come from your purpose.

 

I am fortunate that I figured out long ago that helping others chase their dream IS part of my dream. I succeed when those I help get closer to their dreams.

 

If you don’t know what your dreams are then some serious self-reflection is required. Have you ever considered what true happiness looks like to you? Have you ever defined success for yourself? Do you know why you’re doing the things you’re doing this very day? 

 

If you can answer those questions with a high degree of specificity then you have a path to success. If not then you have some work to do. 


The most successful people do not follow their dreams, they chase them. Find some running shoes and get a move on today!

Are you in Control of Your Life?

Think back to last January. Remember the resolutions you made? Maybe you decided to skip the almost always worthless resolutions and you set meaningful goals.

 

What has changed as a result of those resolutions or goals? More to the point, what have YOU changed. What are you doing differently this year?

 

I ask that because nothing in your life will actually change until you do. 

 

If you want change in your life then you should know that true, long-lasting change is more likely to come from what you stop doing. Most people seek change by trying something new but the change doesn’t stick because they failed to stop doing something else. Real change most often happens when you stop doing something that you do everyday, or nearly everyday. 

 

Would you like to have more control over your life? Then don‘t burn the first 15-30 minutes (or longer) of your day on social media. Invest that time instead in planning your day. Social Media might be of benefit to you but planning your day will be a benefit to you. Maybe for you it’s not social media that becomes a time suck. Whatever it is that mindlessly wastes your time you should understand that mindfully planning your day will provide you with more control over your life. 

 

How much have you complained this year? Here’s an even more important question. How much have you complained this year about the things in your life that you have complete control over? 

 

Don’t complain, change. Take control of those controllable parts of your life and make a plan that leads to positive change. Nothing changes by itself. All change comes about as a result of somebody doing something differently. If the change you seek pertains to your life then you must be that somebody. 

 

Here’s one final question for you. Do you want to drive the change that affects your life or do you want your life to be driven by change?


If you want to be in control of your life then take charge of change before it takes charge of you! 

Are You Wearing the Cloak of Entitlement?

Experience and research tells me that a significant number of people reading this post are next in line. They are next in line for a promotion or their bosses spot in the organization. It’s like it’s owed to them. 

 

They did everything asked of them so they are entitled to it. 

 

Well not exactly. 

 

First of all, doing everything you’re asked to do qualifies you for a paycheck and nothing more. Promotions come to those who do more than they are asked and even then nothing is guaranteed. 

 

I have always advised against setting “next” goals. A “next” goal sounds like “My goal is to be the next Sales Manager, or next Product Manager.” In my experience there are too many uncontrollable factors in “next” goals. To be the next anything there is timing involved, there may be some luck and like it or not there is often a bit of favoritism in promotions. 

 

If you have uncontrollable factors in your goal setting then it’s likely not a very good goal. I’d much rather see someone with a goal of “I will prepare myself to be the most qualified candidate for the position of Product Manager.” 

 

There are far fewer uncontrollable factors in that goal. 

 

Even with a solid goal of self-development you are still not owed a promotion and acting as if you are will only decrease your chances of earning one. 


Entitlement is not a good look. If there is going to be real success in your future then you need to be sure that the cloak of entitlement is never seen on you.