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. 

Don’t Run Out of Time

I have to admit that I have little patience for people who tell me that they “don’t have time.” The fact is no one in the world has more time than they do. We all have exactly the same amount of time, 1440 minutes a day. No more, no less.

 

You will never have more time than you do today. You can’t “make time” and you can’t “save time.” Stop worrying about how much time you don’t have and start using the time you do have more efficiently. 

 

For starters you must understand the difference between being busy and being productive. While “busy” people can get tired they often don’t get done. Productive people always seem to have a plan to follow and a goal to achieve. They get stuff done! 

 

Here’s a simple repeatable process that many of those highly productive people use to stay on track.

 

Determine what to do: Ask yourself, “does this need to be done and if I do it what goal or objective does it get me closer to? If you can’t state with a high degree of specificity why something needs to be done then it may be busywork. Don’t do it!

 

Schedule time to do it: Do you control your calendar or does it control you? Only put things on your calendar that will lead to your goals and objectives being achieved. Once it makes it to your calendar, it must be done. The simple fact is that the most productive people have more discipline in this area than less productive people.

 

Focus: Use time management tools like block time and appointment bracketing to make sure you’re using your time well. Do not allow other people to interrupt you. Do not interrupt yourself with email or social media that can wait. And don’t kid yourself into believing that it can’t wait.

 

Stay hyper aware: Things change! As your priorities shift don’t be afraid to adjust and adapt, be sure to keep your goals and objectives in mind. Because something was vital at some point in the past does not mean that it is still vital today. Reevaluating your priorities from time to time is one of the most productive activities you can do.

 

Always be improving: Constantly be looking for ways to maximize your efficiency; never do anything because it’s always been done that way. Look for a better way. That said, never invest a minute trying to improve something that doesn’t need to be done in the first place. Shaving ten minutes from a thirty minute project that doesn’t need to be done is still wasting twenty minutes and don’t tell yourself otherwise. 

 

Don’t overestimate your capacity: Successful people don’t say they will do more than they know they can do. If you know it will overload you and cause you to lose focus then don’t commit to doing it. It is perfectly acceptable, in fact it is necessary, to say no to things that don’t get you closer to your goals and objectives. 

 

If you find yourself running out of time at the end of a day then something must change. Highly productive people would tell you that nothing can change if you don’t change first. 


So will you?