Everyone, from the youngest among us to the oldest, wants to feel successful and to accomplish their goals. An unspoken goal for the incredibly young might be to roll over. For someone a little older accomplishing a perfect score on a spelling test might be a goal. As we age our goals become more complex and generally require we complete mini-goals along the way before accomplishing the stated goal. It is rare that someone intentionally sets themselves up for failure so why is it that so many of us have trouble accomplishing our goals?
I do not have all the answers, but I use some strategies which may also help you set yourself up for success and thus accomplish what you set out to do.
What is on your list?
Let’s talk about what needs to come first and that is to identify your goal. Think about what it is you want to accomplish? You may have a lengthy list. There may be somethings on your list that you can tackle and accomplish today, or this week. There may be other goals that require more time, planning and effort to accomplish.
Decide where to focus your energy.
Set yourself up for success by doing a brain dump and writing down every little goal that you want to accomplish.
Take this master list and separate it out into things that are simple to do and more lofty goals which will take more planning.
Now take the lofty goals and decide which one you want to spend your time concentrating on.
I like to refer to two systems which help me focus on my goals. You may have heard of them.
One is the SMART acronym. This acronym asks that you look at your goals and make them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
This makes total sense to me and I’m hoping it does to you also.
The more specific a goal the easier it is to work towards. If a goal is measurable, you will know when you have accomplished it. When a goal is attainable you know it is within reach. Set yourself up for success by working toward a goal that is attainable. Relevant goals make sense in your life right now. By assigning a time frame to the goal you are creating a work schedule for yourself.
Getting Things Done®
The second system I like to use for reference is from David Allen: Getting Things Done. He has five basic steps in his system. They are similar to the ones I outlined above. You can read about them here.
The fact of the matter is that we all, each and every one of us, accomplishes things each day. If we are breathing, we are doing something. Ask yourself if you are going though the motions and doing things because they need to be done or if there is something lurking in the back of your mind that you want to accomplish.
Do you have an idea? Is there a project you’d like to tackle but don’t know where to begin? Do you have a vision in your mind’s eye of how you want your home to look or to function? Is it time to reorganize and release the clutter from your home?
Set yourself up for success by writing it down. Then, if you’re stuck or if you’d like to talk through your next steps, reach out to me. I can hep you create a personalized plan to accomplish your goal.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people affected by ADD, Hoarding, and chronic disorganization.
My husband and I sat down about a month into the “stay at home” order and made a list of house projects we needed to tackle. We figured we weren’t going to be spending money on a vacation this summer, so maybe now was the time to try and deal with some issues we had been putting off. Also, when you are home all day, house projects sort of scream at you:) Making a written list was helpful to get us started, so great tip!
Thank you, Seana. I am a big fan of putting things in writing. It helps me to remember where I am focusing my energy and helps to motivate me. Next time fill me in – have you completed any of those projects?
I’ve learned a really helpful exercise for people (like me) who have difficulty articulating their goals. Pretend it’s a year from now (or another time frame) and you’ve run into someone you know, and tell them about your life, the way you’d like to imagine it at that time. That is your goal! Then you can break it down into action steps to help you get there.
That’s a great strategy, Janet. Thank you for sharing it with me.
I do find that when I do a brain dump, everything gets done in the proper order. It does help me understand the tasks and helps me put them in a seamless order to reduce stress and anxiety. Thank you for sharing!
It really helps me to do a brain dump and love knowing that it helps you, too!
When I have a big goal, the only way there is by stacking up mini-goals. Mostly, I’m pretty good at that. It’s not a formal process, but I do what I think of as the “next step” method. What is the next tiny thing I need to do to move the project or goal along? I get things done and accomplish many of my goals, but it’s a fluid process. I also find I have to work the goals with what’s going on in the other parts of my life. So that means I might not have the time or space to hyperfocus on a goal. Instead, it might take me longer to get there because of other priorities or commitments. I also recognize that some goals are harder to define. And sometimes, we need to do some experimenting until we figure out where we’re heading.
I love what you say here, Linda, about working on goals in conjunction with the rest of things going on in your life. I also appreciate your comment on experimenting – sometimes you need to travel a little way down a few paths in order to determine which is the path for you.
I absolutely love the term and image of “brain dump.” It always feels better when we pull info from our minds and commit it to paper. Crossing off an item either because we’ve gotten it done or decided not to do it at all is such a good feeling.
You’re so right, we all have goals and they do change over time.
Thank you, Ronni!
I’m a brain dump fan too, Diane although I once had a weekly client who paused our sessions for a month after we did the brain dump exercise because she was completely overwhelmed by how many items were on her list. When she was ready to look at it again, we did what you suggest here, breaking it down into manageable things she could do over a few days and making a master list of “Brain Dumped and Now Shelved” projects. She did come round to agreeing that getting it all out of her head and onto paper was helpful, it just took a while for it all to settle. I think a lot of us feel that if it’s on paper, we now have to do it, and that’s what overwhelmed her. Once she got that it was just to clear up some mental space without forgetting all her goals, she breathed a whole lot easier.
Oh, Lucy! I totally understand how that can be overwhelming. Seeing a massive list of things to do written down can be enough to make you want to just toss it all out the window. That’s why I suggest creating the other lists of things that can be done now – or in a short amount of time. I’m happy to know that the situation worked out in the end.