Do you want to know the biggest thing that holds us back from accomplishing our goals and dreams?
It’s a lack of planning!
We will always fill our time and there will always be things to do, no matter what those things are. But, without planning ahead and managing our time well, it will be hard to achieve the kind of growth we want in business and life.
In 2012, I got serious about setting goals, measuring progress, and planning my time. And, I don’t think it was a coincidence that my business started to take off then.
You see, I used to approach my days and weeks with a “what’s most urgent” mentality. I focused my energy and efforts on the things that felt important and critical right then. And, I didn’t necessarily think about how those tasks fit into the larger picture. I was always busy, but not purposefully busy.
That’s why I now believe planning is SO important. Truthfully, I can’t imagine growing the business that I have WITHOUT being completely vigilant about setting goals, planning ahead, and managing my time well.
I get that planning is not for everyone. And that’s okay. But I also know that if you want to actually accomplish all of your big goals and dreams, you are going to need a solid plan. And, it is pretty easy with the right kind of tools.
So how does it work, exactly, planning for your big goals? After all, it is one thing to dream about crazy ideas, but it is a whole other thing to follow through on them. Where do you even begin?
Below is a quick recap of the three steps I take to create an action plan that works:
BREAK BIG INTO BITE SIZE
First, break down your big goals in to bite size pieces. Start by breaking down your someday goals into something you can do THIS YEAR. Then break your THIS YEAR goal into something you can do THIS MONTH, and then from THIS MONTH to THIS WEEK. The biggest goals never happen in one fell swoop. It is always a matter of continual momentum in the right direction.
Our natural inclination is to put it off our big goals in favor of what feels more important at the moment.
But, that is exactly why it’s crucial to break down those big goals into smaller milestones. Then those milestones into even smaller, more manageable bites. In the end, you’ll have a set of tasks that each feel doable. Completing these small tasks will give you a sense of accomplishment and the satisfaction of being one step closer to your big goal.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Once you’ve broken down those big goals, start by planning out your week. Prioritize your time into must do, should do, and would like to do items.
The Living Well Planner® is the perfect tool to help you break down your big goals into actionables. In my planner, I start each week off by using the Weekly Wizard™ page. This page helps me identify ONE big thing that is most important this week. I like to call it the big focus. It also helps me identify my top three tasks, starting with the “A” tasks, or the ones that absolutely must get done this week to get me closer to my goals.
Once you’ve filled out your Weekly Wizard, block out time on your schedule to make it happen. This is a process of making an appointment or meeting with yourself. Take this time as seriously as you would any other appointment. It is your focus time to complete your “big goal” task for that day.
Here are a couple more tips to keep in mind as you are time blocking:
- First, always block out more time for an important task than you think you will need. Things almost always take longer than we think they will!
- Second, if you can, try to block your time into 1-2 hour chunks. Research shows that this is the optimum amount of time to work in one stretch—long enough that you can really dig in, but not so long that your brain turns off.
- Third, be sure to schedule in buffer blocks each day—chunks of unstructured time that you can use to catch up if you get behind or to handle any urgent matters that come up that day.
The key to success is practice. And, like anything else in life, the more you practice it, the easier time blocking will become.
MAKE A DAILY DECISION TO STICK WITH IT.
After learning the entire process of turning your big dreams into baby steps and the secret to blocking out your time, the hard work is over, right? Not so much. You need to make the daily decision to follow through with your plan and actually do the work.
Each morning we start our day filled with a certain amount of self-discipline, and as we go about our day, that resolve tends to drain out. So, if you start your day by tackling your hardest, but most important tasks, you’ll have already done a lot!
We must accept the truth that if we don’t take the time to put our long-term goals first, there will never be enough time or energy for our dreams. The obligations of every day will always take over.
The reality of life is that there will always be more to do than we have time for, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still make our big goals and dreams a priority. We absolutely CAN.
Remember, small steps, taken over time, can lead to big things.