7 Mistakes of Goal Setting #6 & #7
Today we have more choices than we ever had. We can do more and also, we have to prioritise more. Well, first, we have to learn how to prioritise.
I assume that we can agree that being distracted is one of the things that happen to all of us and nowadays, always connected to the internet, to other people, to news and events, the buzz is louder than ever. We see more, and we wish to have more. Our curiosity is continuously stimulated, and we feel the need to check what caught our attention. We focus on shorter amounts of time, and it gets harder to keep focusing on only one thing.
In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the following method of sorting your TO DO’s is proposed: every action needs to be placed into one of the following categories:
Important and urgent: these are things that require our immediate attention. Do whatever you need to do, and you will be free. ( Tomorrow you have a meeting, and only today you were told that you need to present an activity report- there’s no room for pushing the deadline, everyone expects the presentation- Just do it!
Important but not urgent: by doing these activities you will reach your goals. By ignoring these activities, they will become important and urgent, therefore more stressful and the chances of you giving up on your goal will be higher, or your efforts won’t matter anymore. (I want to become more fit and prevent a heart disease- therefore, I will work out 3 times per week- it is not urgent neither to be fit nor to take care of my heart, but in the long run it will count as it will keep me alive and able to enjoy life even at an old age).
Not important and not urgent: these activities do not add value to your life, not now, not ever. (Sitting and watching TV for hours)
Not important but urgent: usually, last minute requests from others fall into this category, and they concern actions that do not matter to us. In case your help and input is essential, make clear when you are available- do not stop working on your goal in favour of such disruptions. We can, also, label as such all the things that we have to take care of but we can delegate (your children can vacuum, and your secretary can send those documents).
Long story short: the rule of thumb is that you must always keep in mind which is your goal and your action plan, which are your values. Prioritise accordingly to these parameters. Distractions are sometimes welcome and maybe even benefic, but after all, they are merely distractions. Therefore, keep your eye on the prize and never forget WHY you started the journey.
Be aware of the inevitable- The Change!
By now, we established that the only constant in life is Change. And with time, as we experience the world, our views and beliefs change, our expectations and plans change.
It is of uttermost importance to periodically stop and to check if what you have in your schedule reflects who you are at that moment and helps you grow.
Goals can lose meaning over time and sometimes, the circumstances make them nul. And that is OK! Pursuing these goals becomes a waste of time and energy. They are not of actuality anymore and reaching our destination will not add any more value in your life.
Revise your goals and the actions they require. Sometimes, the action plan needs to be revised. Some tasks are not needed anymore, some can be delegated, some should be switched around.
Be mindful, check in with yourself and take a closer look at your new circumstances. This way you can free some time, fast forward or move on to a new chapter in your life.
I myself set an ambitious goal of having a doctoral degree. Meanwhile, I lived in 2 different countries, I discovered other areas of interest and my values changed drastically. Having a PhD is not, by far, one of my priorities anymore.
Take a moment to reflect:
- which daily activities are eating up your time and bring you no value?
- what do you need to get done now so you can free up time and save energy for more important things?
- how often do you say NO?
- what goals did you have to leave behind as you progressed in life? And which goals did you have to reframe and rethink?
- are there any goals that need some inspection and maybe some rethinking?