In his book, Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours, author Robert Pozen reveals his secrets and strategies for productivity and high performance, focusing on results produced rather than simply hours worked. In this edited excerpt, Pozen lays out six steps to analyze whether your efforts are supporting your most critical business goals and objectives.
Many executives race from meeting to meeting or crisis to crisis without giving much thought to the rationale for their hectic schedules. They spend too little time on activities that support their highest goals and often report a serious mismatch between priorities and time allocations.
Think carefully about why you are engaging in any activity and what you expect to get out of it. Establish your highest-ranking goals and determine whether your schedule is consistent with this ranking. This process has six steps: Read more
As a general rule, there is a strong correlation between the prevailing economic sentiment and the national rate of consumer spending. This was in evidence this week, as Barclaycard reported a 0.4% drop in spending during January amid rising unemployment and a growing sense of economic uncertainty in the UK.
Conversely, periods of economic growth tend to trigger more robust spending and a more positive consumer outlook, through which individuals are often able to visualize their goals more clearly. In addition to this, you may well find it easier to achieve these goals on the back of soaring economic sentiment and the sense of security that it brings.
While economic and personal circumstances can impact on our ability to achieve individual goals, however, we must ultimately take responsibility for own success or failure. This means clearly visualizing your goals and setting realistic time frames for their completion, before taking practical steps towards achieving them. This will often require a tremendous amount of persistence, however, so consider the following points as you attempt to bring distant dreams into reality.
1. Have a clear understanding of your goal.
The successful visualization of your goal is critically important, as it enables you to understand both its origins and ultimate purpose. Whether the goal is career orientated or associated with your personal life, the ability to comprehend its meaning will help you to determine its level of importance and whether or not it should be a leading priority. Most importantly, by clearly understanding your goal, you can comprehend the value that its accomplishment will add to your life.
2. Plot a clear path toward success.
While having a clear end goal is critically important, it means little unless you are able to plot a clear and achievable path towards success. Planning your course and establishing time frames can also help you to understand whether or not it is realistically achievable, or if a compromise may be needed to make it viable. If you are to translate a dream into something tangible, this is a crucial and insightful process.
3. Create a series of simple and practical steps.
On a similar note, achieving any goal can also be made easier by breaking it down into a series of simple, practical and chronological steps. This not only makes it seem more manageable, but it also provides a constant reference to your progress and the steps that are still required if you are to be successful. If you are easily overwhelmed, this is a technique that will ensure you remain focused at all times.
4. Do not let your goal dictate the course of your life.
The main purpose of these steps is to help make your goal more attainable, so that you can accomplish it in a way that suits your lifestyle and existing schedule. It is crucial that your goal does not dictate the course of your life, as this will disturb your work-life balance and have a detrimental impact on those closest to you. This must be avoided at all costs, so take care to adopt a responsible approach towards fulfilling your dreams.
5. Be prepared to fail and remain mentally strong.
Even with a sense of focus and a clear path towards success, outside factors can derail the most carefully laid plans. You must therefore remain driven and mentally strong while looking to achieve your goals, as you adopt a pragmatic outlook and prepare for any eventuality that may ultimately underline your ambition. While some may consider this to be a negative mindset, preparing to fail can ensure that you remain on course when things do go wrong.
6. Adjust and change your course as required.
On the occasions that you do encounter difficulty, there may be a need to adjust your course and tailor your plans accordingly. This flexible and proactive approach enables you to react positively to even the most significant challenges, while it may also help you to constantly review your goals and the methods used to accomplish them. Even if you are not faced with an immediate problem, you may still wish to adapt if you identify a better way of realizing your goals.
7. Do not let success reduce your drive or level of motivation.
For most individuals, life represents a series of challenges and changeable goals that require accomplishment. Once you have begun to achieve your individual goals, however, it is important to maintain your existing level of drive and innate hunger to succeed. Even short-term or relatively moderate success can create a sense of complacency and de-motivation, so you must retain focus if you are to accomplish multiple goals in your lifetime.
With these thoughts in mind, you should be able to successfully accomplish individual goals throughout the course of your life. More importantly, you will also be able to maintain your sense of drive and remain successful over a prolonged period of time.
Setting and achieving goals can be very overwhelming if systems aren’t put in place. A system can take many different forms. It can be a simple post-it reminder or it can be a routine that you follow on a regular basis.
Once you start setting goals, it’s tough not to want to set them in all areas of your life – school, work, exercise, your dreams, hobbies, the way you want to act, etc. If systems aren’t put in place, it’s very hard to keep everything organized and consistent. To achieve a goal, consistency is very important. We have all set out to do something, only to get off track. We’ll remember a couple weeks later and try starting it up again, but it never works that way. A year later you think about what could have been.
By Brian Tracy
America contains millions of men and women who have come from difficult backgrounds, with every conceivable type of handicap and liability, but have gone on to build wonderful lives for themselves through self-improvement, positive affirmations and setting long-term goals. Often, people around them ascribe their good fortunes to luck. But if you talk to these people and you trace their stories from where they began to where they are now, you will find that luck had little to do with their success, but more with their long-term goals and positive affirmations. And, it has little to do with yours.
Your Long-Term Goals impact Cause and Effect
The Law of Cause and Effect cuts in both directions. It also says that if there is an effect in your life, such as lack of money, overweight, problems in your relationships, an unsatisfying job or career, or any other difficulty, you can trace that effect back to the things that you did to cause it, and by removing the causes by setting long-term goals, you can begin to remove the effects and begin to follow a path through positive affirmations and self-improvement.
Practice The Proven Principles of Success Through Positive Affirmations and Self-Improvement
In its simplest terms, successful, happy, healthy, prosperous people are those who have discovered the principles of self-improvement through long-term goals, goal setting and positive affirmations. They have designed their lives so that they live in harmony with those principles. As a result, they experience far more joy and satisfaction in life. They accomplish far more in a few years than the average person does in a lifetime.
You’ve heard it said, in Poker, “The winners laugh and tell jokes while the losers say, “shut up and deal!” In the world around you, the winners are busy and actively working toward achieving their long-term goals through positive affirmations while average people are putting in as little work and contribution as they can and hoping for a lucky break. Winners always ascribe their success to hard work, goal setting and self-improvement. Mediocre people always ascribe their failures to bad luck.
Consequences Of Goal Setting
Another version of the Law of Cause and Effect is the Law of Action and Reaction. First propounded and explained by Sir Isaac Newton. This law states that, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Put another way, actions have consequences.
This is important. At the beginning, you can decide upon the action. You can control what you do throughpositive affirmations and goal setting. But once you have launched a particular action, the consequences are often out of your hands. Once you have done or said a particular thing, the consequences take on a power and a force of their own. This is why successful people are more thoughtful about the potential consequences of what they say and do than the average person. Unsuccessful people, on the other hand, tend to be thoughtless, even careless, about their statements or behaviors, avoid positive affirmations, self-improvement, goal setting and do not have long-term goals.
The key to enjoying more of what people call luck is for you to engage in more of the actions that are more likely to bring about the consequences that you desire through your long-term goals and self-improvement. At the same time, you must consciously decide through positive affirmations to avoid those actions that will not bring about the consequences you desire, or even worse, will bring about consequences that you don’t want.
Create Your Own Luck Through Positive Affirmations
If you are in sales, the daily actions of achieving your long-term-goals through prospecting, presenting, following up and working continuously to cultivate leads and referrals will ultimately bring about the consequences of sales success, higher income, personal pride and greater satisfaction from your career. The more of these actions you engage in, the more pleasurable consequences you will enjoy. Your success will be largely under your control through goal setting and self-improvement. It will not be a matter of luck at all.
By having long-term goals you will create your own luck through positive affirmations, goal setting, and self-improvement.
I encourage you to pick up a pen and a piece of paper and jot down the goals you want to reach. Look at each goal and evaluate it. Make any changes necessary to ensure it meets the criteria for a SMART goals:
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Attainable
- R = Realistic
- T = Timely
Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do.
Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model.
- WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as direct, organize, coordinate, lead, develop, plan, build etc.
- WHY is this important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish?
- HOW are you going to do it? (By…)
Ensure the goals you set is very specific, clear and easy. Instead of setting a goal to lose weight or be healthier, set a specific goal to lose 2cm off your waistline or to walk 5 miles at an aerobically challenging pace.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. In the broadest sense, the whole goal statement is a measure for the project; if the goal is accomplished, the is a success. However, there are usually several short-term or small measurements that can be built into the goal.
Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. How will you see when you reach your goal? Be specific! “I want to read 3 chapter books of 100 pages on my own before my birthday” shows the specific target to be measure. “I want to be a good reader” is not as measurable.
Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goals.
When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop that attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. Your begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.
Goals you set which are too far out of your reach, you probably won’t commit to doing. Although you may start with the best of intentions, the knowledge that it’s too much for you means your subconscious will keep reminding you of this fact and will stop you from even giving it your best.
A goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it and it will need a real commitment from you. For instance, if you aim to lose 20lbs in one week, we all know that isn’t achievable. But setting a goal to loose 1lb and when you’ve achieved that, aiming to lose a further 1lb, will keep it achievable for you.
The feeling of success which this brings helps you to remain motivated.
This is not a synonym for “easy.” Realistic, in this case, means “do-able.”It means that the learning curve is not a vertical slope; that the skills needed to do the work are available; that the project fits with the overall strategy and goals of the organization. A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but it shouldn’t break them.
Devise a plan or a way of getting there which makes the goal realistic. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. A goal of never again eating sweets, cakes, crisps and chocolate may not be realistic for someone who really enjoys these foods.
For instance, it may be more realistic to set a goal of eating a piece of fruit each day instead of one sweet item. You can then choose to work towards reducing the amount of sweet products gradually as and when this feels realistic for you.
Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren’t very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!
Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, by fifth grade. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards.
If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.
Time must be measurable, attainable and realistic.
Everyone will benefit from goals and objectives if they are SMART. SMART, is the instrument to apply in setting your goals and objectives.
In addition to many other reasons for journaling, your journal can function as a kind of personal coach — essentially, someone who helps you identify and achieve goals. Modeled after sports coaching, a personal coach holds you accountable, pushes you a little harder than you might push yourself, and cheers you on. You can think of a personal coach as someone who facilitates the identification of desires, skills, and abilities you have, and the development of major and minor goals to help you achieve more in your life. In some cases, helping you to find your passion and/or new directions.
Certainly, there are things a person can do for you that a journal cannot — bringing in outside resources or pushing you harder than you would work on your own, for instance. But a journal can be used to help you identify core issues, things you really want to have or be in your life, and the steps you’ll need to take to reach those goals. And if you decide you want to work with a professional personal coach at some point, your journal writing work will have laid a strong foundation.
This process is future-oriented. So, rather than writing or reflecting about events in your past, you’ll be writing — for the most part — about the future. How does it work? For the sake of this article, let’s take a simple approach to setting and achieving a single goal.
- Define your goal. A goal is a general statement about what you want to achieve. For example, I want to be more active in my community.
- Figure out what you already know and/or have that relates to your goal. In my example, I need to understand what I know about my community and what kind of resources (skills, time, and money) I have to offer. I figure I can spend about two hours a week or so. I can make a list of skills I have to offer, preferably activities that I enjoy. And I’ll write down what I know, if anything, about different organizations in my community.
- Brainstorm a list of objectives related to the goal. Objectives are steps or strategies to attain goals, but the trick to stating objectives is that they must be specific and measurable. One step to becoming more active in my community is making a list of community organizations. Another might be to identify those organizations that most attract me. A third might be to visit and/or interview people at these organizations to find out more about how they work and what volunteer opportunities are available. And so on. Once you’ve brainstormed a list of possible objectives, put them in order. Sometimes, you may need to do some research before you know what you need to do and/or in what order. That, then, becomes your first objective.
- Next, give yourself completion dates for each objective. In my example, my first objective will be to make a list of ten community organizations, including contact numbers, by one week from today (date). Be as realistic as possible about the dates, while understanding that you can adjust them in the future, if you need to.
- Write your dates on your calendar. If there are sub-steps you need to take for an objective, put these on your calendar as well. For example: 1) On (date), look up county agencies on county website; 2) on (date), go to library and find out how to access list of non-profit organizations in town.
- Finally, use your journal and your calendar to hold yourself accountable. Hold weekly “sessions” with yourself to write about how you’re doing towards your goal. If you notice resistance to completing tasks you’ve set yourself, write about it, and devise some strategies to help. Maybe you’re trying to push yourself to do things you don’t really want to do but feel you “should” do. Explore this. Above all, be understanding, compassionate, nonjudgmental, yet firm with yourself. This is, after all, what a personal coach would do.
You might consider a special journal or notebook to hold your goals and self-coaching sessions. Or you might decide to keep it in the context of your regular journaling (mine are mixed together). Whatever feels most comfortable and works with your organizational style is fine.