Achieve Your Goals by Focusing on Critical Activities
What are your critical activities? Critical activities are those activities that directly move you towards your goals. Every goal has critical activities. The problem is that most of us spend significant amounts of time doing things that are not critical. Often we convince ourselves that they are something we ‘need’ to do to be successful, but usually they are things that are not critical.
Step 1 – Identify your goals
You can’t know what the critical activities are if you don’t first have a clear understanding of what your goals are. You need to understand where you are going before you can know how to get there. Go beyond just labeling something as your goal, get a grip on WHY you want to achieve your goal. Before you plan how to get to your vacation destination you first need to know where you are going and what you want to do when you get there. Your destination is your goal, and what you want to do when you get there is your WHY.
Step 2 – List major outcomes needed to achieve your goal
For each goal make a list of the outcomes that you need to complete in order reach that goal. These outcomes should be the major results that lead to achieving your goals. You may view these as the steps along the way, or the main accomplishments needed to move you forward. If your goal is to increase your coaching business your major outcomes will be finding new clients and keeping your existing clients. These would be the two major outcomes that if you continue to do will certainly help you achieve your over arching goal.
Step 3 – Determine the activities needed
In this step you need to take your outcomes from step #2 and break them down into all of the activities that are needed to get you to those outcomes. There are likely several activities needed for each outcome. These can be broken down into small bite sized action chunks. Continuing with the goal of expanding your coaching business, you would list all the activities for each of the two major outcomes. For example for finding new clients you would have things such as building your prospect list, networking, phoning potential prospects, increasing your web presence, offering seminars or podcasts etc… Think through all the things you do to move you towards each major outcome.
Step 4 – Limit the list to the critical activities
Once you have your list of activities you need to reduce the list to only those activities that are absolutely critical for achieving your goals. These are the things that must be done. To find out if one of the activities you have recorded is critical or not, ask yourself what would happen if you stopped doing it. If you quit doing one of the critical activities you will quit moving towards your goals. If you quit something that is not critical you may miss it but it won’t prevent you from reaching your goals. Often the critical activities are not the easy activities. They require stepping out of your comfort zone. For each goal you should aim to have between 4 and 8 critical activities.
Step 5 – Take action on the critical.
After you have identified the critical activities you need to take action on those activities. Reduce the time and focus you give to the non-critical activities. By now you have likely realized that some things you spend time on are not critical. Non critical activities for me include cleaning my office, surfing the web endlessly, communicating with friends on Facebook etc.. Certainly there are times where these activities are appropriate and even needed, however that is not when I am working towards my goals. When you have set aside time to focus on your business or other goals only do critical activities. To do this you may need to block out distractions. This might mean closing your email boxes, shutting of your twitter tweets, and perhaps even turning off the ringer on your phone. Get rid of the non-critical things that might distract you from the critical.
Step 6 – Do this for each goal
Likely you will have more than one goal in your life. You may have business goals, work goals, family goals, fitness goals etc. For each goal area you can work through this process. If your goal is to lose you may identify the major outcomes of eating better and exercising more. From there your critical activities might be: 1. exercise daily 2. cook better meals 3. measure our your servings 4. record everything you eat. Every area of your life has critical activities and time wasters.
By taking the time to work through these steps you can focus on the critical and avoid the time wasters. You will make more progress towards your goals more quickly.