Define & Prioritize Your Goals: Step 2 of the 7 Step Maximum Productivity Process

2nd in a series of articles outlining my 7 Step Maximum Productivity Process.
Click here if you’d like to start at Step 1.

woman and goalsStep 2: Define and Prioritize Your Goals

How are you supposed to know what tasks need to be prioritized and done today, if you haven’t determined what your goals are? I mean ALL of your goals – for your personal life as well as for your business; like being home to do homework with your kids or losing 40 pounds, as well as making $1,000,000 by franchising your veggie burrito stand business across the world and $50,000 from monetizing your Vegetarian Cookery YouTube Channel in 2014.

Very often when we are struggling with procrastination it is because we don’t keep focus on our goals and don’t realize how much time we spend doing lower priority tasks. We then find that we don’t have time for the higher priority tasks.

Recording your Goals

I use a Google Drive spreadsheet. If you have MS Office with Excel, or any other spreadsheet application, it will be very much the same. If you prefer the old fashioned way, you can take a big sheet of paper, turned on its side (landscape), and a pen or pencil and write all the goals across the top. Computerized tools to make it a little easier to change and move things around, but you need to use whatever you can to get it done, today!

  • Create a section for each area of your life you are defining goals for: a worksheet on the spreadsheet (the tabs at the bottom), or separate sheet of paper.  The areas can be Home / Business, Family / Business / Self, Personal / Business / Community, etc. whatever fits your life. Ideally you could fit them all together, but as we need to include all the goals from all aspects of your life, you probably need more columns across than you can see at a time (or fit on one sheet of paper).  If you put too many columns that you have to scroll to the right, you will probably forget all about what’s out of sight.
  • List the goals in the order of priority from left to right, as that is the order that we normally read in and unconsciously place more importance on what is at the left and can be easily seen. Really think about how important each of these goals is for you and what’s most important.  In future steps, you may realise you need to simplify so it’s good to start thinking about the priorities now.
  • Include EVERY goal that you can think of — see the examples I mentioned above re losing weight, spending time with your children and making money.
    • Go through each aspect of your life and think through all the things that you’d like to have, achieve, be, do, etc. and include them all.
    • Include big goals and small goals, wide and narrow.
    • Don’t forget to include your ‘wildest dream goals’ as well as those that are more realistic.
    • For now keep in all the things that have a low priority or that you think you may not have a chance of doing — if it’s something that you do want, it should be on the list.  Later in the process we will work on filtering, if it is needed.
  • Get specific. The more detailed in the description of your goal the more likely you will be to really go for it — and get what you want.  If you put your goal as “I want more money” you may just get a few dollars more.  If you put your goal as “I want $1,000 additional income by November 30th to put a down payment on our 2014 summer vacation.” You are going to get $1,000 by November 30th. You are also more able to measure your progress, as you can see each week how much closer you are to your goals so you can get more and more motivated to make it or see where you have to adjust priorities and activities.
  • Set a deadline. See the example above where you gave yourself until November 30th to make a certain amount of money. This makes it real and you are less likely to push it back further and further until you realise you may never achieve this goal.

Next week, in Step 3, we are going to break it all down and see how much you really have to do!

What to watch out for…

What if you don’t have a clear idea of what your goals are, or if you have a conflict over what your priorities are?

  • You need to spend some time getting clear on this before you can move forward successfully. If your goals aren’t clear in your head, then it will be very hard to work toward them. Writing them down will help to bring clarity.
  • Certain obligations may mean that you have to delay starting up your own business, but that can still be your goal and an important one for you so you still need to keep it on your list and find ways to move toward that goal.
  • If your partner – in life or business or both – or family members have different goals to yours, you may need to work to align your goals so that you can work more efficiently.  Just don’t compromise away the goals that are most important to you.  Very often there is an underlying strain in a relationship because there is a difference in goals that you are not discussing.  Most often the strain is not because of the difference in goals, but because it has not been discussed. Once you start talking you may find that your goals aren’t so far apart after all.
  • If your partner won’t work with you to define any common goals, it’s like ‘being present’.  You can be present yourself, but you can’t talk someone into being present or make someone ‘be present’.  Very often your own practice can bring that person into alignment. You need to go ahead and set those goals that are important to you and work towards them to the very best of your ability with this process. Hopefully in time your partner, seeing the progress you are making and the peace it brings you, will join in.  Don’t make a job out of getting him/her along.  You don’t need any more jobs to do! Remember: secure your own oxygen mask before you assist those around you 🙂

Struggling with how to set priorities?

With this process we hope to get everything done eventually, but you need to determine what needs to get done first, second and so on.  Any frustration you’ve had before with not getting things done or not finding time to get started with your own business, is most likely from trying to do too much at once.  This is where you need to give yourself the time and space to get down to your true feelings.  Is it more important to make a certain amount of money with your business than to be home with the kids to do their homework, or vice versa?  Do you need to get a new dishwasher more than you need to take your family on a weekend break?  Many of us have struggled with these issues — big ones and every day ones — and juggled and juggled and still come up short. The frustration comes from the fact that you haven’t made a clear decision of what you need to do first and you don’t have the confidence that you will get to the items further down on the list.

With the process you will make these decisions and have a plan that will bring you that confidence.


7 Day Challenge for the Week

Each day practice what you’ve built in Step 1, being mindful that you don’t have to get EVERYTHING done today.

  • Create a spreadsheet or written chart with sections for ALL aspects of your life.
  • List all the goals across the top in order of priority.
  • Make sure you are being specific and quantify where relevant.
  • Set a deadline for each goal.
  • If you are struggling with this, look at the issues noted above that may be keeping you from defining your goals and work through it. Just make a start, you can always add and edit the list as you go along.

If you have any questions or challenges, please leave a comment below.
Include any goals that you’d like the community to help keep you on track.

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