Goal Setting

Just Do The Next Right Thing

Hopefully, by now, you have two to three SMARTER goals you intend to focus on for the next 90 days. You may have taken the first step or two in the right direction. But big goals can be daunting. And we never start without facing opposition. What are we to do?

The answer might sound like a cop-out: Do the next right thing.

The Planning Trap

It’s tempting to desire to plan, in detail, our path to achievement. And certainly, planning can be an ally on the journey to goal achievement. But frequently, it can hold us back in one of two ways.

First, we can leverage planning to procrastinate doing. We delay beginning because we insist on knowing exactly what will be required of us. We’re attempting to manage the fear, uncertainty, and doubt we feel about our risky goal. We’re trying to manufacture certainty and the illusion of control. But delaying action by planning can make a goal seem bigger than it is, leading to more of the negative feelings we’re trying to avoid. Instead of building momentum through action, you make it more difficult to gain traction.

Second, we can start treating our strategies as sacred. We lose sight of the what because we’re too focused on how. Sometimes, a strategy will take us part of the way but no further. We encounter new problems, constraints, or information that redirects us from our initial path. Other times, we can’t seem to gain traction: Our plan isn’t working. The beauty of committing ourselves to our what (goal) rather than our how (plan) is that pivoting is never a mark of failure. It’s just part of the journey.

Eyes to the Horizon

Without a plan, how are you supposed to stay on track? Simple. As the saying goes, “keep your eyes on the prize.” Put differently, you need to prioritize goal visibility. To quote another adage, those things that are out of sight are frequently out of mind. We don’t make progress on goals we don’t think about. We need to regularly remind ourselves of where we intend to go.

How can you do this? Simple as it might seem, post your goals where you’ll see them. Write them on your bathroom mirror or post them on your fridge. Frame them on your desk or in your office. Make them your desktop or phone background (We’ve got you covered.) Include review during your Workday Startup or Workday Shutdown—at the very least, as part of your Weekly Preview.

Seeing your goals makes you more likely to take goal-directed action.

What’s The Next Right Thing?

Thinking about your goals should prompt a single question: What is the next right thing? This question should inform your Weekly Big 3 and your Daily Big 3.

Your Weekly Big 3 are your weekly priorities. They’re objectives that will usually take you multiple days to complete. Your Daily Big 3 are your daily tasks. These are the focus of your effort and energy during the day. Constraining yourself to just three weekly priorities and daily tasks ensures forward progress.

Let’s say you want to start cooking more meals at home. You have a goal to cook 20 new recipes over the quarter. One of your first Weekly Big 3 might be to find seven recipes you’ll make for the coming month. One of your Daily Big 3 might include sending texts to three friends with a recipe request or flipping through one of your cookbooks.

Even if you get off track or take a detour or two, little by little, the next right thing will drive your goal achievement.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use and believe will add value to our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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