Let’s talk practicality instead of ideas. People read dozens of self-help books without achieving lasting change. Why? If it works, and many things do, why do we need yet ANOTHER book, recording, seminar? It all boils down to Focus and Continuity. So, today I want to suggest the how.
What is the difference between a Calendar and a Planner? In most cases, nothing. I have no intention of promoting any specific product. But my experience with the Franklin Planner system and Training has been at the core of a successful goal plan for me. Why? The FP idea works hard to get you to determine what your true life goals are, and then put in place an actual DAILY plan to get there.
If your planning system is no more than a calander with a To Do List, you are missing out on what it can truly accomplish. No To Do List will bring you to real life change. The process which will, is a bit more complex and thoughtful. Start by spending a serious period of time to determine what is genuinely important to you. There is a process for that, but that is not for today. Once done, be honest with yourself….what are you DOING to achieve these things? OK, ok, you’ve got it covered. Really? What did you do TODAY to forward those goals? Yes, I understand, busy – busy – busy. So, what did you do yesterday? Yes, I get it. How about this week? Sorry, this month?
Get the point? If you do not find a way to put these goals into your day to day – it will never happen. With that realization, we need a plan. One that will work, will fit our life, will actually accomplish something, and that we will DO (and keep on doing).
There are many methods for goal setting. I will leave the detailed teaching of them to other sources. What is best for you? That falls to which ever you will actually use. The trouble with most of us is continuity. Good intentions, quick fixes and short term efforts do not alter lives. At least not for the better.
But there are some simple methods that can help launch you on the way. Here is one that is extremely effective and remerkably easy to implement. This concept has worked for me in times of plenty and times of drought. The process is to focus on small steps on a consistant basis, and track the result.
Step one: Decide on 7 (arbitrary number) things you wish to do each and every day. Have more than seven? No problem, as you can change this plan each week to suit your needs. Next week you can have a different list if need be. Don’t put more than 7 on your list though. If you set your sights too high and fail, the tendency is to stop trying. Rather set your goals within reach and increase them as you succeed. Many small wins equates to good feelings and ongoing effort. My goal is to spend a minimum of 15 to 30 minutes each on action item.
Step two: Create a chart (An index card works perfectly) nine by nine. That is, nine columns across and nine rows down. If you prefer it can be created on a computer using excel or many other programs. At the top of each column put a day and/or date representing one week, leaving the first block blank. IE: Left to right – Blank/ Mon 11-2/ Tue 11-3/ Wed 11-4/ Thur 11-5/ Fri 11-6/ Sat 11-7/ Sun 11-8/ Total. At the front of each row (far left) list your seven planned ‘to do’ items, leaving the top (first) block empty. IE: Top to bottom – Blank/ Read/ WebSite/ Planning/ Vacuum/ Write/ Basement/ Calls/ Totals. Just in case this is not coming across clearly you may view and/or download the PDF file here:
Step three: Set a personal goal for the number of times in a week that you plan to accomplish each of the 7 items and put that number next to the name in the first column. As you do any of these things place a check mark in the coresponding box for that date. Example: If I vacuumed on Wednesday, I look down the list to Vacuum then follow the line across to the Wed column and place a check mark there.
Step Four: At the end of each week I total the Rows across to see how I did. My goal is to vacuum two times a week, so hopefully in that Total box at the far right of the vacuum row the total will meet or exceed that. Simple, right? The example I have added here has a Goal Total of 28. If your goal for each item is seven times a week then when you add the Total column you are looking for a 49. Some weeks you may hit lower, so next week work to beat that Total.
Step Five: Carry the card/list with you ALL the TIME. Shirt pocket, in your planner, wherever you will see it several times a day. If you tuck it away where it does not JUMP out at you – you are wasting your time. Notice that one of my 7 things was planning? To me it is important to actually spend some time each day planning what I will do the next. Experience as taught me this. When I don’t plan, I don’t do. that’s it, period. You may be different, but maybe not. Do not use this as a flail, or even a burr under the saddle. This should be part of the reward system. On the reverse side if the list write one or two small thoughts reminding you of the benefit from meetin the goal. We do things because we want to. We do not do things we don’t want to. If this process makes you uncomfortable you will not do it for very long and for this to work you must. That is, in order for these little things to add up to meeting the big goals we have, there must be prolonged effort. Keep it simple, create a habit, remind yourself of the WHYs and the REWARDs and you will change your life.
Tip: Anything can go in your goal list, even things NOT to do. A possible goal could be to not curse. You create this listing to change or create the things you choose. Anything from ‘Spend time with children’ to ‘Shoot hoops’ is perfectly fine. This is your life, your plan, your future, your choice.
“Your life is yours alone. Rise up and live it.” – Terry Goodkind