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If You Want to Get Bigger Things Done in 2018, Read This

If You Want to Get Bigger Things Done in 2018, Read This

You may think of Starbucks as a great place to grab a coffee, but they’ve actually got a fascinating goal that they’re aiming for. Their ambition is to be recognized as much for their commitment to social responsibility – as the quality of their coffee. And they want to reach this goal by 2020.[1]

To help reach this worthy ambition, Starbucks plans to offer sustainable coffee, eco-friendly stores, employment opportunities for military veterans (and their spouses), youth and refugees, and food share and community service.

How will they achieve these targets? The company is committed to planting 100 million trees to farmers by 2025, double the recycled content, recyclability and the reusability of Starbucks cups by 2020, hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses, and rescue 100 percent of food available to donate by 2020 in U.S. company-owned stores. (And many more.)

    This Starbucks’ plan is essentially based on the SMART goal principles. With a deadline of 2020 (just three years), they’re stretching their potential to get big things done as soon as possible.

    SMART Goal vs Stretch Goal

    In November 1981, George T. Doran, a consultant and former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company, published a paper titled: There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives. It’s believed that this was the first time the acronym SMART was written down.

    Maybe you’ve already known or tried a SMART goal, but let’s just have a recap of what SMART stands for:[2]

    • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
    • Measurable – quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress.
    • Assignable – specify who will do it.
    • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved given available resources.
    • Timeline – specify when the result can be achieved.

    This clear and simple framework has revolutionized the way many people and companies implement their goal setting.

    How about Stretch goals? Stretch goals allow you to stretch your imagination, potential and ability. It’s when our creativity and imagination comes up with what we believe are winning ideas – but we don’t necessarily have any concrete steps on how to achieve them. This can often make Stretch goals seem like make-believe, as the goals are often very challenging.

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    On the left, you can see a straight path leading to a country. This is how your SMART goal looks when in action. You have a clear direction and a definite goal.

    On the right, you can see a blurry, meandering path to an unknown continent. This is how your Stretch goal looks when in action. You have an uncertain route to take on the way to a goal that is so big – that you can’t be sure you’ll ever reach it.

      SMART Goals are Concrete but Rigid

      SMART goals offer a concrete plan of action so people know exactly what to do to achieve the desired goal. They are more motivating because the plan of action demonstrates how the goal is attainable. They also make visualizing progress easy, and missed targets can be spotted quickly.

        However, the focus on specific set targets to reach the goal can result in people missing the bigger picture. If the goals are too easy to achieve, then the potential is lost to attain greater success. For creative types, the rigidity of SMART goals may prove to be too robotic or dull.

          Stretch Goals are Daring but Vague

          Stretch goals inspire people to think BIG and push their limits of potential and ability. They allow people to keep their focus on the BIG picture, and encourage creative approaches because often unconventional ways are needed to achieve herculean goals.

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            But stretch goals can be demotivating. They lack concrete plans on how to get started, and how to progress and can lead to excessive risk-taking.

              Go SMART, or Stretch It?

              If you choose to go down the SMART goal route, you have the best chance of achieving your goal, but you may miss out on reaching your highest potential.

              On the other hand, if you choose to go down the Stretch goal route, you may push yourself to your limits, but ultimately fail to reach your desired destination.

                Clearly, SMART and Stretch goals have distinctive pros and cons. However, some circumstances will be best suited to one or the other.

                SMART goals are best when:

                • You have a vague plan, and have no idea how to turn the plan/idea into results.
                • You have a great idea/goal that you want to achieve, but you aren’t sure HOW to make it happen.
                • You need to kickstart yourself or your company into some action (e.g., reading one book a week, gaining 100 new customers a month).

                Stretch goals are best when:

                • You have a concrete plan, and you don’t see a problem making it happen. (It’s probably time to stretch it more!)
                • You want to break through stability and take your achievements to the next level (e.g., reading 3 books a week, gaining 500 customers a month).

                Discover the Sweet Spot

                Could there be a ‘middle way’ that combines the pros of each goal type while eliminating the cons? Yes, there certainly is.

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                If you’re not sure what goal type to choose, then instead, try combining the two goal types into one.

                  For example, if your goal is to be a competent guitar player, that would lend itself to being a SMART goal. With lessons and practice you could become a competent guitar player in under a year. However, why not blend in some Stretch goal thinking to inject some excitement into your goal. Dream big and outside of the box, and set your Stretch goal as: “To become a full-time, professional musician within three years.”

                  Now you have the best of both worlds. A short-term attainable goal, backed by a bigger, more inspiring dream.

                  Again, see yourself in the maze. Walking slowly through it, you know that you can eventually find your way out. However, imagine if you found a rocket in the maze, and you could instantly blast your way to freedom!

                  Start Achieving Right Now

                  Ready to start on the road to success? You just need to do three things:

                  1. Stretch your mind.
                  2. Get SMART.
                  3. Get working!

                  I’ll give you an example of this, so you can see how it’s done.

                  Imagine that you want to take up running as a hobby and a way to boost your health and fitness. If you lack any goals around this, you may run a few evenings, but then become demotivated and give up.

                  However, there is another way.

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                  Bring drama and stimulation to the table by choosing a Stretch goal of completing your first ever marathon.

                  Sounds too much? It should do, as the goal is designed to stretch your potential and ability. However – and here is the real secret – set yourself some SMART goals that specifically prepare you for the end destination… 26 miles of nonstop running!

                  Your SMART goals could include:

                  • Specific sub-goal: Run 7 miles without stopping.
                  • Measurable: Run twice around the park, no walking.
                  • Achievable?: Sure, if I run three times a week.
                  • Realistic?: Sure, if I wake up early every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
                  • Timeline: Run 3 miles this week, 4 miles next week, 5 miles…

                  I’m sure you get the idea.

                  By blending the power of SMART and Stretch goals, you can turn yourself into a super-achiever. And if you have your own company, you can begin putting it on the fast-track to major success.

                  So, Stretch, be SMART, and enjoy the journey!

                  Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

                  Reference

                  More by this author

                  Leon Ho

                  Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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                  Last Updated on November 3, 2020

                  How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

                  How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

                  It takes being productive to get things done correctly and on time. So how do you know which tasks are essential and which can wait? The answer is in the Prioritization Matrix, also known as the Eisenhower Matrix.

                  The matrix took its name after Dwight David Eisenhower.

                  Eisenhower was a general in the US army and the 34th President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. As a five-star general and a Supreme Commander in the US Army, he drafted the strategy for an Allied invasion of Europe.[1]

                  Eisenhower had to make tough decisions every time about which tasks to prioritize out of many he needed to focus on daily. So, he came up with the famous Eisenhower Matrix, or the Prioritization Matrix.

                  What Is the Prioritization Matrix?

                  The Prioritization Matrix is a tool for rating your tasks based on urgency. It helps you know the critical activities and those tasks that you should bypass and can be useful in project management, small businesses, or personal tasks.

                  Eisenhower famously said of the matrix:

                  “Most tasks that are urgent are not important, and most tasks that are important are not urgent.”

                  This quote became the maxim for Eisenhower in managing his time.

                  There are four quadrants in the Prioritization Matrix, which help in comparing choices of what to do first and last, allowing you to prioritize projects and create strategic plan[2].

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                  Eisenhower Matrix Template

                    The quadrants are:

                    • Do
                    • Schedule
                    • Delegate
                    • Eliminate

                    Do

                    Do is the first quadrant in the Prioritization Matrix, and it incorporates important activities. That is, those tasks you need to carry out urgently — crises, deadlines, and issues that need your urgent attention and are highly relevant to your life mission.

                    Hw do you know which task falls into this quadrant?

                    Start by analyzing your priorities, and then establish if it falls within the ‘do it now’ criteria. If the task is achievable within a day, or within 24 to 48 hours, it’s urgent.

                    Another approach you can adopt in prioritizing tasks in this category is to adopt the “eat the frog” principle by Mark Twain. This principle recommends that you do the most urgent activities as soon as you wake up.

                    Here’s a practical example.

                    Let’s say you need to draft a content strategy and submit a report to your manager. It’s Saturday, and the deadline for submission is Monday. Can we say the activity is urgent? Definitely!

                    Schedule

                    The second quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Schedule. The Prioritization Matrix classifies tasks in this category as important but not that urgent.

                    They are long-term objectives and tasks with no immediate deadline. Those tasks could include meditation, journaling, studying, family time, and exercising.

                    You can plan out activities in this quadrant for some other period. For instance, you should exercise for good health, but you can allocate time to do it.

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                    Schedule these activities in such a way that they don’t transfer to the “Do” or “Urgent” quadrant. Ensure you have sufficient time to carry them out.

                    Delegate

                    The third quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Delegate.

                    These tasks are not important to you but are quite urgent for others. This is where teamwork comes into play.

                    You can technically perform tasks in this category, but it makes sense to delegate them. Delegating tasks will ensure you have more time to pursue activities in your first two quadrants.

                    You should also monitor the tasks you have delegated. It will only amount to a sheer waste of time if you don’t have a tracking system for delegated tasks.

                    Eliminate

                    The last quadrant highlights your productivity killers. They are tasks that are not important to your goals and not urgent. The only way to boost your productivity is to eliminate them.

                    Some examples are constantly checking your phone, watching movies, or playing video games.

                    They could also be bad habits that you need to identify and delete from your daily and weekly schedule.

                    Successful people have learned how to prioritize and stick to what’s important. They have learned to find a better person for a task or eliminate less significant tasks.

                    Let’s consider two inspiring personalities that have designed their prioritization system.

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                    Warren Buffet developed a two-list prioritization model to determine which task deserves his best attention. The bottom line is bypassing things that are important and useful but not top of the priorities.

                    Mark Ford, a business advisor, marketer, self-made millionaire, and author devised his strategy:

                    “Start work on the most crucial priority, take a break, work on the second most important task, take a break, then sort out the less important activities and any tasks he received from other individuals by afternoon.” [3]

                    How to Use The Prioritization Matrix

                    Using the Prioritization Matrix can be tricky if you’re new at it, but by following a few simple steps, you can learn to utilize it in the best way possible.

                    1. List and Rank Your Priorities

                    Highlight all the tasks you need to carry out in a day. Then, classify them with weighted criteria based on urgency and importance.

                    Identify any activity that requires prompt action. I’m referring to a task that if you don’t complete that day, it could produce a grave consequence. For instance, if you don’t submit your content strategy, other content writers cannot work. It means you need to check for high-priority dependencies.

                    2. Define the Value

                    The next step is to examine the importance and assess which of them impacts your business or organization the most. As a rule of thumb, you can check which tasks possess higher priority over others. For instance, you need to attend to client’s requirements before you take care of any internal work.

                    You can also estimate value by examining how the task impacts the people and customers in the organization. In a nutshell, the more impact a task has on people or the organization, the higher the priority.

                    3. Take out the Most Challenging Task

                    Procrastination is not a symptom of laziness, but avoidance is. The truth is that you will typically avoid tasks you don’t want to do. The former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, once said he would take out the most dreaded task first thing when he got to the office.

                    Brian Tracy called these tasks the frogs you need to eat. That will remove the nagging dread, which mounts pressure on you when you postpone necessary tasks[4]. This is where the Prioritization Matrix can help; eat the “Do” frogs immediately.

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                    If you need help overcoming procrastination, check out this article.

                    4. Know What’s Important to You

                    As long as you are in this cosmos, you will always encounter different choices that may be contradictory to your goals. For instance, a fantastic promotion that requires excessive travel will isolate you from important relationships. If you are not priority-conscious, you may accept it, even though your family is your priority.

                    Therefore, it makes sense to identify what is important to you and to prepare yourself not to compromise those important things for immediate pleasure or gain.

                    Yogi Berra captioned it this way:

                    “If you do not know your destination, you might end up somewhere else.”

                    5. Establish Regular “No Work” Time

                    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki established a rule not to check her emails between 6 pm and 9 pm. According to a CNN Business report, she was the first woman to request maternity leave when Google just got started. She prioritizes dinner time with her family despite being the CEO of YouTube[5].

                    Is it possible to cut out time for our relationships and interests outside of work?

                    Of course, and that’s why you need to set out your “no work” time. This approach will enable you to renew your energy levels for the next task. Also, you will be in the best position to introspect as you are not in your usual work zone.

                    6. Know When to Stop

                    You can achieve everything on your list sometimes. After you have prioritized your workload and assessed your estimates, remove the remaining tasks from your priority list and focus on your most urgent and important tasks.

                    Conclusion

                    It’s not enough to be successful at work. Ensure you make out time for your family and an important relationship in your life.

                    Getting started and finding time may be tricky, but with some practice using the Prioritization Matrix, you’ll find that you are more productive and better able to divide your time between the things that are important to you.

                    More Tips on Prioritizing

                    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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