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Last Updated on June 19, 2020

Why Having a Goals Strategy Can Help You Achieve More

Why Having a Goals Strategy Can Help You Achieve More

The challenge most people have with setting goals is figuring out how to achieve them. Many goals end up abandoned because they become a burden rather than a source of inspiration. When you don’t have a goals strategy, achieving your goals will only be a mirage. In this article, you will find insight into why you need a strategy for your goals and examples of what you should include in your goals strategy.

What Is a Goals Strategy?

A goals strategy is an approach you take to achieve your set goals[1]. It is a plan of action and a set of tactics you deploy to ensure that you accomplish the things you set out to do.

Why You Should Have a Goals Strategy

A goal being pursued without an accompanying strategy will ultimately lead to abandonment or frustration. This is because there are internal and external forces that can work against your goal. Your strategy is meant to help you confront these unforeseen circumstances.

What Your Goals Strategy Should Include

Your strategy should consist of primary plans, contingency plans, tactics, and other initiatives you are willing to take to achieve your goals. Below are examples of things you can include in your strategy.

1. Have an Action Plan

Your action plan is a clear outline of how you intend to achieve your goals. It includes the specific things you have to do and the moves you have to make to achieve your goal.

For example, if you intend to save up an amount of money over a period of one year, your action plan will include a regular plan of setting aside a certain amount of money. It can also include other details, such as whether or not you will need to open a designated account for savings. The plan can also include how you intend to cut down on some other expenses to achieve your goal.

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2. Focus on the Process Rather Than Results

One of the best strategies you can deploy to achieve your goals is to focus on the processes involved in achieving your goals rather than the end results. When you focus your energy on the process, you have greater chances of hitting your goals.

For example, if you have a goal to land a new job, your first focus should be on finding opportunities that match your previous work experience.

Once you’ve found a position, your next focus is preparing and submitting an attractive resume and cover letter in order to get called for an interview. If you get called for an interview, your next focus would be giving the interview process all it takes. This will involve researching the company, preparing to give appropriate responses to your interviewers, and portraying yourself as the best candidate for the job.

Your goal of getting a new job will likely come to fruition if you have focused on giving your best at each of the stages mentioned rather than just being preoccupied about getting the job.

3. Choose One Area to Focus on

One of the reasons people often find it impossible to reach their goals is because they run after too many goals at a time. While you can have multiple goals, choosing and concentrating your energy on one goal at a time can make a difference.

This is a strategy that works. Human nature is not wired to perform optimally when its energy is diverted toward too many things at one time. Focusing on an area means prioritizing your goals, taking one thing at a time, and moving on to the next thing when you’ve achieved the previous one.

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4. Plan for Changes and New Challenges

Another strategy you can put in place for your goals strategy are contingency plans. There are many things that are outside of your control that can affect your goals. For example, there can be major socio-economic changes that can affect your goal projections, changes to your living situation, or an unexpected illness.

For example, your investment plan can be affected by an economic recession. If this happens, you will need an alternative plan to be able to achieve your investment goals.

5. Be Ready to Embrace New Directions

When situations change and a goal seems out of reach, embracing a new direction might be another way to reach your goal.

For example, if you have the goal of occupying a particular position in your organization, and after giving your best, the position is given to someone else, seeking a similar position in a similar organization can be something to think about.

If it is business, and you are not getting results with the kinds of clients you currently have, you might upgrade or downgrade your product/service and focus on a different set of clients.

6. Test a Miniature Version of Your Goal

It is good to set big goals, but before you launch, test it on a smaller scale. Testing a smaller version of your goal will give you the opportunity to detect opportunities and threats to your goals that you might not have considered before.

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This strategy is applicable in business and for individuals. It is what recruiters use as job simulation (a test job) to ascertain how a candidate will perform on the real job. It is what partners practice when they date to get familiar with each other before making a marriage commitment.

7. Create Milestones

This looks like the one earlier mentioned about focusing on the process, but there’s some difference. Creating milestones[2] means breaking your goal into actionable units and focusing on achieving each unit at a specific moment.

For example, if you plan on moving your family to a new country for permanent residency, this will require that you at least secure employment in that country. Therefore, your first milestone will be to secure employment that can guarantee you and your family permanent residency. The second milestone is to secure your visa and residency permits, and your third and last milestone will be to plan the logistics of the move. All of these will come with deadlines or timelines, so add those to your goals strategy.

8. Find a Competitor

While it is good to work at your own pace, healthy competition can help to bring out the best in you. It can also make you go the extra mile you might not have been willing to go alone.

Whatever it is that your goal is about, you can find someone to compete with. It might be at your workplace or someone you know remotely. A good example of this is found in two great athletes in the game of soccer: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Both players attest to how the rivalry between them has made them better in the game to the amazement of fans around the world[3].

9. Have an Accountability Partner

If your goal remains with you alone, it is easy to bury it in the pit of procrastination or drown it in the ocean of complacency. However, when you communicate your goals to an accountability partner — someone that is interested in your growth and can challenge you to action — you will often find the motivation to achieve your goals.

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For example, when you create your yearly goals, you can have a chat with your accountability partner to challenge you based on your goals and the timeline you have set. To be more accountable, you can schedule a monthly or quarterly goal review meeting with your accountability partner

10. Act on Your Goal Daily

Your goals have to be serviced daily to keep your mind on them, so make this part of your goals strategy. This might be as simple as thinking it over: what you have done and what you can still do to reach your goal. It can also involve taking actions, such as making a phone call, sending an email reminder, or making a request that is connected to your goal.

11. Be Comfortable With Failure

If you don’t mind whether you fail or not, you will give your best to the processes involved in achieving your goals. Sometimes, not being sure of what the outcome might be can prevent us from giving our best because we don’t want our efforts to go down the drain.

However, when we are comfortable with failure, we will give our best to the process, leaving the outcome to emerge on its own. The results of this kind of approach are surprisingly impressive. However, even if it turns out that it truly failed, you will be proud that you gave it your best.

12. Keep a Goal Performance Journal

Have a journal to track your performance, including actions that you took that led to success in the process of achieving your goals. This will not only be useful for your current goal pursuit, but it will also be useful for future goals as you might need to repeat those actions.

Final Thoughts

Achieving your goals will require more than strategies; you will need to have the courage and determination to pursue your goals in the face of all odds. However, strategies do have their place. They provide the best path you can take to achieve your goals and limit your chances of failure.

More Tips on Achieving Goals

Featured photo credit: Patrick Perkins via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed, and exhausted. Therefore, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s time to do something about it.

Here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm, leaving you calmer, in control, and a lot less stressed at work.

1. Write Everything Down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when work feels overwhelming is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s occupying your thoughts[1].

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind, write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind.”

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will help you stop feeling overwhelmed at work. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have emptied your head, go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. You can learn how to create a more meaningful to-do list here.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago to help when work feels overwhelming. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and we humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take[2]:

When feeling overwhelmed at work, use Parkinson's Law.

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad. It’s more wishful thinking than bad judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage when we’re feeling overwhelmed at work. If you have estimated that to write five important emails will take ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is that you put yourself under a little time pressure, and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time, so it plays tricks on us, and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our team members to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening, and we get more focused and more work done. This will help when work feels overwhelming.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos to avoid getting overwhelmed at work. Schedule time for each task, especially high priority tasks, while also grouping together similar tasks. This will help relieve stress and anxiety in your daily work life.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done, and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer, and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one[3]. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend, or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss or a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away and will only make you feel more overwhelmed at work. You need to make a decision to deal with it, and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved.

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed, and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend about the problem.

    He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem, and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I pay a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first was: don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second: there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we are feeling overwhelmed at work (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

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    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

    It also means that, rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible, and you can make decisions about what to do about them.

    Often, it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be that you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    When work feels overwhelming, it’s not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work. It can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    It’s easy to feel like you have too much on your plate, but there are things you do to make it more manageable. 

    Make a decision, even if it’s just talking to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution.

    When you follow these strategies, you can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com

    Reference

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