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How To Totally Rock Your Goals…Even If You’ve Failed At Them Before

How To Totally Rock Your Goals…Even If You’ve Failed At Them Before
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Ever get that feeling that no matter how much you do, there is always a continuing onslaught of things you need to get done?

You had dreams, ideas, things you wanted to try out, and business concepts you know would put cash into your bank account…If only you could get round to doing them you would totally rock your goals!

But then, nothing ever changes. Just as you think you’ve got one time-draining activity out of the way, something else comes along to take its place. It’s almost as if the harder you work and the faster you climb, the steeper the hill gets.

Maybe you can relate to the idea of being on a treadmill at the gym. Each time you have a little success, someone hits the incline button to make you run at a steeper angle! I remember a busy mom describing this as one of her recurring nightmares.

Something’s Got To Give!

If you’re in this situation, it’s not your fault. You got here because you had the best of intentions.

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The reality is, though, the thinking that got you onto this treadmill is not the same thinking that will help you get off of it.

Thinking that you just need to get more stuff done, work harder, or work smarter is still treadmill thinking. It’s not going to fundamentally change anything. All that happens if you apply this logic is that you end up working harder, but still having more stuff come in to fill those precious little gaps in your schedule.

Real change comes from a new approach. Getting off the treadmill depends on starting from somewhere else – away from the treadmill – and applying a new logic.

Step Away From The Treadmill!

You see, the treadmill mentality focuses on dealing with incoming demands and getting through a to-do list. What you need to do to break free of the treadmill is start from:

  1. what you really want out of your life, and
  2. how you want to spend your time.

The first item – what you want out of your life – is fairly straightforward. For most movers and shakers, they’ve got this pretty well defined from the material through to their relationships and their inner world. I’m going to assume you know what you want.

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What is normally overlooked, though, is the second thing: how you want to spend your time.

“We live in an age where hard work and sacrifice are the myths of success.”

The truth is, this is just a paradigm, a way of thinking and seeing the world. However you see the world determines the rules you allow yourself to play by. If you think having what you want has to be hard work, guess what? It will be!

By contrast, if your view of the world is that you can have your life the way you want it, and that you just need to be a bit savvy around how you go about it, you’re playing a whole different game. One in which you open up the possibility that achieving your goals is fun, interesting and taps in to you doing what lights you up…as part of the process, not just the end game.

How To Eliminate The Treadmill And Still Function In The ‘To-Do List World’

“This is all very well,” you may be thinking. “Throwing away the to-do list, and just do what I feel like. But I have responsibilities: a job to do, a business to run.”

Quite right! I agree entirely, so let me clarify something, and then give you a method that you can use to operate in the ‘real world’.

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Firstly, this isn’t about shirking your responsibilities. There are still going to be things that you need to spend time doing. However, if you start from the premise that you should only do what you do best, and can re-delegate or outsource or swap with someone to get rid of the things that are frustrating you, then so much the better.

The Three Bubble Approach

Here’s the method to get real-world results, whilst refusing to get on the treadmill. Three bubbles a day keeps the treadmill away!

  1. Decide on what you really want out of each area of your life. Maybe set a goal for your work, a goal for your relationships, one for your family and one for your health and/or spirituality. Make sure you write these down somewhere you can keep referring back to them.
  2. Each week spend some time working on these things. Let’s use the work category as an example. Imagine your goal is to get more clients. Before you start your normal work or open you emails, take a piece of paper and write on it what you want to achieve that day in terms of finding more clients. It may be that you want to call up some old contacts, or send out an email to your list, or write a few letters to prospects. Whatever it is, put one or two items on the sheet of paper in bubbles around the goal “get more clients”.
    three bubble method
    •  Now look at everything else you need to make happen that week, and decide what category they fit into: maybe managing staff, maybe delivering presentations, maybe renewing your car insurance. Whatever they are, they fit into a category. Write those on the piece of paper too, and see what category you can assign them to.
    • Here’s the tough part. Each day you want to limit yourself to three categories at the most: this is where the three bubbles comes from in the method name.
    • You see, you lose so much time and momentum by constantly switching your focus and you want to minimize this. Only working on two or three categories a day seriously amps up your ability to be productive and stay in your flow. Select your categories for today now. One of these categories should include that first thing you chose that you really wanted to achieve, but probably wasn’t already on your ‘treadmill list’.
    • Each day, you do the same thing: only ever working on two or three categories (you can pick different ones each day). Sure, there may be a number of tasks in one category, so it’s OK to plug through each of those (just have them on spokes that come out of the category bubble, like a mind map).

    The key thing to remember is there is a magic that happens when you apply all your thinking and attention to just one area you want to crack.

    Imagine What Might Be Possible For You!

    If you follow this method, what you’ll end up doing is making incremental progress on only the things that matter to you – and not the things that just take up your time. Sure, you may get the odd thing that takes you off track that you need to respond to, but as long as you have this bubble diagram of your main categories for the day, you can always have traction on the things that are important.

    What’s more, you will always remember the things that are meaningful and important to the direction you want to go in. If getting more clients is important, by using this method there is no way you are going to miss or forget about an opportunity to make some progress in this area. You will flat out get this done!

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    This is a million miles away from the treadmill to-do list you may be using at the moment. What you can probably see already is that it takes the overwhelm out of making progress on something that is important to you, whilst still juggling the other stuff that needs doing. Focusing on just your elected categories for the day allows you to park the others, guilt-free, until their allocated day.

    It’s amazing how freeing this is. Just try it and see!

    What Categories Are You Going To Work On Today?

    OK, so over to you now. What categories are you going to select to work on today? Share in the comments below. It is super motivating to share, and see how others are applying these insights.

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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