On goal setting. How I do it. (Do not try this at home)

I was on the Air Europa flight back from Madrid sat with JC Duarte and Manuel Vidal-Quadras.  At a certain point we watched as JC pulled up an impressive iPhone application that allows him to track his time.  This led to a discussion about how to be effective with time.  I feel that I am not effective with my time and can easily waste hours on the unimportant (facebook, searching for information on Wikipedia and reading 10 other interesting but not directly relevant web pages).  I do however, tend to be good at achieving my goals. I know I could be a lot more effective, but keep myself to aim to achieve 3 important things each day.

I took some time to think about how I manage myself to achieve goals. I am interested in others’ strategys and tactics to effectively achieve the important things in their lives.

  1. Daydream & Visualise Benefits: I imagine myself in the future having accomplished the goal. I try to write a few words about this image. My top priority goal this year is write a book. I can see it available in all those airport bookshops that I pass on my travels.  I am too good at this bit and can sometimes end up living in a future, better world rather than being truly present in the here and now.
  2. Be Realistic: This is where I need to work harder. I find it easy to imagine the benefits and to be optimistic about achieving them, but hard to be realistic about the obstacles that stand in the way; and getting down to systematically overcome these obstacles.  I write two significant obstacles that will make it difficult to achieve the goal. Writing a book is a lonely process – I decided that I need to write 1000 words every day – and publish a blog post about once a week.
  3. Brainstorm: How can I overcome these obstacles?  The benefits can only come about if I am serious about overcoming the obstacles.  Is there a way to minimise the obstacles? How would someone else overcome these obstacles?  If I can’t see how to overcome the obstacles I think it is better that I admit that I am not going to achieve the goal.  I am not good at this.  I want to believe I can be great at everything.
  4. Action plan: 9 years of Accenture means I can do this in my sleep. Break the goal down into actions – list the actions.  Establish rewards for achieving significant progress points along the list of actions. Set dates. Write it down.  I like the feeling of crossing out actions as I complete them (like this).  No online tool has ever given me the same satisfaction as a big blue line drawn through the text on the page.  I have hired a coach to help me with the book. We have worked on a list of chapters – completing chapters is easier than completing the whole book in one go.
  5. Start: Just a few minutes right now.
  6. Public Commitment: I tell people that I will accomplish a goal.  I just told you that I will write a book.  I also want to give a speach to an audience of 5000 people one day.  I want to take my daughter to Disneyland (haven’t decided Paris or Florida).  I tell different people for different goals.  I have some sports/fitness friends and they know that I will run a sprint triathlon this year. It would be better if I was able to let them know about the obstacles and how they could help (sometimes with a simple “come on man”; the swim is the big challenge for me in the triathlon).  I attach a date to when I mean to achieve the goal.  June 6 is the sprint triathlon. August is the book. I need to decide what is the best age for my daughter’s first Disney experience…

My current list of life goals is on the right panel of this blog.

    Author: Conor Neill

    Hi, I’m Conor Neill, an Entrepreneur and Teacher at IESE Business School. I speak about Moving People to Action.

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