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What is the most important part to setting goals?
Is commitment the most important part?
Is it the process of identifying and setting big, audacious goals?
Is it in envisioning desired outcomes?
All these things are important. I can’t shoot any of them down.
But what I’ve been discovering is that actions are what make the biggest difference.
Setting a goal and then doing nothing is a sure way to fail. We shouldn’t obsess over the actions because that’s an easy way to fall into analysis paralysis. But we still need to plan our work and work our plan.
Here’s what we need to know about actions to be effective:
If we were to look broadly, there are only two types of actions.
The first type of action is a promise. Now, a promise can be made collectively if you’re working with a team. But generally, it refers to something you’re committed to doing (with a clear deadline).
The second type of action is a request. You can’t really make a request of yourself, so this is all about requests you make of others. What are you asking them to do, and by when?
Defining actions like this tends to take all the muddiness out of the equation, don’t you think? There are only two types of actions you can take, and that gives you clarity on next steps.
Once you have these pieces in place, it’s simply a matter of creating a scoreboard and tracking results as they happen.
Let me unpack this so you can see all the components:
If you’ve been with me for any length of time, then you already know that I only set 90-day goals. Since a 90-day period is made of up three 30-day blocks, I create a milestone for each 30-day period (the third milestone represents the destination, and there are two steps on the way there). Then, I look at weekly actions – promises and requests. I’m starting with the end in mind and unfolding backwards.
This structure removes all the guesswork of setting and achieving goals. I can look at my weekly actions and know whether I’ve done them. I can see whether I’m on track.
The secret to getting what you want is creating a plan, following it, and making adjustments as needed. It’s in making promises and requests.
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