- Not knowing, not doing, and the knowing-doing-gap keeps us from achieving our goals.
- A desire-fueled approach enables us to turn our goals into results.
- Track the percentage of time spent doing focused, productive work towards your goals.
At the start of a new year, we typically take account of what we have accomplished and what we would like to accomplish in the current and coming year(s). We find new determination to set and achieve our goals.
Yet many struggle to achieve the goals they so resolutely desire. We may fall into the blame game – blaming our situation or ourselves for not achieving them. Living through the challenges of the pandemic can make achieving our goals more daunting.
Learning to turn goals into results is important.
Having and achieving goals leads to having and living a life of meaning and purpose. Of the many hurdles that can get in the way of our achieving our goals, broadly speaking they fall into four areas.
Not knowing Sometimes the problem is that we are not clear about what we want. We don't know what success would look like. So we meander in our efforts. In the absence of clarity, efforts are less directionally focused.
Not doing. Analysis paralysis is the swamp that can suck anybody in, but it is a special hazard for the more intellectually inclined. As they try to maximize and optimize choices, they incur the costs of indecisiveness and inaction. A mindset of risk aversion and reluctance to act leads to the next cause of failure to turn goals into results.
The knowing-doing gap. We know what our goals are at this point, and we often know what to do. But for many reasons, prominent of which is fear, we don't do the needful. We may not know how to do what is required.
Circumstances change. Sometimes, however, extraneous circumstances beyond our control limit what we can do and force us to change our goals and how to achieve them. Buffeted by circumstances, our priorities change. We encounter losses – health, finances, and relationships – that narrow or close options, forcing us to accept what is, adjust accordingly, and accommodate the new normal.
How to turn goals into results
There is a straightforward approach to turning our goals into results. It’s much like embarking on a road trip. It starts with having the desire to visit a destination. That leads to doing the required planning and preparation before setting off on the journey. Acknowledging the possibility that we may encounter road closures and detours that delay us can help us focus on reaching our destination. We can apply the same principles at scale to achieve our short-term and long-term goals.
Desire is a powerful force of human nature. Advertising, branding, and marketing professionals harness it effectively. You, too, must tap into the power of desire to help you accomplish your goals. Generate within you a burning desire to achieve specific goals. Thinking of this process as strategic intent gives you the heuristic to align all you think and do towards achieving your goal(s). Shift your mindset from resisting what is required to the opportunity and ability to do it. This subtle shift from “I must do this” to “I get to do this” will allow you to take pleasure in and derive additional benefit beyond the task—giving you an added boost to do what is required.
Strategic intent in Sanskrit is known as sankalpa, a heartfelt desire, a solemn vow, an intention, determination, or a one-pointed resolve to do something. A sankalpa is a tool meant to harness the will, and to focus and harmonize mind and body on a specific goal. Your sankalpa is not just your intention. It's your heartfelt desire: What you are meant to do in the world.
Planning is essential to achieving goals. An effective way of planning is to analyze, prioritize, and develop an operational plan. An excellent place to start is by taking an inventory of where you're spending your time.
Over 13 weeks, track where you're spending your time at 15-minute intervals. Then analyze the data by simply grouping the specific activities into types of activity. For example, a senior executive discovered she is spending 30% of her time in meetings she initiates, of which 80% are one-on-one meetings and 20% involve teams of people. Another 20% of her time goes into performance reviews. And so on.
What percentage of your time are you spending doing focused, productive work towards your goals? This simple analysis gives you insights into what to stop doing, what to prioritize, and when to spend time aligned with fulfilling your desires. You can use the insights to then create a plan–for the year, quarters, months, weeks, and down to what you will accomplish each day and where you'd spend your time in 15-minute blocks. Bringing this intentionality alone provides the nudge to keep you focused on working towards achieving your goals.
Doing what is required is at the heart of achieving your goals. Three capabilities help. First, learn to manufacture time. Focus on the 20% of the effort that will get you 80% of the results. Don't do that which you can have others do. Delegate. Second, build a team to help you in your journey. Think of elite athletes: They have an entire team of coaches, nutritionists, sports psychologists, and friends helping them prepare for and achieve their goals. Lastly, you don't have to do everything all at once. Activate the power of compounding. Doing tasks incrementally but consistently over time accrues tremendous outcomes. This is the secret behind overnight success, which takes years of consistent and directionally focused effort.
The power of intentional living
Even the best-laid plans can sometimes be ineffective in helping us achieve our goals. The beauty of intentional living is that we can be agile - we can change our goals, come up with new plans, and take the required action to achieve them. Knowing what your goals are, planning and preparing to achieve them, and then doing what is required consistently is a proven recipe for success.
You’ve got this.