Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Are you focusing on what's important?

We all have things we say are important to us, but somehow we don't get around to working on. We say they matter and we really are going to get around to doing something about them someday. Somehow too many other things get in the way. Weeks, months, and years can go by and we don’t make any progress.

If we are not careful we become one of those people who blame circumstances, pressures with work, or feeling uncomfortable about making the effort when our dreams don’t come true.

If you have something that matters to you, there are some really simple steps that will ensure help make it a reality:
  1. Be clear about what you want to achieve. Write it down, talk to other people, iron out the inconsistencies in your goal. Work on it until you understand it so well, are so familiar with its implications and in the process have made it an important part of your life.
  2. Set targets, deadlines and other quantifiable goals. Setting a target number or a deadline forces us to think about how realistic our objectives are. Will customers really pay that much? Can I really get everything done by that date? Is the volume sufficient to meet our objectives or do we need to do more? Too often we think things will fall into place closer to the time, but in face all we have done is avoided the difficult thinking.
  3. Plan how you are going to do it. Once you know what, and how much, and by when you can then start figuring out how. Planning takes time and isn’t particularly easy, but without a plan you won’t know what to do. Or worse still, you will do the wrong things. Having a written plan, will make sure that the big, pivotal things get included.
  4. Track your progress. Include measurable milestones in your plan, and then track your progress day by day, week by week, month by month so you know whether you are on track. This simple act, which is a result of the 3 steps above, will make sure things happen when they should, or get brought back on track if they slip.
  5. Review. Sometimes things go well, sometimes not so well, but there is always something to learn and changes that should be made in order to achieve what you want.

I’m not saying these steps don’t take time, because they do. I’m not saying they aren’t intellectually challenging, because sometimes they are. But I am saying that they will make sure the things that are important to you actually happen.

At work they are called KPIs, or key performance indicators: the crucial things that must happen in order to keep business plans moving forward. The concept is universal: at home, school, social groups or pressure groups. It takes some effort, but delivers results.

So what are you waiting for?

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