If I could boil down into one word what best helps us meet our goals, it would be FOCUS. The problem is that it is so hard to focus because there are so many distractions. We have phones, emails, screens galore and little time to just reflect and focus.
For the last two years, I have been using Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner to help me focus on goals and accomplish things I have never done. Now, I would be the first to admit that not every goal has worked out how I originally envisioned, but that is not the point. One of my favorite quotes is from former United States President Dwight Eisenhower, who said, “In preparing for battle I found plans were useless, but planning was indispensable.” Let’s face it. Next year is a battle, and we have to be ready for it. Nothing we do or want to accomplish will just be handed to us. We can receive the fruits of our labor, but there is some labor involved.
Two Reasons Planning is Important
1. Planning Breeds Results
If you aim at nothing, then you will probably hit nothing. Recently, I got the privilege of going ax throwing at a client event. One thing I learned is that there is a very specific way to throw an ax so the rotation will land on the wooden bullseye and actually stick to the wood. If you throw too hard without control, the ax can actually fly back at you. It takes your aim, focus, and some strategy to get the ax to stick.
In the Full Focus Planner mentioned above, you start by writing down SMARTER. In Hyatt’s book Your Best Year Ever, he defines SMARTER as Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Risky, Time-Keyed, Exciting, and Relevant. For example, a business might have a goal to increase revenue by $500,000 or 20% by December 31, 2020. You then have to break this goal down into smaller goals by quarter and by week so you can meet it. You might have to figure out specific actions you can take each day or week that will help increase sales.
Then, write down five key motivations on why you want to accomplish this goal. In the example above, what are the key motivations for increasing revenue? More diversified customers? More profit? Maybe you have a desire to help more customers meet a need. Your motivation could also be for your employees because a growing company also provides opportunities for growth, retention, and excitement in your employees.
Thirdly, you write down the next few actions you can take to meet your goal. This might be as simple as setting up a calendar meeting or sending an email. Maybe just 5 contacts a day is all you need to consistently bring in leads and prospects.
The last thing to do is to write down how you will celebrate when you accomplish your goal. If it is team-oriented such as a revenue goal, maybe you throw a happy hour or take them to lunch. Maybe everyone takes a trip if you have the money to do so. You could take a day off to relax. The key is that you do something to celebrate.
Perseverance and grit are important for the success of any person or business. We know that much of life will not go as planned, so we have to persevere, assess, and make adjustments. When you have a measurable goal and you take a step backward, it is much easier when you have a defined goal with motivations and actions to get you back on target. If you do not plan and have an unfocussed and unclear idea of what you want to accomplish, it is much easier to just scrap the idea or get distracted by something much easier. I find that the Full Focus Planner helps me stay on track when things don’t go well and I need perseverance in the following ways:
1. Weekly and Quarterly Wins – We need to write down what is going right because it is usually much better than we think. I find this exercise to be uplifting, and many times I will write them down each day.
2. Assess how far you got on your Weekly Goals.
3. Write down what worked and what didn’t.
4. Go through your tasks and determine what you keep, improve, start, or stop doing.
Each week, usually on Sunday night, I spend time going through my calendar and tasks and writing down my wins and weekly goals for the next week. This focussed time has been essential in helping me persevere and stay focused.
I am not getting paid to strongly endorse the Full Focus Planner. This planner is an excellent goal setting and focusing tool to help you get things done. Michael Hyatt and Company look for ways to improve this planner each year. Take some time to do the hard work and set goals, but put together a focussed plan to actually accomplish what you need to do personally and professionally next year.