10 Planning Shortcuts to Light a Fire Under Your Goals

shortcuts reach goals

It’s almost February… do you know where your goals are?

Look, your month is almost up and a lot of 2013 goals haven’t even gotten started. But the good news is you still have 11 months to start making progress.

Truthfully, just getting started is often the hardest task. Here are some simple shortcuts and techniques to light some fire under your goals and get you moving:

1 – Quote Seinfeld:

Get a monthly calendar and cross off each day you successfully complete a desired activity. Once you have a series of days in a row, you won’t want to break that chain. It’s an uncomplicated method that’s often credited to Jerry Seinfeld. Record your chain on a  dry erase wall calendar.

2 – Commit to One Month:

New habits take hold after 30 days. Set your sights on doing one particular activity each and every day in February (plus two March days = 30). Make this your personal commitment – by March you should have a healthy new habit. Mark your monthly calendar with reminders of what you’re working toward.

A good alternative to a monthly calendar is a portable monthly planner, like our Essentials Notebook Planner.

3 – Get in the Zone:

It takes 15 minutes of dedicated work for you to achieve focus, or get “in the zone.” Before you begin an important goal-related task set a timer on your smartphone for 15 minutes – a computer app, egg timer, or stopwatch works too – and commit to working with laser-sharp focus until the bell rings. Once you’ve achieved flow the next hour will be a productive one.

4 – Mark It Down:

The best way to become attached to your goals is by creating a permanent written commitment in a journal or notebook. I recommend you choose a handy pocket-sized journal like the “Plan. Write. Remember.” notebook by At-A-Glance.

Try these steps for using a journal or notebook to track your goals:

  • Write down your goal and its objective – be specific!
  • Assign yourself a deadline and put it in permanent ink
  • List your goal-related tasks
  • Track your progress each day with a written summary of what you did to move forward
  • Review your journal daily and maintain a personal connection to your goals

5 – Stick It Up!

A trick used by many successful professionals is to keep reminders of your goals on places you frequent. It could be as simple as putting a sticky note on your computer monitor, vanity mirror, or car dashboard. It’s all about creating visual cues to keep you on track.

At the very least, I recommend sticking a list of your goals on your refrigerator using a product like a Self-Stick Hotlist. Every time you reach for a soda you’ll remind yourself what you hope to accomplish.

6 – Take 5:

Create a morning habit that ensures your goals will be part of the things you accomplish each day. Over breakfast or a cup of coffee, dedicate 5 minutes as your set time to create priorities. List your top activities for the day and include tasks that directly pertain to your goals.

Use an organizer with a formatted to-do list, but a notebook works as well. It’s the best way to ensure you’re working on what’s important.

7 – Improve Your Vision:

Another great tool for keeping you on track toward your goals is a vision board. Write down a collection of words, pictures, phrases, mantras, or anything else that would provide motivation to keep working when you’re feeling uninspired.

Keep it in a visible location, like a bulletin board or dry erase board on a wall near your desk. This self-adhesive mini WallMates® dry erase board is a highly-recommended product.

8 – Get Smart:

If you’re not getting anywhere it’s likely because you didn’t set good enough goals. You’ve likely heard about the SMART system for setting goals — that’s because it works!

Spend a few minutes running through your goals and make sure they meet the SMART criteria:

  • Specific: clarify your outcome
  • Measurable: create objectives that can be charted
  • Actionable: start with an action verb
  • Realistic: ensure it aligns with your life
  • Time-bound: give your goals a deadline

Goals that fit the SMART criteria give you a stronger set of directions for the activities you should be doing today and tomorrow. SMART goals greatly improve your chances to succeed.

9 – Create routines

Lump together your most important tasks into daily routines and repeat them on a day-to-day basis. Routines give you structure, and reinforce the types of positive habits you want. When aligned with your goals daily routines make it easier to reach success.

Here are some daily routines to consider:

  • Morning routine: exercise, eat breakfast, make bag lunch
  • End of workday routine: send email, write in work journal, clean desk
  • Project routine: schedule deadline, read notes, plan tasks, list resources needed
  • Bedtime routine: set coffeemaker, plan tomorrow’s outfit, read 1 hour

Routines work best when they are written out as a list and kept somewhere accessible like your day planner, then write the name of your routine into your daily calendar at the same time each day.

10 – Buddy Up:

Here’s a simple but effective shortcut: share a goal with a friend, colleague, or family member. Get someone else invested into the same results as you, such as a co-worker in a business project or a friend working toward a fitness goal.

Now, you will not only feel responsible to yourself, but to someone else as well. It’s a surprisingly effective way to make you accountable.

Let’s Face Facts…

Most resolutions never get off the ground after one month, and many never will. But you can increase your odds of reaching success by using a few of these few shortcuts to get yourself rocking in 2013.

We want to hear from you

What do you think? Do you think these tips will help you reach your goals, or do you have a better way to get your year off to a better start? Please comment below.


4 thoughts on “10 Planning Shortcuts to Light a Fire Under Your Goals

  1. Jeff excellent pointers. Working on it but keep writing and reinforcing. It is hard work to form a system and to stick by it ‘self discipline’! Trying and your regular contact is a great help to carry on and not to give up!
    Jeff one has to be determined to do what you tell us otherwise it won’t work! I am trying so keep writing to us who want to improve and achieve what we want in life!

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