Seven Weeks to a Different Way
Every year it’s the same old thing: December comes, you decide you’re going to make the coming year different and better than any before. You’re going to be more productive, get things done, and create the life and business you’ve always dreamed of.
So you sit down, pen and paper in hand, and start writing out your resolutions. The list looks great and entirely doable. Then you compare it to the list you created last December. It’s almost the same!
What happened? Where’d the year go? What happened to all those plans you were so committed to?
For most of us, the answer is pretty much the same: Great intentions don’t equal great results. Results only come from action. What’s missing is a tool or strategy for us to make choices that will make a difference for getting the results we want.
The cycle isn’t limited to December, though. Throughout the year we set goals or decide it’s time to do things differently and set out to make some changes. Results are pretty much the same. We start out with great intentions, do pretty well on follow through the first day. By the third day, we’re slowing down. By the following week, life has taken over, relegating all our plans to the back burner. Again!
What Makes the Difference?
There are any number of responses you’ll get depending on who you talk to. For us, though, strategic and tactical thinking, combined with accountability is the formula for success.
Strategic thinking involves looking at what it is you want to achieve. It’s not a process most people use when they set goals for themselves. It requires a broader perspective on planning. You have to be able to focus on what’s ahead, not just what’s in front of you now. What game changers might you be facing in your business? Are you able to look outside the box when creating your plan? It might make all the difference.
Some of the characteristics of strategic thinking are:
- Critical Thinking – This means going beyond the obvious, reframing problems to get to the root of a situation, and challenging existing beliefs and concepts. It could easily be some belief you’re holding on to that’s holding you back.
- Interpreting Information – Information and data that comes in is not always valid, and you need to be able to look at and evaluate it all. Looking for patterns in what is in front of you can open your eyes to opportunities or blocks, and again, questioning assumptions that you make about the information will allow you to evaluate what’s true for you and your business.
- Making Decisions – Non-critical thinkers will often get stuck in analysis paralysis. You must be able to make a decision, to choose a course. Your business and life depend on you making decisions to take action. Don’t’ look for perfection. Good enough is fine. And no decision is carved in concrete. As you monitor results, you modify your plan to achieve your goals.
Once deciding on the goal or result you want, a solid plan for action is needed to make it happen. Tactical thinking means you evaluate exactly what you need to do to achieve the goal. It’s not enough to “wing it.” Every step needs to be defined: What has to happen every day? Every week? Every month? Who is responsible for taking the actions? Without the tactical thinking, the solid planning, choosing a goal is a waste of your energy and time.
If you’re accountable only to yourself for getting things done, it’s easy to brush off, or put off a deadline or commitment. In a recent Shut Up and Write writer’s group, every member shared they knew they needed and wanted to get their writing done, but without the accountability of the group they just didn’t make the time to do it. When you tell somebody else what you’re committing to do and you have to report back on your progress, You do the work.
When you tell somebody else what you’re committing to and have to report back on your progress, you do the job. People don’t want to report in that they failed on a promise.
We all need some kind of system or strategy to move forward with specific goals. Without it, we tend to repeat past actions (or inaction) and don’t get to the result we want.
What We Know
People have great intentions. Especially in December and January, they make plans to change; to do things differently so they can exercise more, improve business, have more fun, make more money. And yet, when it comes down to it, the one thing they don’t change is how they plan for success. What we’ve seen is some common themes creeping up continually.
How many of these hit home for you?
- Your list of unmet goals gets longer every year.
- Your sense of frustration grows from not getting what you want and nothing changing.
- You miss opportunities. You’re stuck in past failures, or not making progress now.
- You’ve been successful to a degree but know there’s a faster, better way to move forward.
- Working too many hours and weekends is the rule for you, not the exception. And there’s always more to do.
- You have a to-do list that never ends and never seems to change.
- Your sense that no matter what gets done it won’t matter – there’s so much more to do
What if, instead:
- You converted your ideas to actions, knowing your results were within reach.
- Time was not an issue at all. Your schedule was in your hands to work when needed and still be able to enjoy the rest of your life.
- While being the captain of your ship, you had a group of people ready to jump in and help steer your course to success.
- You had clarity in the steps needed make progress on your goals.