How To Move Your Goal from To Do to Done
Have you ever met someone and knew right away that you were meant to be friends? It could've been something they said that resonated with you or just the way you felt at ease with them…so much so that you couldn’t wait to connect with them again.
Do you know what I mean?
When this happens in romantic situations, it can be almost intoxicating. Not the ‘drunk in love’ type that Beyoncé describes. But the kind Babyface professed…when you only think about that special someone on two occasions…day and night. You think...how wonderful he is or how intelligent she is…you’ve encountered perfection…finally! 🤣
This phenomenon is an example of the power of a new affection. It dominates your thoughts, time, and other resources. Then, after the newness wears off and you begin to see the humanity of your new mate, attentiveness to the object of affection tends to wane.
This is not exclusive to love affairs. It's a familiar pattern for the creative entrepreneur.
Get a new idea. Excitement. Joy. All you see is Possibility. Float the idea past a few trusted people. They agree that it’s great. More excitement. Outline a strategy to get it done. Create sub-steps for each strategic step. (End up with 87 steps, each with 22 sub-steps.😣) Start step one. Get distracted by life. Question the idea. All you see is Impossibility. Shelf the idea.
Since you are creative, a new idea tends to be waiting in the wings for its opportunity in the limelight. Then begins the vicious cycle…again. I call it the Concept Loop.
The obvious result: A “shelf” full of unfinished projects and uncultivated ideas. This leaves many feeling like failures. They experience shame. And become reluctant to try again.
I describe this journey because I know it well. Though I never quite considered myself a true Creative until recent years...I have come to appreciate that each of us has a creative power within that requires practice to express. Therefore, any person can find themselves stuck in a Concept Loop, no matter where they are on the ‘creative spectrum.’
First, please know that no portion of any journey is ever wasted. I have only realized and learned to embrace this truth in the last several years of my life. Every uncompleted item on my proverbial shelf has taught me a thing or two about myself, timing, and the discipline of execution.
When running a business (or a household, which is like a business…can I get an Amen?!), there is no time to get caught in a perpetual Concept Loop. Progress comes from consistent execution of goals set. As a former school educator, I recognize the process as a more valuable component than the product. However, product (i.e. results) is still necessary.
I have learned to exercise a set of strategic practices proven to lead anyone to their desired “product,” both in personal as well as professional life. Most of this is gleaned from The 4 Disciplines of Execution. Its steps combined with my other personal and professional development applications have yielded progress and an exit ramp off of the Concept Loop!*
Set your eyes on your goal. Choose just one. Physiologically, this is the best approach. MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller declares that our brains are not meant to focus on multiple tasks at once. It overloads the brain’s processing capacity and limits its ability to do any of the tasks well. Remember: Multi-tasking is a myth! Focus on one goal.
Also, be certain that your goal is wildly important. It should inspire and stretch you. It’s alright if it scares you a little or if you don’t feel “ready” for it. Most successful people make bold moves in the face of their fears and before they perceive themselves as fully prepared.
Move on the lead measures instead of the lag measures. Lead and lag measures are terms used in business marketing regularly. A lead measure is predictive in nature and it drives the outcome before the lag measure, the measurement of the outcome. For example, when I first began writing my blog, I took note of how many readers and subscribers I had after each month and which content readers preferred (lag measures). Then I developed a strategy before acting to engage more readers which included increasing my postings from once weekly to twice (lead measure).
To move toward finishing what is started, there must be an outline or list of the possible lead measures. What will help me to lose ten pounds by June? Exercise regularly. Increase my water intake. Curb eating unhealthy foods. These are all examples of lead measures. If acted upon, they predict a desired outcome.
Did you know that 65% of people are visual? Therefore, the best way to track progress toward a goal is to have a visual representation, a “scoreboard.” It does not have to be a beautiful outline with graphics everywhere. It is best to keep the scoreboard simple and easy to identify where you are as you progress toward your goal. Also, it should be displayed prominently in your workspace for motivation.
I have a large whiteboard on one wall in my home office. I've used it to brainstorm ideas and work out my thoughts. (I’m counted among the 65%.) This month, I began using it to outline my scoreboard. You can do this on a piece of paper or poster board. Anything that can be easily seen and that will motivate you to keep going.
Create an accountability rhythm. Check in at least weekly on the progress toward the goal. Identify what was accomplished and learned. Set intentions for the next week. These meetings are best if held for only twenty to thirty minutes. They are only for discussion of the goal, not your commute or the last episode of This is Us or anything else.
If you are a solopreneur like I am, find a community that you trust that would hold you accountable in this process. You can meet in person, if possible, or via Skype to walk through this exercise. Your community can be one other person. So, don’t feel like you must find a whole team of supporters. Some prefer to engage only one or two people for this type of support. Others prefer to be their own accountability partner. (Beware: Sometimes we are way harder on ourselves than necessary. If that's your tendency, find someone to fill that void.)
Executing on goals is critical to progress. If you find that you have been unknowingly stuck in a loop of sorts, get out now! Engage these four steps: Focus, Act, Track Progress, and Be Accountable. Rinse. Repeat. You got this!
Until next time…
*Sometimes shelving an idea is the best decision. Sensitivity to where you are (spiritually, emotionally, physically), the timing, and your resources can help determine when to exercise this option.