Today is Part 3 of my series on The Art of Getting Things Done. If you missed Parts 1 and 2, go back and get read those posts to gain even more tools that will support you into preparing yourself for a productive 2020.
While I'm all about setting goals and creating your vision for the new year, when it comes to being productive and taking action to achieve those goals, you need something more......you need a process or a systems!
The problem with focusing only on your goals is that you can often take the process for granted. It prevents you from looking at every step in the process as an achievement, as opposed to feeling unsuccessful until you’ve actually reached your goal. With a focus on just achieving the goals, and not all of the milestones in between, you might feel like:
Measuring success this way can make you feel defeated, especially if you have big, ambitious goals.
What's worse is that once you achieve the goal, most highly successful people don't give themselves time to even celebrate that success before they're on to the next new shiny exciting goal. Or worse, you might feel like since you already accomplished your goal you can go back to your old habits instead of continuing to push yourself to grow.
In the end, this could cause you to lose all the forward progress and momentum you've made.
What if, however, you focused in on the process or the system, you've created or developed to actually achieve your goal?
A systematic process allows you to:
So what's the difference?
Scott Adams, the author of the famous Dilbert cartoons, wrote about systems in his book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life.
He explained the difference like this: “Losing ten pounds may be a goal, but the systematic process is learning to eat right.”
Here’s another example. Suppose your goal is to clean the house from top to bottom. You’ve spent the whole day cleaning, and you momentarily feel satisfied with what you’ve done.
However, if you haven't created a systematic process on how to keep your house clean, your home will quickly fall into disarray.
Can you relate??
You revel in the glow of clean house and then after a few days…
...the dishes will overwhelm the sink, the laundry will pile up, and the floors are a complete mess. Ugh!
On the other hand, instead of looking at the clean house as your goal you develop a cleaning system or routine. Instead of cleaning the entire house in one day, you train yourself to conquer one room at a time or to do small tasks each day. The result is a house that’s tidy for more than a few hours AND it's tidy every day.
Of course you can create the best system of all and hire a housekeeper! 😏
Let's look at a business example:
Goal: Generate $50,000 in revenue over the next two months.
System/Process/Routine: Every morning make three cold calls and two warm calls (or however many is necessary) to potential new customers and current customers.
See the difference?
It's not the setting of the goal that gets you the results....it's the system or process that ensures you reach that result.
Listen, having a vision is important so I hope you're not hearing skip goal setting and just focus on process. It's actually not an either/or thing, it's an "AND" think. Goals inspire, motivate, and challenge us. They give us something to look forward to and a reason to continue striving and pushing forward.
But without a process, goals can often become an unrealized idea or pipe dream.
Now that you know you need to create a systematic process, don't forget to create something you'll actually do AND hopefully enjoy doing. The key is to find what works for YOU.
For example, if you set a goal to exercise three to four times a week on a rigid schedule when you've either never exercised before or hate exercising, there’s a much higher risk that you’re going to give it up and NOT hit your goal.
Instead, choose to be active each day at a level that feels good. Go for a walk, take Zumba or a dance class, take up yoga or stretching for example.
This way you'll be slowly training your body and mind to enjoy being active as opposed to hating it and you'll naturally want to challenge yourself as you continue to enjoy being active more.
Productivity expert James Clear in his book, Atomic Habits, wrote:
“When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running. And a system can be successful in many different forms, not just the one you first envision.”
Creating a systematic process for every goal you set will teach will not only greatly develop your skills, it will help you to actually achieve your goal. And, if something isn’t working well, or you realize you don't enjoy it, you have the flexibility to adjust it to something that works for you.
That’s the gift of celebrating every little step along the way to your big audacious goals; and there's no better time than right now to get started on that process.
Live, laugh and unapologetically shine!