How do you determine what your big goals are? I may be overwhelming you by using the word big, so let’s break it down. What are your goals for your 12-week plan? What about your monthly plan? Do you have these plans? Or does all of this overwhelm you? Many people in the goal-setting process get really overwhelmed with the idea of goals as they feel like they don’t instantly know what their goals should be. Or they get stuck on wondering if the goals they chose are good goals. Or the right goals. First of all, there is no wrong, because they are your goals.
First, let me help you understand why you want to set goals to be for a 12-week plan or a monthly plan. To visualize this best, we’ll look at the Eisenhower matrix. Stephen Covey talks about this a lot, it classifies your tasks as important, not important, urgent, not urgent.
As business owners, we spend a great deal of time on those urgent and important, upper-left quadrant tasks. They are client deadlines, answering emails about problems or with potential clients or to clients or about things that we’re involved with. We often talk about it as being in the weeds or putting out fires. It’s also referred to as working in the business, no on the business. These tasks take up a lot of our time.
If you think about the tasks, like a jar of rocks, all of those urgent, I need your attention right now tasks are like sand, and they will immediately fill in all the nooks and crannies in that jar. Your jar will be filled with sand if you don’t first place in the rocks that represent your planned tasks. The best thing that you could do for your own sanity is to schedule the things that you have as a priority that maybe are not urgent for the sand to move around. Right? But the bigger problem is not how to schedule the rocks, it’s what the rocks should be.
That’s where we’re starting. And that’s what I want to talk about today. So what should those rocks be each week, each month, and each quarter? Well, as I said, by looking at that matrix, you’re getting an idea that they should be important, but the secret here is that they’re the non-urgent tasks. They are the things that we want to do, but they’re not loud. They’re the “oh, I’d love to do this. If I just had the time” tasks. The tasks that you would love to do, and know you should do, but let the sand fill up space where you should do them. It is those non-urgent tasks that often are what fulfills us. They make us happy. They make us feel like we have a purpose. They make us want to get up in the morning. They make us excited about our work. And when you start putting those off constantly, they make you burn out.
So what are the things that are on your list in the back of your mind? Those little whispers that you really wish that you could be doing, but you just don’t have time, or you need to make money right now or prioritize things? Now, these things could eventually be making you money. And often the things that we put off are the things that really could be increasing our revenue if we only had the time to work on them. Or they could be something completely separate from your work such as a dream trip or a hobby. These are the things that you wake up after a year, and you go, I’ve been thinking about this for a year or years, and I still have not done it. Will I ever get to it?
You need to start prioritizing these things. And by prioritizing, start to put together a 12-week plan and then a monthly plan, and then a weekly plan. Work backward from a 12-week plan of five things you want to get done, and don’t make them all about work. What’s are some fun things you can include in there? They don’t have to be huge projects. One could be a simple thing that takes five minutes, but that you’ve been putting off forever. The idea is that you’re prioritizing what is important to you. That you are telling your brain, not only do I want to think about these things, but we need to make time for them.”
The second part of that is in your monthly and your weekly plan, you are actually putting time in your schedule and allowing yourself to do it. Sometimes we have to move it around a little bit, but by having those deadlines, you start to give yourself an understanding of, okay, I can push it, but not too much. It’s ok to move them to next week, but don’t fall into the trap of never taking action because you don’t leave yourself time to do them. Interestingly it’s often the case that especially if we’ve procrastinated for months or years, that when you finally do the thing, you find that it really didn’t take you as long as you thought it would.
I encourage you to think about what are the things in your life that you desperately want to do but never seem to do them. What are those little whispers? What are those projects that you put off? What are those trips that you dream about? It’s not about buying big expensive things or spending lots of money. I’m talking about the things that we really want to do, but we just don’t allow ourselves the time to do them. For me, this used to be reading during daylight hours. I know, it’s a weird thing. We all have our weird things, but I started to make time for that and prioritized that made me a much nicer person to be around.
Think about those things. Put them into your schedule and make time for them. Those important non-urgent tasks are the things that will make you love what you do the most and probably move your business forward the most. Start to listen to those things that you want to be doing, but you don’t seem to give time for and start to make them a priority. Make that 12-week goal with them, make that monthly goal, put them into your schedule, and get those things done.