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One simple tip for staying on track towards your goals is to write your weekly goals on a marker board in your office. This isn’t a to do list. It’s a list of the important items you expect to have accomplished by the end of the week. On the left side I write my primary goals for the week (maximum of 3), and on the right side I list my secondary goals (this week I have 9 of those). I setup my primary goals such that achieving even one of them is better than achieving all the secondary goals combined.
Whenever you achieve one of your weekly goals, just draw a line through it. Don’t erase anything. Then at the end of the week, your marker board contains your accountability record for the week. You can see which goals you achieved and which you didn’t, and then you can think about how you can improve next week. Maybe you tried to do too much. Maybe you succumbed to too many distractions. Maybe you achieved most of your secondary goals but none of your primaries. Or maybe you achieved all your goals and believe you can push yourself a bit more next week.
I keep most of my planning docs and lists on my PC and then print them out on paper periodically, but I like using the marker board in my office for posting my weekly goals. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the actions of the day and not be able to see the forest for the trees, and when you look at your long-term goals, they may seem very distant. So I like having these weekly mini-milestones, since there’s a natural rhythm to a week, and when I do my weekly review and update all my planning docs, a quick glance at my marker board helps me set new mini-goals for the coming week.
I also like that whenever I see my marker board, I see my goals for the week, and this reminds me of where I want to be by the weekend. Again, these are goals — outcomes — not just tasks.
For example, this week my top two primary goals involve sticking with a new exercise program. The first goal was to do my new morning exercise routine every day this week, and the second goal was for the evening routine. This split routine takes about 120 minutes per day, most of it doubled-up with reading or listening to audio programs. My third primary goal was to complete the outline for my first info product. I’m on track to achieve the first two goals (haven’t missed a day), and I’ll complete the second goal today. I know some people wouldn’t place a new exercise program as their primary goal, but based on my goals for the year, it’s the most important thing for me. In fact, my #1 goal for the year is actually a health/fitness goal, not a business one. So your primary and secondary goals need to be based around what’s most important to you, whether they’re personal or business related.
Instead of using a marker board, you could post your weekly goals in other ways, but I like the simplicity of the marker board. And there’s just something so satisfying about drawing a line through one of the goals that’s been achieved, much more satisfying than erasing it. It may be because when you erase your completed goals, you only see what you have left to do. But when you see some items crossed off, you can still read them and recall, “Hey, I finished that one.” So there may be a hidden self-esteem boost that comes from reinforcing the message that you’re getting things done. At the end of a week, I don’t just want to see a list of what I didn’t get done. I also like seeing what I actually did accomplish.