5 Steps to Achieving Your Most Important Goals
Do you feel like you're always busy but don't seem to be getting anywhere? Do you have a lot of goals and aspirations? Like most people, you probably have a lot of things on the ‘I would love to do’ list. So much so, that it can be overwhelming to know where to start, or how to prioritise your goals.
Check out these 5 techniques that can help you prioritise your most important goals and achieve them with less stress.
1) Prioritisation is Key - You Do Not Need to Achieve All your Goals at Once
The first technique is to prioritise your goals. What is the most important ambition that you want to achieve? Write it down and put it at the top of your list. Then, work on prioritising the rest of your goals based on their importance.
One way to prioritise is to ask yourself how achieving each goal will help you move closer to your overall long-term objectives. For example, if your goal is to buy a house then priorities tasks may include putting aside a set amount of your salary every month.
Another way to prioritise goals is by their deadline - what is urgent and a priority? If you have a goal that needs to be achieved in the next month, it's likely going to be more important than a goal with a deadline of six months from now.
It is important to be realistic when goal setting. If your goal is something that seems impossible, it's likely that you won't be motivated to achieve it. So, make sure that your goals are achievable and realistic.
The most important thing is that you take the time to sit down and think about what's truly important to you and what you want to achieve. Once you've done that, it will be much easier to start taking action towards your goals and stay focused.
2) Plan to Succeed
Creating a plan is the first step towards taking action and achieving your most important goals. A plan will also help to hold you accountable - if you've written down that you're going to take action towards your goal, then you're more likely to stick to it. According to a Forbes article, people who very vividly describe or picture their goals on paper are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals. Time to get that planner pad out!
A plan helps to break down your goals into smaller, more manageable tasks. For example, if your goal is to start a business, your action plan might include tasks like researching the industry, writing a business plan, and finding funding. It is important to set deadlines for each stage of your plan to keep you on track and focused. Breaking down larger goals into smaller tasks will feel achievable and avoid overwhelm. The key is to create a realistic and achievable plan that you can stick to.
Another tip to make your plan a success is to ensure that you create your plan in one place. Not only will you be able to track your progress but also ensure that you are on track to achieve your goals.
When you're trying to be efficient with your time, it can help to batch similar tasks together. This way, you can avoid having to switch gears too often and can stay focused on the task at hand.
For example, if you need to arrange several meetings at work, try to do them all at once instead of spreading them out throughout the day. Or, if you need to respond to a bunch of emails, set aside some time specifically for that instead of checking your inbox every few minutes.
Batching similar tasks together can help you work more efficiently and get through your plan in no time (plus it helps with point 4).
Creating a plan is a great way to start taking action towards your goals, but it's also important to be flexible. If you find that something isn't working, don't be afraid to adjust your plan accordingly. The most important thing is that you keep moving forward and making progress.
3) What is urgent versus important?
When you're trying to be efficient with your time, it's important to know the difference between urgent and important tasks. Urgent tasks are those that need to be done right away, like responding to an email or putting out a fire at work. Typically, urgent tasks tend to contribute to someone else’s goals. Important tasks are those that contribute to your long-term goals, like preparing for a career break or pitching for a promotion.
It can be tempting to always focus on the urgent tasks because they seem more pressing, but if you want to achieve your goals, it's important to prioritize the important tasks. The Eisenhower Matrix is a great tool for help you do this.
The Eisenhower Matrix is a decision-making tool that helps you prioritize tasks by urgency and importance. Here's how it works: you take all the tasks on your to-do list and put them into one of four quadrants:
- Quadrant I: Urgent and important (e.g., responding to a work email)
- Quadrant II: Important, but not urgent (e.g., writing a business plan)
- Quadrant III: Urgent, but not important (e.g., attending a networking event)
- Quadrant IV: Not urgent and not important (e.g., scrolling Tik Tok...sorry)
The design of our Task Matrix Planner has been influenced by this method. It aims to truly identify the tasks that should be top of your list and what are the items that can be de-prioritised. This allows you to focus on the most important goals of the day.
4) Create Focus Time for Deep Work
When you're trying to achieve a goal, it's important to eliminate anything that might distract you from your task. This may mean putting your phone on silent (and switching off notifications) and blocking out your calendar for uninterrupted work time.
Deep work is a term coined by Cal Newport that refers to the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It's a skill that he believes is becoming increasingly rare in our constantly connected world.
There are two types of deep work: deliberate and spontaneous. Deliberate deep work is planned in advance and typically lasts for several hours. Spontaneous deep work happens when we're in flow state and can go on for much longer periods of time.
The best way to achieve deep work is to create focus time, which means setting aside specific blocks of time where you will not be interrupted by meetings or calls, and you will not allow yourself to be distracted by things like social media or email.
Block out time in your daily planner pad to ensure you have time to focus on productive work.
5) Do your most important work when you are most productive
When are you most productive? Everyone has different times of the day when they can do their best work. If you can, take advantage of that time to do your most important tasks that require high concentration.
For some people, that time is first thing in the morning, before the rest of the world is awake. For others, it’s late at night, when everyone else has gone to bed. And for some people, it’s somewhere in between. There is no wrong answer here – it's all about figuring out what works best for you and then making the most of that time.
No matter when your most productive time of day is, make sure to use that time to do your most important work.
Doing your most important work during your most productive time will help you get it done more quickly and efficiently and leave you free for more important tasks (cute dog reels, anyone?).
So, there you have it, 5 techniques to help you get started. These tips will help you focus on what's important and get things done resulting in more time and less stress.
Remember, being goal oriented does not mean you can’t take breaks. Below are our top Productivity Boosters to ensure you approach goal setting in a balanced way. Save it for when you might need a reminder :)
My Recommended Book List for Goal Setting
Looking to shift your mindset and stay focused on what matters most? Here are some books that can help:
- Your Best Year Ever - Michael Hyatt
- Essentialism - Greg McKeown
- Rewire Your Brain - John B.Arden
- Deep Work - Cal Newport
- The 80/20 Principle - Richard Koch