As a coach and consultant, I work with many people who have a lot on their plates: business owners, executives, entrepreneurs, managers, sales professionals, and many more. In working with these individuals and their teams, a consistent behavior keeps coming up: most are list makers. Almost all of them make lists of things they need to do, personally and professionally. This is a great habit. Many of the most successful people are list makers. Yet though my clients share this behavior of list making with super successful people, they have all sought help because they recognized they aren’t achieving their goals as quickly as they’d like. What have they been missing?
Busy vs. Productive. Ask anyone how they’re doing and a common response might be “Busy, really busy!” There’s no lack of work to be done. You can work on email, voicemail, check social media, review numbers, deal with “fires”, and be busy all day, but those activities do little, if anything, to help you drive the results you want. Sure, you’re busy, but are you productive? Our clients write their lists of “To Do’s”, but they often found by the end of the day, or end of the week, that the biggest, most challenging items, that were directly tied to their goals, were left unchecked, still solidly yet To Do. This led them to say things like “I ran out of time” or “My day got away from me” or “Some unexpected things came up that I had to deal with”. Excuses, every one.
Prioritizing. We have an infinite amount of choices to make, every day. We often get lulled into our routines and don’t even realize the choices we are making because they have become habits. Routines and habits can be very good, as long as they are helping us achieve what we want to achieve. But when we follow old habits because they are comfortable, and that leads us to do things we’ve always done, we will almost always fail to do things differently, and that is exactly what is needed in order to get new, and different, results.
So if you want different results, you must do different things. Giving priority to the items on your “To Do” list that support your biggest goals will help you move in the right direction. Spending even 15 minutes on a goal every day will help you to achieve it. This means making tough choices, or trade-offs. There are only so many hours in a day, so we all have to make conscious decisions to spend our time on activities that support our goals.
Waiting to “feel” like doing it. The American psychiatrist, Harry Stack Sullivan said “It is easier to act yourself into a new way of feeling than to feel yourself into a new way of acting.” Most of our clients know what they need to do in order to achieve their goals. So if they don’t need our services to identify the “what”, why did they seek help? They realized they needed help holding themselves accountable to actually do what they already knew they needed to do. Michael Phelps, who holds more gold medals than any other Olympian, certainly had days when he didn’t feel like getting out of bed to work out in the gym, or swim laps in the pool, but he did it anyway. How did he make himself do that day after day, when he really didn’t feel like it? He used a schedule, and he had help by having a coach.
Schedule yourself with yourself. As I mentioned earlier, our clients knew what they needed to do. They had lists of To Do’s. The step they were missing? The key reason they sought help to achieve their goals? They needed help creating a plan. They needed help scheduling their daily activities. I meet with my clients every week and they determine the activities they will take in the coming week. They decide which day and time they commit to doing these activities, and they block out time on their calendars. The plan and schedule the activities they need to do on their daily and weekly schedules, in order to achieve their goals. They don’t leave it to chance that they will remember to do these things when they “have time”.
Accountability. It is a misnomer when people say “Someone needs to hold those people accountable.” No one can hold other people accountable. The only person who can hold you accountable is yourself. That said, we all recognize that we are much more likely to keep our promises and commitments that we make to others. We know it is a reflection of our character and reputation, so we are careful to meet those expectations. When it’s just you trying to work on your own goals, there can be a tendency to adjust your plans and your schedule when unexpected things come up. When you have a coach, you are much less likely to allow outside forces to have a negative impact on your plans. That’s because you, and your coach, know that you are the one calling the shots. And if you decide to change your plans and not work on your own goals, you’re the one shooting yourself in your own foot. Having a coach helps you achieve your goals much faster than you could on your own. Having a coach adds that feeling of making a commitment to someone else, even though we all know it’s really you, committing to you. The psychology behind it works, really well.
Results. Every week, at least one of my clients mention to me they took action in the past week to work on their goals because they knew they were going to be meeting with me, and didn’t want to have to report they failed to accomplish what they had committed to themselves.
If you have goals you want to achieve, and want to achieve them faster, follow the steps above. You will find time you have been spending on unproductive tasks, or on things not as important, and will have more items checked off on your To Do list.
Retail Level Up provides coaching, training, and consulting services to individuals and teams. Visit www.retaillevelup.com to learn more and to schedule a free consultation.