One of the keys to creating and sustaining personal and professional impact is productivity. Everyone knows it, but improving productivity is difficult. There are too many distractions and things competing for our attention.
I have been fascinated with goal achievement and productivity for as long as I can remember. Given all we know, why is it that just three weeks into a new year 72% of people who set new years resolutions have abandoned them. Before you quickly pass over this startling fact, pause for just a moment. These goals and dreams that are so easily abandoned are filled with impact. Positive, life changing, impact that would change the lives of the people we love and lead.
Last year, I set a big goal. A goal that 82% of adults dream of doing. On my way to the finish line, I had a few “Ah-ha” moments that were critical to getting to the finish line. The learnings, like so many powerful ideas, are not genius—they really are simple. But just because we say something is simple does not mean it is easy—right?
So, here is what I learned about raising the productivity necessary to achieve a big goal. By the way, less than 1% of the 82% of people who dream of this goal ever finish.
- Focus on the vital few.
- Don’t run alone.
- Find your coach.
Focus On The Vital Few
One of the principle reasons for a lack of goal achievement is the lack of focus—the pursuit of too many goals. You don’t need a lot of goals. You just need to execute them one at a time. Steve Jobs said,
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
You will raise your productivity by focusing on the vital few goals that have the greatest potential for positive return and impact.
Start here: What are the three most important goals you need to focus on to positively impact the people you love, teams you lead, or causes that stir your heart. Get your thinking clear.
Don’t Run Alone
I am a goal achievement research junkie. I used to hang my hat on a study that was attributable to research done at Yale University. The study claimed they followed the achievements of a group of 1953 Yale graduates. In 1973, it was suggested that only 3% of the graduates in the study wrote their goals down. The claim was those 3% represented 97% of the wealth in the class and thus the study has often been quoted as the basis for written goals.
The study never took place. So, is there any supporting evidence for written goals?—yes! In a study by Dr. Gail Matthews, she found powerful evidence to suggest you should not run alone. People who write their goals down achieve 42% more of their goals than people who don’t write them down. Even more powerful, people who write their goals down and share their progress on a weekly basis achieve 63% more than those who simply write their goals down.
Find Your Coach
Coaches take you places you cannot go on you own. Too often we try to undertake significant goals and try to do it on our own. Great coaches prepare you for the race. They help you discover your best so your level of preparation will exceed the requirements of your race. The secret to great preparation that positions you to get the most out of the time you have to pursue a goal is to engage and enlist the support of coaches.
Engaging a qualified coach was critical to my pursuit of this big goal and ultimately achieving it. Bob Nardelli, the former CEO of Home Depot said,
“I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.”
So what was my big goal?—to write a book. Writing a book was one of many projects I was trying to advance simultaneously. If you were a reader of my blog, you must have noticed I stopped posting frequently. I didn’t stop writing. Instead, I began testing my premise about goal setting.
As I coach people, continue researching, and pursue impact, I have concluded; if you want to maximize your impact with the people you love, teams you lead and causes that stir your heart, put these three steps to work.