If you’re like me, you’re reading this headline and saying, “Great. Yet another Medium article about how to ‘vastly improve my life by doing this one easy thing!’” Well, this one really will ‘vastly improve your life by doing this one easy thing!’
Here’s the idea: Write out 1–2 goals you want to accomplish in the upcoming week. Do it on Sunday as that is the day before what most people consider to be the start of the week, Monday. Put those goals on a post-it note and slap it down wherever you will see it most often — your desk, bedside table, bathroom counter, etc. Two main points on this idea.
First, you limit your goals to one or two because that far increases your odds of actually achieving them. If you have five to ten goals, chances are you’ll get lost in the fog of your busy life and accomplish none of them. By choosing just one or two you narrow your focus and create a mindset of “Come on, you only have these two goals for the week. You have to at least get those done.” How does this manifest during your week?
I’ll give you my own example from this week where my goals were: 1. Write three Medium articles, and 2. Write out my core exercise training program.
I’ll start with the second goal. I’ve been seeing a personal trainer for the past month to start me on a training program emphasizing strengthening my core (abs, lower back, glutes…) He’s given me several exercises and stretches to do and I needed to put all of that info together into one comprehensive daily program or I knew I wouldn’t do them. I’d been busy and putting this off the past few weeks. But I knew that making it one of my weekly goals would force me to, in the words of Larry the Cable Guy: Git-R-Done. The result? I Got-R-Done.
My Medium article goal even better illustrates the value of this idea. How? I wrote two articles Monday through Thursday. I’d hoped to write the third on Friday, but alas, my mojo left me and I got nothing done. Weekends are normally a hard time for me to write because of my three munchkins (11, 9 and 3-year-old kids) and all of their sports activities, etc. But I only set two goals for myself this week and therefore felt I had to get this done.
So take a wild guess as to what day it is as I’m typing these words? Yep. Sunday. Otherwise known as Last Chance Sunday. My daughter has a basketball game in an hour coached by my wife, which = you-know-who is in charge of my 11 and 3 three-year-olds. In other words, I need to put the pedal to the metal and get this article done soon because I know the day will get out of control after the game. So onward we go…
The second main point concerns the type of goals you set. Don’t think they have to be related only to concrete areas like work (“Sell two cars this week”) or working out (“I want to swim laps four days this week…”). Include the things in your life that truly matter to you. For example, if you’re a busy tech entrepreneur immersed in a startup, maybe one of your weekly goals would be to have dinner with your significant other at least twice. Or put your kids to bed at least twice and take them to school once.
If you’re a stay-at-home-mom overwhelmed with kids in diapers, maybe one of your goals is to get a massage. Or read a set number of pages in your book.
If you’re unemployed, maybe you set a goal of sending your resume to at least ten places. Or set a goal of rising at seven each morning and working out to start your day off on the right foot.
This idea of setting goals in all areas of your life is best expressed in Stephen Covey’s fantastic book First Things First. I highly recommend it.
Finally, if you want to set three goals in one week, go ahead. Just make sure that the third one is ultra-easy. Something like calling your mom once.