Everything big starts little.
-Author Unknown

Chunking Your Goals

The purpose of an effective plan is to clarify and focus behaviors on highest priority initiatives and action steps.  This plan becomes the road map to success.

Leadership Development Coaching

When changing any behavior, or thought, one must be absolutely committed to changing it.  In committing to new, time must be set aside for investing in direction of our goals and dreams.  There are numerous applications for investing time in our new from David Allen’s Getting Things Done to Moran and Lennington’s 12 Week Year.  There is also an abundance of writing on building good habits which I believe strengthens our ability to stay committed and will be covered in this discussion.  Finally, choosing a framework for capturing behavior is essential to staying committed whether it be a journal or a formal process.  Let’s start by building the first step in the process which is to think about our goals in terms of chunks and not in their entirety.

I have worked with numerous individuals who have used the process laid out by Moran and Lennington in 12 Week Year as a framework for setting and achieving goals. The concept behind looking at the year in four quarters is that in chunking down the year into four segments of twelve weeks each, expanded opportunities for success are created.  When you think about it, this suggestion makes a ton of sense.  The statistics for New Year’s resolutions that make it beyond January range around 10% which indicates that many people do not have the momentum to remain focused on what was important on January first.  Also, when we know that we have until December 31st to reach a goal, we often put off activity on it until later in the year.  Many sales teams see this happen as fourth quarter tends to be the stronger quarter for many sales organizations.  Getting a jump start on goals that require accountability and measurement over a twelve-week time frame leads to greater success with goal attainment.

Other authors have supported the concept of breaking goals down into manageable parts.  Jack Canfield in The Success Principles advises us to break down our goals to avoid being overwhelmed by the expected outcomes.  He shares that by using mind maps as well as connecting with other individuals who have accomplished what we are about to undertake allows us to build action steps that align our behaviors with success.  David Allen in Getting Things Done refers to this process as going from the ‘Big Picture” to the nitty-gritty.  In getting to the nitty-gritty, we focus on behaviors and tools that allow us to accomplish tasks at the level that work really happens.  If these two resources are not enough to convince you of the need to break your goals down, just search the internet on the topic-there are at least three pages of references on how to break your goals down!

Now that it is known that we increase the odds of success when we break down goals into smaller parts, let’s return to the twelve-week year.  Due to the limitations of space with this article, I cannot cover all the aspects of the twelve-week year but will cover what are a few critical aspects to success.  The authors review three principles which are the foundation for the process: accountability, commitment and greatness in the moment.  For them, accountability means having the freedom of choice but once the choice is made we have an ownership to see it through.  Commitment is the personal promise made to ourselves once the choice is made along with accountability projected into the future.  Greatness in the moment refers to the willingness to do the things that lead into your greatest success-even when you may not want to.

Next, the authors share the five execution disciplines which are the foundations for consistent action.  The first is vision.  What is your vision for yourself? Do you have a clear picture of what you want to happen?  Do your personal and business visions align?  When we can align these two visions, it creates an emotional connection needed for sustainment of commitment and continual consistent action.

Once you have your vision in place, you begin to work on the plan.  The purpose of an effective plan is to clarify and focus behaviors on highest priority initiatives and action steps.  This plan becomes the road map to success.  John Norcross in Changeology also advises that a plan be developed prior to engaging in goals.  He shares that resistance to planning is fed by the drive to begin immediately on the goal relinquishing any roadmap to guide the process.  One of the quickest ways to derail change efforts is to not have a plan for how one will reach success.  It is only when we give structure to our goals by planning the steps to accomplish them do we increase the opportunities for success

Planning is followed by process control which begins with the identification of tools and events that align daily actions with the most important actions for ultimate success.  Ensuring that you focus your time on critical actions for success, these tools and events are essential to creating the outcomes you want.  Tools and events are followed by measurement.  Often, we can identify goals and what actions steps we need to accomplish our goals yet we frequently forget how and what we are going to measure.  What I like about the twelve-week year process is that you evaluate yourself daily.  Without a consistent process for checking in with ourselves, we may find that we return to our habits and forget our commitment to the new behaviors.  The final discipline is the use of time.  If we are not able to control our time, we will not be able to control our results.  This can be a difficult discipline for some as it may mean saying no to some requests and people.

Chunking down goals ala The Twelve Week Year provides a guidepost for a full range of activities that lead to ultimate success.  It is through organization and structure that behaviors which lead to achievement can best be aligned with goals.

To Your Success!
Dr. Peggy

  • Moran and Lennington- http://www.12weekyear.com/author/brian-moran
  • Jack Canfield- http://www.the successprinciples.com
  • David Allen- http://www.gettingthingsdone.com
  • John Norcross –http://www.changeologybook.com
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