February 18, 2014
rosemary published this at 6:01 am
By Angela England
I’ve stopped thinking in terms of daily “goals” and have begun thinking about creating daily systems that will create success in my life. I still have goals – lots of them – but I wake up each day focused on what I need to do, rather than what I hope to get. It’s a small shift, but highly effective, and here’s why.
Goals are Temporary and De-Motivate When They are Reached
I experienced this post-partum depressive state after I finished writing my first print book, Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less). Before, I had written prolifically and finished each project, eBook, or blog post excited and energized for the next thing to tackle. But Backyard Farming was so intense, and finishing the book was all-the-things to me, so when I turned in the last of the book I basically cried for a week and ate lots of ice cream. It hardly felt like a success to me.
What I realized is that I was waking up in the morning and thinking, “Now what?” instead of “Let’s go!” My goal was reached. The job was done. My brain had quit.
Since that point two years ago, I’ve written three additional books (one for a client and two for myself), launched a major course, added another blog to my roster, and tackled numerous guest posts and client opportunities.
Now, my daily system is to write 1,000 words a day no matter what. And in doing so, I’m able to be continually productive on a variety of tasks and projects. The shift was subtle but profound. The project may change, but the system of producing doesn’t.
The Habits Are What You Can Control
Whatever your business goals are — sign 3 new clients, sell 100 copies on launch day, or get a thousand readers on this blog post — you can’t really control those outcomes. You can’t force someone to click the buy now button or make someone share your post. You can control what YOU do, however, and that pushes you closer to the side of success. Think Steven Covey’s Circles of Influence and focus on those things which you can influence.
I can update my media kit, prepare some guest posts for a new book launch, and pick a conference to attend in order to connect with others in my industry face-to-face. Those actions will probably help me reach my business goals, of course, but by turning my energy towards what I can control, I’m infinitely more energized. And, therefore, more effective.
Reward Your Positive Action on a Daily Basis
One of my favorite things to do is to find effective ways of staying motivated in the areas where I want to be the most successful. It’s been great for me to find new ways to reward myself for daily habits that will produce long-term success in my business and life. Even simple things can be surprisingly effective.
For example, I don’t log into Facebook until I’ve written my first 500 words for the day. Usually, once I’m halfway to my daily goal, I just keep going all the way and often have 1,000 words done almost first thing in the morning. If I were to let myself jump into Facebook and other people’s plans for my day, I would find it more difficult to focus on the system for success that I’ve created.
Another thing I’ll do is avoid my favorite television shows until I finish the next chapter in my book, then reward myself with an evening marathon session to catch up. These are simple, perhaps silly examples, but they are stunningly effective for keeping me on the success side of the slight edge.
Goals Can Limit Your Focus and Ability to See New Opportunities
Lastly – goals lock you onto a set path and could actually prevent you from seeing the opportunities around you. I love this quote from an earlier post of Liz’s which says:
“Imagine opportunities everywhere you look. Lucky people know that opportunity doesn’t knock often. In fact, they know it doesn’t knock at all. People make opportunities from little things they see. Opportunity hides in the details. Look, listen, read, and search for ideas and trends between your niche and your skill set. Then bend and twist and turn those ideas to see how they might become uniquely yours.
Make a practice of looking at everything to see how you might improve it…how you’ll make it more fun, faster, cooler, friendlier, easier, quieter, more musical, lighter, more romantic, more exciting, more inviting, more anything…or less something.”
When you are so focused on a specific goal that you get tunnel vision you could miss a brilliant, but unexpected opportunity. Some of the coolest things that have happened in my life weren’t those things I could have scheduled or marked on a five-year plan. I still have a five-year plan, of course, but I realize that my system of connecting, producing consistently, and staying available to serendipitous encounters has empowered success in my life in brilliant ways.
What systems have you created to help propel you towards success instead of bogging you down in an external set of expectations?