“I’ve got a 2 -year goal to achieve my next position,” said a client recently. She explained that she has a time-consuming, multi- stage project she needs to accomplish first, however, which if she completes early, will make it possible to leave before 2 years. We often have long term goals that depend on tasks and projects that precede them. This makes planning and organization of time, materials and actions more challenging.
When we’re faced with a looming end goal complicated by an important, shorter term project, we can get overwhelmed hyper focusing on one to the exclusion of the other or go back and forth chaotically between the two projects. Here are some strategies that can help us work steadily towards a long- term goal while making progress on sorter term but essential projects:
- Map out in big strokes initially the tasks necessary to achieve the long- term goal. A two- year goal might be broken down into stages with benchmarks to achieve every month or quarter.
- On the same large spreadsheet or flipchart, in a different color enter the near- term project with its high-level sub goals and associated benchmarks.
- Identify the priorities for each benchmark according to the ABC rule:
- time sensitive or urgent and important, B- important, or C- not urgent and not important in the near term.
- Plan out the first month of tasks for each week with a high- level look at the 2 yr. goals and a more detailed eye to the near term one.
- “Chunk” tasks for both goals- break the work into 15 min- to- several hours each week to chip away at the projects. Careful! Be realistic about the time you honestly have available to put towards both goals.
- Review your progress each week and, if tasks are planned daily, each day. Did you put the time in you planned or did life get in the way? Adjust your plan each day, each week, and each month to hit your benchmarks.
- Assign a specific time on your schedule in writing to work on a specific task. If we say, “I’ll do it tonight,” that is not specific enough…suddenly it is 10 pm and we’re fatigued- after 3-4 nights like that we can find ourselves behind schedule and discouraged!
- Ask for help!! Family, Teammates, colleagues across disciplines can offer information or take on parts of one or both goals.
- Reassess the end dates for each project. Is the 2 -year goal for the new position a want or a need?
- If you are getting behind, hard on the facts but be soft on the person. Self-talk can demotivate us if we are overly critical when our plan goes awry.
- Finally: Celebrate! Celebrate both the benchmarks you achieve along the way as well as the completion of each goal!