We’re a few weeks into January. It’s that point where you’ve probably already encountered a few hurdles to the goals you set yourself at the start of the year.
Don’t beat yourself up. Life will throw an excess of demands and distractions at us as we pursue our goals. We must relentlessly say ‘Yes’ to our goals if we are to hope to be able to say ’No’ to everything that isn’t of equal importance.
To do that, we need a way to ensure that even when things get (sometimes unavoidably) in the way or we drift off track, our goals, and the larger purpose driving them, never slip too far from our attention.
A tool I have found incredibly helpful in equipping me to do just that is the Full Focus Planner from Michael Hyatt. That’s why I want to give you the chance to win one!
Here are three simple ways anyone can keep saying ‘Yes’ to their goals, and how the Full Focus Planner helps me do that –
1 – Write it down
in more detail
and more often
2 – Focus on them relentlessly
In the book ‘Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life’, Winifred Gallagher writes –
“Where your immediate as well as lifelong objectives are concerned, focus forges the connection between your goals and personal resources. Despite our cultural fixation with innate giftedness, the old-fashioned quality of grit may be a better predictor of real-world performance. Attention’s mechanics ensure that when you lock on your objective, you enhance that aspiration and suppress things that compete with it, which helps you to stay focused.”
The Full Focus Planner creates a framework designed to keep you focused on your goals by building them into the way you design your days, weeks, months and quarters.
One of the ways it does this is encourage you to create ‘Daily Rituals’, a tactic employed by many great thinkers, artists, inventors and more over the centuries.
The Planner, and Hyatt himself in the accompanying set-up videos, encourages you to consider and design four ‘rituals’ for each day –
- Workday Start-Up
- Workday Shut-down
The key is that the planner, and by extension your goals, become a reference point during each of these moments, and thus you build rhythms into your day that keep you continually coming back to what you yourself have decided is most important for your year, quarter, week and day. You build rhythms that help you say ‘Yes’ to your goals and priorities in lots of little ways, over and over.
Again, this is something that can done by anyone, with any kind of notebook. They key is to make it something you are referring to every day, throughout the day, so that you equip yourself to maintain focus.
3 – Clarify and execute
“As the authors of ‘The 4 Disciplines of Execution‘ explain, ‘The more you try to do, the less you actually accomplish.’ They elaborate that execution should be aimed at a small number of ‘wildly important goals.’ This simplicity will help focus an organisation’s energy to a sufficient intensity to ignite real results.”
– Cal Newport, ‘Deep Work‘
One of the other big ways we can say ‘Yes’ to our goals is by using them to clarify what is most important in any given day or week. The Full Focus Planner facilitates this in two ways – through the Daily Pages, and the Weekly Preview.
At the start of each week, the Planner is designed for you to sit down and reflect on your goals, the week just gone, and the week to come. It asks you to identify your ‘Weekly Big 3’ – the three items you must accomplish in the coming week to make meaningful progress on your most important goals.
This forces you to strip down all that you know has to happen in the coming week to the three big rocks – and not just the most urgent items, but the ones that tie back to your most significant goals.
Finally, the Daily Pages enable you to identify the most important three items for each given day – again, in light of your overall goals and priorities for the week. This is an invaluable touchstone in the midst of those whirlwind days when everything comes at you at once. It means you’ve already done the work of clarifying and prioritising when things get crazy, and you can simply come back to what you’ve already identified and move forward on executing.
The key in this is that the Daily Big 3 is not simply an exercise in choosing the top 3 items on your running to-do list. It is about proactively identifying what is going to move you forward on your key goals each day. This provides a defence mechanism against the all-too-common scenario of day to day demands crowding out our longer-term goals and priorities.
A few months in, I am loving my Full Focus Planner, and the tactics it helps enforce. If you are looking for ways to increasingly embed your New Year goals into your day-to-day, and make meaningful progress to advance your purpose, these tactics can be utilised by anyone.