Your tools for progress & success in life: Goal Setting & Focus
Constant goal setting and laser focus is something that, now I reflect on it, seems like an evident answer to how much I have advanced skills and career wise in the past two years, but, was mostly done naturally/by intuition up till now.
I read, about six months ago, a really good book called "The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results" by Gary Keller and it talked almost entirely about those two items.
So, let's try and define those terms, plus, give you advice and example on how to implement them in you daily life and work.
Goal setting, here, takes on a wide definition and is not about have one and only goal but more to go through the process of constantly having goals.
Goal Setting: Timeframe
You should be setting goal not for in X years but for this day, this week, the next 90 days, the next year and the next 5 years. There are different sizes of goals and some can only fit in years from now, while others, are really need to be accomplished today so that you can move on with a project.
The goal you set for yourself to attain in 5 year will naturally involve smaller steps that will become your 1 year goals. In turn, your 1 year goal will involve 90 days goal and so on.
Goal Setting: Frequence
The thing with goal, especially the short term ones, is that they are in constant movement. Depending on what you accomplished yesterday you might have new thing planned for today, or, you are catching up as you got distracted and didn't get to finish what you set out to do yet.
You will constantly be updating your goals. I personally try to take 10 minutes every morning to hash out what I need to accomplish and take 1 hour or so every week to update my goals for next week plus all the longer term ones if needed.
Goal Setting: Context
Now you might be thinking of a there is a conflict here, we want to be setting only one goal per time-frame but what if we want multiple thing. Well, here's the solution/middleground you should keep having only one 5 year goal say, for your career, but, it's evident that you will have a different set of goals for your family, other ones for your love life and other ones for your personal improvement. Have as much "set of goals" as areas of your life you consciously work on daily.
Focus is your secret weapon for removing a lot of the decisions and emotions from the process of you progressing towards your goals. Focusing on only one thing at the time not only makes your workload appear less intimidating but allows you to give 100% of your attention/concentration to the problem/activity at hand, in terms, leading to a high quality outcome than if you tried juggling with few things at the same tame, or, had that other thing on your mind bothering your.
Focus: On What
When we speak of focus here, we mean it in the sense of focusing on one activity, one work item. Your goal setting time and planning/meetings should do the job of thinking out what is the logical next steps, in what order you need to accomplish tasks. But, when you are sitting at your desk, alone, ready to work, you should focus on the smallest next step to achieving the next item on your to-do list, that's it.
Focus: As a habit
Many people don't expect things like success, happiness, health, relationships to be things you have a lot of control on, but, most people that are doing really good in those areas of their life got their voluntarily, got there by working on having good habits so that cultivating all those becomes second nature. So many great books and resources talk about habits and how powerful of an impact they can have on your life if make a concious decision to weed out the bas ones and work on the good ones.
(TL;DR) Set your goal (note the lack of plurial) for the day, week, 90 next days, 5 next years, adjust them continusly as you progress, don't forget it's normal to have a set of goal for your work than for your personnal life than for... It's essential that when you sit down to work you have already planned and prepared what is next too be done so you can simply focus on the next small task at hand, it's a real productivity enabler. Focus can be built as a habbit, as many other healthy habits, it will definitively make a better you if you stick with it long enough