Follow through…our biggest personal and organizational challenge. In its absence, big ideas and visions never become a reality; in its absence, we over promise and under deliver; in its absence, we are never able to change results and outcomes.
So how do we get better at this? How do we ensure that a larger percentage of our goals, objectives, and intentions are attained? Because I would not be a good blog writer if I did not have some type of numerical process for accomplishing this, I will give you a proverbial “Three-Step Process”:
1) Clearly understand your goal. This is not a goal-setting article; however, you need to make sure that:
- Your goal is specific and is under your full control
- Your goal is measurable
- Your goal is realistic and attainable (I would love to save $1,000,000 this month, but unless one of you fine people make that contribution or choose to purchase advertising on my articles (YOUR LINK OR PRETTY PICTURE CAN BE HERE!), that goal is not going to happen).
- Your goal is relevant and meaningful.
- Your goal has a deadline.
2) Plan. You know what they say, “You fail to plan you plan to fail”; while I may not know who “they” are, “they” were right. We should never adopt or commit to a goal without first developing a plan. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves that can help us do this better:
- What behaviors do I need to START doing to accomplish my goal?
- How much time will these behaviors take and will they take away from other commitments and priorities?
- What are my compelling reasons for doing this?
- When will I schedule the behaviors necessary to accomplish the goal?
3) Stay motivated. This is much easier said, well in this case typed, than done. I realize that. You can buy all the awesome motivational t-shirts from Target or Nike that you want, but all that is going to do is decrease your bank account and give you too many t-shirts. We need to be committed, even when we do not want to be…and quite frankly, that is our problem today. We give up way too easily; when things get hard or we do not get the same “pleasure” as we did when we started, we give up. Shame on us. But there is hope! (“So you’re saying there’s a chance?”) Here’s how we can stay motivated:
- Remind yourself why you committed in the first place. Remember those compelling reasons and articulation of meaningfulness? They do come in handy. They’re purpose isn’t to just make you feel good as you start. It’s the fuel for the fire, the gas to the engine, the cream cheese to cheesecake!
- Know how you will stay focused on the goal. Consider creating visuals, reminders (I’m sure there’s an app for that), creating a scorecard, or having someone constantly remind you. Whatever you decide, stay focused.
Follow through is difficult for all of us. Some of dream big dreams and never plan, some of us plan but do not have any discipline, and some of us simply do not dream. Wherever you find yourself, I urge you to dream big, plan strategically, and stay committed. At the end of the day, you should know your “why”. Not having a “why” is sad, depressing, unfulfilling, purposeless, and dull (kind of like a cloudy, 35-degree Monday in January). Do not let that happen to you.