Staying focused on your goals can be hard work, especially if you have too many goals, goals that are competing with one another, or have too many other things robbing you of your time.
Trust me; I’ve been there. Last year I was trying to keep this blog and The Daily New Year’s Podcast rolling along while training for my first half-marathon, building a deck on my house, and writing my first book. It was insane, and you can read more about my 2019 adventure here if you want to.
Today’s post is all about overcoming those types of problems.
I’m proud to say that I managed to get the deck done, I ran my first half-marathon, and the book launched sixteen days as of today. Woohoo! Yet, to achieve all that, I had to put my blog and podcast on hold for seven long months.
They say that an expert is someone who has found every way to fail in a particular subject, and last year I learned a ton about how to fail with goal setting.
You see, before I decided to put my blog and podcast on hold, I was frantically trying to crush all of my goals at the same time, all while maintaining a loving relationship with my wife and continuing to perform well in my career.
I was doing a decent job at most of that, but I wasn’t doing a bragworthy job at any of it. Not to mention, my progress was slow, and my frustration was high—incredibly high!
For the longest time, I was working against myself, and I was beating myself up as payment.
As I made next-to-no progress on my book, I was starting to resent my blog and podcast. Each week my goal was to release a new blog post and a fresh episode of the podcast. The problem was, the production timeline took the entire week. So, every time I managed to hit my deadlines, it was time to start all over again.
It was like watching Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, except this time it wasn’t funny, and my book wasn’t getting done.
I was frustrated!
I started talking through this problem with the guys in my Mastermind Group, and they helped me realize that I had just taken on too much at the same time.
With their help, it dawned on me that, to stay focused on my goals, I would have to eliminate the competition between my goals and prioritize the goals that mattered most. I began researching strategies for staying focused on my goals and found a few tactics that worked exceptionally well for me.
All of that to say, if you’re having trouble staying focused on your goals, I want to help you overcome the struggle that I faced for the better part of last year—the struggle of the juggle as I’ve heard it called.
If we’re lucky, I can help you shave months off of that struggle and help you crush your goals even faster.
If you’re ready, let’s dive on in!
Use the FOCUSED Framework to Choose the Right Goals
We’ve all probably heard about SMART Goals, right? Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Sure, this is a good model, but I don’t believe that all good goals are measurable, and if all of your goals are achievable, then perhaps you’re not aiming high enough. (That’s a debate for another post.)
In my experience, SMART Goals lack an emotional connection to the goals you want to achieve. Shouldn’t we be setting goals we’re optimistic about? Shouldn’t we be setting goals that are significant, unforgettable, and truly energizing?
Heck yeah, we should be!
I’m sorry; I’ll try to stop plugging my book, but it’s fresh off the press, and I’m incredibly proud of it!
The FOCUSED Framework is also an acronym that I designed to help people evaluate and choose good goals—goals that they can stay focused on all year long.
It looks like this:
Applying the Framework
When goals are future-focused, you can imagine life after achieving them—they help you build a better future. When you’re picking the right goals, you should be optimistic about pursuing them, AND you should be optimistic about being able to achieve them.
Goals that are challenging, are attainable, but they’re not guaranteed—you’re going to have to work at it. Unforgettable goals stick in your mind. These are the goals that always seem to be top of mind. They keep you up at night, and you wake up excited to work towards them.
Good goals are significant, not only in size but in what they are going to do for you and your life. They have a significant impact. Goals should be hard work, but when you’re chasing the right goals, they should be energizing. They should feed you more than drain you.
Lastly, good goals should be deadline-driven. You’re going to feel amazing when you crush your goal, but if the goal drags on forever, you’re going to begin to resent it. And, if your goal matches the above criteria, you should want it to have a deadline anyway, right?
So there you have it, The FOCUSED Framework.
When you use this model for evaluating your goals, you can ensure that you’re pursuing all of the right goals. I’ve found that, for many, following this model can help eliminate uninspired, meaningless goals. With those goals out of the way, you clear your path for making massive progress on your most important goals.
However, if after following this framework, you still have too many goals to get them all done, you need to work towards prioritizing your goals and removing the goal competition.
Avoiding Goal Competition
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, last year, I had a ton of goals that I wanted to achieve, and they all fit The FOCUSED Framework. But just because goals are good goals doesn’t mean you’re going to have time to crush them all.
Goal Competition is one of the Four Cs of goal setting and it states that one of the most significant barriers to achieving your goals is the other goals you have.
In other words, if you’re trying to train for a half-marathon, you probably shouldn’t be trying to build a deck at the same time. And if you’re trying to write a complete book on goal setting, you probably shouldn’t be blogging and podcasting every week.
Sometimes goals can compete for our time, energy, resources, money, attention, or any number of other things. When you try to chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either one. That’s the problem I was suffering from last year—I was chasing an entire colony of rabbits.
Then, my friends and family helped me realize that the book was my most important project.
Pick Your Most Important Thing
Yes, by not blogging or podcasting, I could have lost some of my audience, and people may have thought that Daily New Year’s was just another fizzled and faded blog among thousands of others who had come and gone.
But of all my goals, my book was my most important thing.
The book would establish long-term credibility, give me more content and research to explore on the blog, a deeper network to lean on for the podcast, a platform to build an online course and coaching program on, a message to deliver on stages around the world, and so much more.
The Daily New Year’s community is fantastic, but the Crush Your Goals! message could ultimately help so many more people. Once I realized that putting everything on hold to complete the book was a no-brainer.
What are the things in your life that seem to be competing for your time and attention?
If you’re going to stay focused on your goals, you’re going to have to take a step back and determine what’s most important. That’s not to say you have to abandon those other goals, but you can defer them until a time when you can give them the attention they deserve.
To stay focused on your goals, it’s just as essential to pick the goals you’re NOT going to pursue, and that’s where Warren Buffet’s 5/25 Rule comes into play.
Apply Warren Buffet’s 5/25 Rule
For many of us (and yes I’m including myself), we can list out all of our goals and to-dos and then determine which items are the top priority. Where we tend to go wrong is when we try to focus most of our efforts on the highest priority item while also trying to chip away at everything else on the list.
Yes, we have our priority items, but we’re also a little addicted to multitasking. Getting a little bit done on a lot feels more productive than getting one thing wholly done, but it’s not.
We think that we’re doing an excellent job in prioritizing when we focus on those top-level goals and to-dos. Still, when we allow ourselves to be distracted by the non-priority items, we sacrifice our focus and progress. Not to mention, we cause ourselves to feel overwhelmed and stressed at the same time.
To overcome this problem, Warren recommends listing out the top 25 things that you need to do in the coming future. Nothing is off-limits—write down your top 25.
Then, circle the top 5 out of your 25. No more; no less. It may be difficult, but you can do it!
Now, what are you going to do with the other 20 items? Chip away at them in between your top five goals or tasks? NO!
The 5/25 Rule states that the lower 20 items on your list are now your Avoid-At-All-Cost list. Yes, you read that correctly. You need to avoid the lower 20 items on your list until you accomplish the top five things on your list.
Do Not, Under Any Circumstance…
The only real requirement of this technique is that you do not, under any circumstance, move onto items 6-25 until you complete ALL FIVE of the first tasks. Do not complete number 1 and then pull number 6 into your top five.
Complete your top five most important tasks and then reprioritize your remaining 20. You might find that some are no longer important or necessary at all. You might find that some of the items are suddenly higher in priority. There could be new items that are more important to your old items.
Things are constantly changing, so by focusing on your top five and then reprioritizing, you can truly stay focused on your goals and get more stuff done.
Staying Focused on Your Goals
Using the three simple yet effective strategies outlined above, you’re bound to see massive improvements in your ability to stay focused on your goals. It all starts with choosing goals that you’re excited to achieve. The FOCUSED Framework will rarely steer you wrong. Start with that.
Then, ensure that your goals are in direct competition with one another. They could be competing for your time, energy, resources, and so on. If you identify competing goals, be sure to save one for a later date.
Lastly, use Warren’s 5/25 Rule to allow yourself to focus on only five tasks or projects at a time. This strategy is more about identifying what you’re NOT going to do. Pick your five and stick to the plan.
Have these worked for you? If you haven’t tried them yet, do you think they will work? I would love to know! Drop me a comment below and let’s chat about it.
Now, go Crush Your Goals!
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.