I want to encourage you all to set goals and priorities for the year. This is one of those things that is super important– even though some people put it off because they feel like it’s dumb. Or maybe they set resolutions in the past and never met them.
Don’t worry if you didn’t set any resolutions in January. This is about creating your priorities, and making this year the best one yet.
What I want you to do this year is write down as many goals and priorities as you can. These can be things that you have been putting off, or other things that you would like to accomplish this year. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just say, “I want to make more money”, say I want to make 2000 more dollars per month, or 10,000 more per year. Put a number on it and then prioritize it; at least the rank the top three.
This part is going to be really hard. Narrowing down your focus is something that most people don’t do; they might be able to write the list of things they want to do– that part is easy. You can be creative and come up with all sorts of fun things. I’d love to learn to play the guitar, I’d love to travel. But if you don’t prioritize, you are never going to do any of the things on your list. Like Confucius said, “The man who chases two rabbits catches none.”
You need to do the hard thinking– figure out what’s most important to you, what you would most like to accomplish this year. If you didn’t accomplish anything else, what are the top three things that you would like to accomplish? Figuring out what’s number one will probably be the hardest, but once you’ve done that, the rest of this year will get a lot easier because it helps frame your decisions. Any time you’re wondering how to spend your time or what deciding what you should do today, you can look at your list and asked the question: “Does this help me achieve my number one goal?” And really what you’re doing is eliminating distractions. The only reason you rank three is in case you finish number one. Then move on to number two, and then if you finish number two, you move on to number three. Your goal is to focus on one thing at a time until you’ve completed it, then you move on to something else.
Focus can be an incredible asset. If you put your energy and focus into accomplishing a single thing instead of getting pulled in multiple directions, you can accomplish so much more than you thought possible.
What is your #1 priority?
So, what is your one thing? Is it increasing sales by X amount? Is it getting five more clients? Is it adding twenty people to your e-mail list this month? Whatever it is, write it down. Once you’ve decided it’s number one, you can look at what’s related to actually accomplishing it, work backwards, and figure out what steps you need to take to get to accomplish it.
If you say “I want to get twenty more subscribers to my e-mail list in the next month”, that’s great. Now, each day when you sit down in front of your computer, it’s time to work on your project. Ask yourself, “What can I do to get another subscriber?” Does that mean going down your contact list and emailing everybody saying “Hey would you be interested in joining this?” Does it mean to tweet out to top influencers on Twitter? Following other people and getting them to re-tweet your stuff? Whatever it may be, you’ve got to figure out the best way to hustle and make it happen.
Once you know what your priorities are, it frames everything else and it makes decisions a lot easier.
One of the things that Mark Ford talks about is how important it is to narrow your focus. When he was younger, he was told by a mentor to pick a singular focus for the year. He struggled with that, and it finally came down to the decision that he wanted to make more money. That was his number one goal because doing so would then free him up to do number two and number three, which for him was travel and teach. So he focused on making money and that helped him save a little bit every day. It changed the way he approached his work, allowing him to bring in extra income.
Your focus doesn’t have to be making money (and actually, I recommend you pick something more specific). It could be related to your job or your passions. Whatever you choose, it’s very powerful because having a single point of focus gives you clarity. There’s so much noise in the world. Knowing what you want and what you’re chasing after makes it so much easier to say no to things. It makes it much easier to identify the things that will actually help you reach your goal and you’ll ultimately get there much more quickly.
What I like to do is keep the list open on my computer. Maybe you put it on paper on your desk where you’re going to see it every day, that way you can look at it and decide what you need to do to continue making progress.
So that’s what I would encourage you to do. Write down some goals, the things you want to accomplish this year, and then rank them. Once you have ranked them, focus on the number one until you complete it. Then move on to number two then number three.
Good luck this year in 2016, I would love to hear what priorities you’re working on and how things are going!