Progress is forward movement toward a destination or goal. In education, changes are made often and the results are mixed! Have test scores increased from the changes? If they did, that would be progress. We need progress in everything we do. Business and your personal life are based on achieving goals. How can you become more effective?
There are many strategies to make you more effective. Before you can use any strategy to improve your effectiveness, you must start with your motivation. I often hear people say that they want something which can range from more money to losing weight. Thanks to low motivation, no matter what strategy you use, you fail. Soon it will be 2013 and everyone makes New Year’s Resolutions. A large majority of people say they want to lose weight. They join health clubs or gyms, go two or three times and never go back. Their motivation was not strong enough to change their habits!
Many years ago, I was one of those people. I gained a lot of weight over the holidays and decided to go on a diet. I started to lose weight, but it did not happen immediately and I was discouraged. I was motivated because I wanted to get back in shape. Motivation gets you through the ups and downs of weight loss. I started with cutting out the mid afternoon candy from the snack machine. I changed my lunch to have more fruits and vegetables. I started to eat what I brought for lunch when I was hungry. I made sure that I substituted good food for the bad food I used to eat.
This strategy worked very well for me. I lost 35-40 lbs. in roughly 10-12 weeks. I was motivated, but I also had a plan. I made small changes to my diet and started to have success. Initially, I just wanted to lose the twenty (20) lbs. I gained over the holidays, but I was so motivated I kept going and lost forty (40) lbs! This was not just a weight loss strategy; it was a strategy that helped me with a variety of goals. I used what I learned to develop a strategy for success. I used it in my career, investments and my personal life. What are my strategies?
Start with your goal/outcome
I always start with the goal or outcome and work backwards! I would break down the goal into daily tasks and monitor my progress weekly. I would adjust my efforts to meet weekly goals or milestones. Every week, I would adjust my efforts to meet milestones. If I missed that week’s milestone, I would increase my effort to reach next week’s goals. If I want to save $60,000 for a down payment on home, I would determine how much I could save weekly or monthly. I would probably include some form of investing to use the power of compounding.
I always personalize my approach to problem solving because I am the one who has to achieve the goal. If I use someone else’s approach it may not work for me. It is a little like an exercise regime. Books tell you should exercise in the morning for the best results. You know you get your metabolism going early, you burn more calories, but it may not work for you. I get up pretty early already and move a lot in my job. It works better for me to walk after dinner. My wife walks with me and it keeps e from sitting too long.
You can develop your strategies from other people, but you need to adapt them to you. Health experts agree that we all need cardiovascular, flexibility and strength training activities. You get to pick the ones you like and enjoy. How much do you need? You need enough to maintain good health. Start with the healthy statistics doctors will use to measure your health. For example, blood pressure, Cholesterol, EKG, body mass index (BMI) and some lab tests. What exercise do you need to do to maintain those statistics? Adapt the ones you enjoy. I use cycling, walking and weight lifting.
Here is never one solution to a problem! There is never one strategy to achieve a goal. Whenever I think about how achieve a particular goal, I think about several solutions. I make my choice by figuring out which is the best solution and put aside the alternatives. If my first choice does not work, I can always try one of my alternatives. My preferred exercise solution to staying fit is cycling and weight lifting. Sometimes weather prevents me from cycling. I could use a treadmill or my bicycle trainer. How would I apply this to investments? Develop a list of mutual funds, stocks or ETFs that would achieve the financial goals.
Make a list
Putting your goals/tasks/milestones in writing helps you achieve your goals! By simply writing things down helps you crystallize, formalize and prioritize your goals. I use lists to keep me focused on whatever I am working on. It reminds me of when I would put a note on the mirror so I would look at it every morning. It reminded me of my goal and kept me focused. I used this strategy as my daily list of tasks to help me reach financial freedom in seven (7) years. It worked for finding a real estate broker to finding properties. What do you use to stay focused?
Achieving goals is never a straight line. Can you imagine investing and your investment returns increase? I would love it, but it is not realistic. If you ever tried to lose weight, there are ups and downs. You need a strategy or overall plan to help you achieve your goals. It helps you through those ups and downs. You make better decisions and achieve better results. Starting with the goal or outcome sets the path to success. What do you do? Progress is never a straight line!
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