Now that 2012 has started, we are all so excited and motivated to operate at peak performance and achieve our goals, but at the back of our minds is that little niggle – how can I make sure that this year I will stick to my goals, unlike previous years?
As someone who spends his life engaged in executive coaching I know that this is a huge challenge, and there is no simple answer. My best advice is to tackle it with the old adage in mind about how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time!
Looking down the barrel of 52 weeks and 365 days it is a tad overwhelming, but my advice to my clients is to take it a week at a time. Sure, set your goals and objectives, but remember this is not a 100 metre sprint –it’s quite a bit longer than that. You change your life and achieve continuous peak performance by doing those things that make a difference – over and over again!
Executive coaching is all about coaching for success – simple and straight forward! And success is achieved by doing the right things time and time again, and having your own process that ensures you are staying on track.
My weekly discipline that has really helped my clients hugely are to ask these 4 questions before you start the next week. Do these every week and you are growing your chances of success exponentially!
The 4 questions are:
- What must I do this week to move my key goals forward?
- Who must I engage with this week and what outcomes am I seeking?
- What will I do this week to improve me?
- What will I do this week to re-energize me?
So, let’s take those one at a time.
What must I do this week to move my goals forward to obtain Peak Performance?
It is taken as a given that you have set your goals, that is, your annual goals, and if you haven’t, then stop here and invest the time in doing just that. In the absence of annual goals you have no context for your week!
Now that you have your goals, then assess them and decide which of your goals you are going to focus on this week. The reason for this approach is that it is highly unlikely that you will do something about each goal every week, and you should not feel guilty about that. Having decided on the goals you will focus on, now decide what outcomes you want for each of them. Be specific, not vague. How will you know that you are progressing if it is not specific? The answer is, you won’t!
One piece of advice I always give is to do a check with yourself – will these actions just keep me busy, or will they deliver a result? Frequently during personal coaching I can see that many clients prefer planning, thinking, or researching – all of which are valuable, but pretty academic if not translated into actions. So, just check with yourself that you are taking actions that deliver results.
Who must I engage with this week and what outcomes am I seeking?
It is stating the obvious but you must spend time every week engaging with the people who are going to deliver your results. Yes, I know that is obvious, but I do come across many situations where clients will engage in conversations with a huge range of people which will keep the really busy, rather than being laser focused on the ones who will deliver the results. This is particularly obvious when it comes to salespeople, but the truth is – we are all selling some way or another!
So, the question is who I am engaging with, and what is my purpose in engaging with them, and what results am I seeking? A good challenge to yourself is – is my contact with my target audience this week adding value to them and building my relationship with them?
What will I do this week to improve me?
I refer to Stephen Covey’s phrase from his 7 Habits book where he talks about “sharpening the saw” which I think is the best description of this activity. So, what will I do this week to develop my skills, increase my knowledge, keep me healthy and fit, improve my spiritual life or contribute more to my community? For each of us it is different, but we all need to be very clear about those goals that will make me a “better me” at the end of this year. So pick the activities that you have determined are the ones for you.
This is about growth, and we own the responsibility for our own growth! It is not the responsibility of the company you work for, your executive coach if you have one, your boss or anyone else. I have no one to blame except myself if I am not growing.
Also, remember there is no such thing as staying still – you are either moving forward or backwards, you are either growing or stagnating, and it is your responsibility and your choice!
What will I do this week to re-energize myself?
We are not the Duracell bunnies, or the Ever Ready batteries, or whatever the equivalent is in your world. We need to recharge our own batteries so that we maintain ourselves in peak condition to deliver peak performance.
When I discuss personal development with my clients I will always ensure that my client is absolutely clear about the activities they must undertake to re-energize and recharge themselves. It is different for all of us but we must be clear about what it is for us and then schedule to do it. We cannot just go on and on, or we will suffer burn out. We cannot achieve our goals over the long term without knowing what we need to do to keep us going.
For some it is doing exercise, as in a gym, or running, or hill walking. For others it is playing a sport. Or maybe you prefer reading books you love, or going to a spa for a treatment. For some it is about being involved in the community and giving to others. Whatever it is, just make sure you have it in your diary. Do not feel guilty about this because it sounds selfish because it isn’t. It is about making sure you are operating at your best, and everyone benefits from that.
So, when should you ask these questions? I do it, and recommend to my clients that they do it, when they are planning their week ahead. I undertake my own planning on a Sunday as I want to hit Monday running. I strongly advise against doing your planning on a Monday morning – the week will tend to run away with you as you have not got yourself mentally prepared.
You have set your goals for 2012, now achieve them by doing the right things every week. Answering these 4 questions during your weekly planning period will ensure that you maintain peak performance throughout the year, and your success will be yours!