New Year’s resolutions. Everyone has an opinion about them, and out of every 10 people who set them on January 1st, eight of them will have failed by mid-February.
People are not meeting their goals for one basic reason: finite resources.
As an adult, our lives are a perfect example of scarcity: we only have so much time in the day, money in the bank, and bandwidth to handle tasks. Everything that we do drains our energy, time, and financial resources (in one way or another).
Can you do everything? Yes. Can you do everything all the time? No.
Since this is XCM, an industry leader in workflow solutions and productivity enablement, we’re going to Lean Six your goals, and apply DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify) to make sure that you have set yourself quantifiable, achievable goals that, come December 31st, you can say you accomplished.
Before we begin the DMADV process, you need to have goals to work from. Set yourself a timer for five minutes and start free-writing. Anything and everything that comes to mind should be written down, whether it’s run a 5-minute mile, climb Mt. Fuji, learn to knit, or eat at one new amazing restaurant each month. Specificity matters; rather than “be healthier,” your goal may be “run a 5k.”
Don’t worry about being realistic right now. Write as though everything you put down on that piece of paper will come true as soon as you write it.
Map out your Wishlist (Define)
Once you’re dreamed about all of the things that you’d love to do, it’s time to get specific. Read through each item on your list with a critical eye and ask yourself what it will take to achieve each one (ideally within one year).
Define the process and bite-sized goals that will incrementally move you forward. Quantify how much of your resources (time, money, and energy) it will take every week (or day) to complete your goal within a year.
Make sure that you don’t confuse realistic with difficult. Difficult does not mean impossible.
At the end of this step, each of the goals you listed during your brainstorming session should be broken down into realistic, measurable actions that you can take throughout the next year.
We haven’t chosen which goal(s) to focus on yet; at this stage, there is still an assumption that you have infinite resources and capacity to achieve your goals.
Identify Your Non-Negotiables (Measure)
Previously, we’ve been operating under the assumption that you have infinite resources and capacity to accomplish anything.
That dream has ended, and we’re now operating in reality. In this step, we’re identifying and measuring everything that affects your resources – what will place a draw on the time, energy, and financial support that you are going to focus on your goals. Common examples include sleep, work, family, and friends.
As you identify each of these items, ask yourself what has to happen (for example, sleeping is usually a requirement to function; the amount that each person needs to sleep in order to function at optimal levels is different), and if you can modify the activity (can you spend time with family doing an activity that also helps you get closer to your goals, or is there an existing boundary that cannot be changed, such as attending church, or weekend dinner at grandma’s house).
Each of these non-negotiables draw on your resources, so account (to the best of your ability) for how much time, energy, and draw each of your non-negotiables has. This will leave you with the resources available after accounting for your non-negotiables.
Choose Your Focus (Analyze)
Now that you have defined realistic goals and you have quantified the time, energy, and financial resources that you have available, it’s time to make a difficult decision; how to apply your scarce resources in the manner that best utilizes them.
Look at the goals that you defined in your wishlist and compare them to the resources that you listed as available.
This step resembles nothing more than a giant puzzle, as you compare the requirements to accomplish each of your goals to the resources that you have available. As you see conflicts, ask yourself what can give (what would change if you made your large goal a two-year goal, for instance, rather than a one-year goal, and you focused more on the incremental steps that make up the larger goal).
The results of wrestling with your own personal jigsaw puzzle should be 1-2 goals that make the best use of your resources and fit with your non-negotiables (possibly with some of the modifications that you identified above).
Remember, priorities are different for everyone. Don’t judge yourself according to someone else’s standards.
Design your Plan (Design)
Now that you’ve chosen a goal (or two), commit to accomplishment. What actions will you be taking every month, every week, and every day to complete the goals set out above by December 31st?
Your smaller steps should already have been at least loosely identified during the process of mapping out your wishlist. At this point you should be getting more specific; what are the smaller steps that you can take each day, week, and month to accomplish your goal. What milestones will you be celebrating?
Once you’ve designed your plan, post your weekly and monthly goals somewhere that you will see them constantly, whether it’s next to your monitor at work, next to the bathroom sink, or right next to the front door.
Don’t forget to allocate the resources that you will need to be successful. Block out the necessary time on your calendar, start putting financial resources aside (in a separate checking account, or even just an extra jar), and don’t accept invitations that will place additional drain on your bandwidth.
Remember that we all only have 24 hours in a day (if you have more, contact me. We need to patent that technology and start marketing it, ASAP); some things will have to give way in order for you to accomplish your goals, even if it’s just less time watching SDSU dominate men’s basketball.
Above all, start. Don’t wait until tomorrow, or next week, or next month. Start today.
Check in on your progress (Verify)
This step is where most people fail. They either 1) don’t check in on their progress, or they 2) check in and realize that they’re no longer on track to accomplish their goals and they just give up.
To combat both of these, make sure that you’re celebrating every one of your smaller goals and milestones as you reach them. Is your goal to be able to run a 5-minute mile? Celebrate every time you’re able to shave 30 seconds off of your time!
If you’ve fallen behind, don’t just give up. Reassess your goal and decide what modifications needs to be made to get you back on track. Who says that you can only apply Lean Six to your goals once? Lean Six is all about continuous improvement- identify where you failed to meet one of your smaller goals, tweak the process, and keep going.
Don’t give up. On December 31st, be the two in 10 that can say, “Why yes, I accomplished my New Year’s resolution."
Comment below to let us know some of your goals and progress this year!