Quality Magazine

Jim's Gems: Accomplishing Difficult Goals, Part II

February 26, 2010
UPDATED WEEKLY! Someone asked me to put some thoughts together about how to accomplish difficult goals. This is Part II of my two-part series.

Someone asked me to put some thoughts together about how to accomplish difficult goals. Hopefully, you might find something in here which might be of some value-even if only as a thought-provoker! I’ve broken this blog up into two parts. This is Part II. For Part I, click here.

11. Create a strategy

When we know exactly what we want, we have to know exactly how we are going to achieve it. Just a vague idea of what we want will never lead to success; an unclear idea of how we will achieve our goals will bring about almost guaranteed failure. Creating specific strategies will greatly enhance success. Not having clear strategies will make improvement difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.



12. Success is time-based

Without a specific timeline, potentially rewarding and fulfilling goals may slip away until they become only distant memories. Time is one of the few things in life which can’t be replaced. We need to develop specific timelines for each goal and have milestones identified in order to know if we’re on track to accomplish the goal. Not everything works as planned so it’s OK to be flexible and change those timelines and don’t beat yourself up if you miss the timeline, but do celebrate achieving milestones. Remember that, “success is a journey, not a destination.”



13. Measure success

Be sure to measure progress along the way. Doing so will help to keep you motivated to achieve the goal as you see real improvement taking place. We will also be able to pinpoint troubling areas that need more attention or successful methods that could be spread to other aspects of the goal. Remember that “what gets measured gets managed” and what gets managed gets accomplished. Measurement draws focus and attention to our goals and the journey toward accomplishment.



14. Take intelligent action

No matter how much we want something to happen, change will never result from thinking alone - we must take action. The world is full of well-wishers of dreamers, but only those who act on their desires, thoughts and actions achieve remarkable results. Procrastination is our enemy. Failure to take action will guarantee failure. The only true failure is the failure to act.

Action is key to change-but not just any action will suffice. To draw on a quality concept, if we wanted to reduce quality complaints, eliminating the defect reporting process wouldn’t result in the desired outcome to improve customer satisfaction which would, in turn, reduce complaints. The secret is to take intelligent actions that support our goals and strategies so we can enjoy an amazing quality of life.



15. Remain flexible

What we see today will not necessarily mirror the picture of tomorrow. In other words, things change. We can never know for sure how long the opportunity to act will offer itself. It could vanish tomorrow or in 20 years. Today is the certainty in our world and we need to make the best of it. We need to continue to reassess the path that we’re on and make the necessary adjustments to ensure success. There is a Chinese proverb that says, “the philosophy of one century is common sense to the next.”



16. Concentrate on the positive

Each day we experience things, or people, that could influence either the positive or negative. Resist the negative influencers and focus on the positive. If it’s people, be polite and continue to focus on the positives but, when possible, do not associate with people who are constantly negative. Just as positive influencers can be contagious, so can the negative. In fact, it may be easier to be more influenced by the negatives. There are things which can help, beyond taking steps to ignore the negative. The written word can be just as powerful as movies. When coming across a quotation that motivates us to achieve our goals, don’t let it go! Write it down, save it and keep it close at hand.



17. Maintain focus

To stay focused on our goals, reminders are of great help. Keeping reminders around home or office about the goals and desires we are working to achieve, are enhancers and motivators. With the hectic pace of life in today’s society it’s easy to forget or become distracted. There are many techniques which can be used to accomplish this so do what is best in your case.



18. The improvement process

Always remember, improvement is a process. It takes time and effort to bring about change. Break down visionary objectives into short-term goals, which, when met, will result in success and achievement. Always set new goals that will result in reaching the vision.



19. Learn from mistakes

Sometimes the most valuable lessons are learned from mistakes and not successes. Therefore, when things don’t work out exactly as we had planned, take the opportunity to learn something. A short-term failure can be a good thing-it teaches us how not to do something, which will bring us closer and closer to the solution we seek. However, do not make losing or failure a habit as it can become contagious; use failure as a learning opportunity and move on.



20. Focus on others

Helping others accomplish their goals and objectives is a powerful learning opportunity. Also, it brings about a certain synergy in that those we help become great allies in our quest to succeed. Mentor others as others have mentored us. When we help others be successful, we all get better. As our focus turns from ourselves to those who need help, we often find that our own problems seem less important and may even disappear altogether.



21. Realize the road has ups and downs

We will not always accomplish our goals or be motivated to succeed. We all have our ups and downs, and expecting anything different will create frustration and disappointment. We all get upset, encounter setbacks and have bad days, but here's the secret: we can visit, but we don't have to live there.

Where do we go from here?

It's decision time. We can continue to dream about the things we want to accomplish or we can do something about them. We can let routine run the show or we can make a change. We can put it off until another day or we can begin doing the things we know we’re capable of doing. The choice is ours to make. It's easy to fall into the trap of someday. Someday I'll do it. Well if we don't get started, it can't be done!

A single step in the right direction is all it takes to put great things in motion. Every written masterpiece begins with a single word on a page. Every long journey begins with a single step. The things we want most will be no different. We need to take that first step to get on the road to success.

To read Part I of this blog, click here.