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Make Space for Long-Term Goals

make space for long term goalsPriorities shift but slow and steady wins the race.

Navigating both truths is essential to success.

Most of us work in a “dynamic” work environment with all sorts of demands coming our way from a variety of directions. The many sources create lots of requests and things change by the hour.

It all makes for quite a hodgepodge that falls on our lap.

Then, of course, there are all the bigger and longer-term goals we need to be working toward.

It can be a lot to sort out, making it difficult to answer one the most important decisions we face every day:

What should we work on next?

Urgent stuff will dictate the answer all the time if we let it. (And, let’s admit it, that can be fun…you don’t know what you’re going to deal with and every day will be different than the last…it’s not boring, but it’s also not super productive).

We need to be able to react, but we also need to be able to drive forward toward long-term goals, consistently over time. This is where slow and steady wins the race and a last-minute cram session is to be avoided if you want to do great work.

So, how can we find quiet in the storm?

First, we need motivation.

I’ve got a short list of some important long-term goals that I read through every day. That simple exercise serves as a good reminder of specific things that I want to accomplish and it helps me to remember that some action is needed now if I am to achieve those goals further down the line. Recognizing that motivates me to look for opportunities to take those actions, to find some quiet in the storm.

If you don’t do anything like this yet, you could pick just one goal to start working on this week.

Take that goal and give it some visibility in your world. Put it unavoidably on your path.

Write it down and tape it to your computer monitor, stick it on your bathroom mirror, or make it your new password (passphrases are more secure than passwords anyway).

Put it someplace where you will see it and then work to think about it during your “downtime” while commuting, waiting in line, or riding the elevator. Turn off the radio, put down the smartphone, and use some of that time to think about and plan long-term goals.

Make lists as you think of action items, things to research, or people you’ll need to confer with. Then work those items into your schedule. Before you know it, you’ll be making real progress.

Dedicate an hour a week to tackle these items, then work up to more over time.

The more you are or intend to become a leader, the more time should be spent on this stuff…it’s what everyone is depending on you to do…and to do it well.