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I don’t care about results! Whether I achieve my goals or not doesn’t matter to me one bit. I never get uptight about finishing a project successfully, meeting my performance goals, or getting recognition for a quality end product. These things just don’t concern me.
Who do I think I am kidding?
Yeah, right! I wish that were true, but reality is the opposite. I’m terribly concerned about results, and the idea of failure can often paralyze me. There are times when I am faced with a goal so large and the uncertainty of ever reaching it seems so real that I ignore it. In those times I retreat into areas of comfort. I read emails. I check social media. I go rummage through the refrigerator and eat something else that I don’t really need for nourishment. In short I avoid the goal and waste time.
I’ve talked with enough people to know that I’m not alone in this paralyzing concern about results and the deep fear of failure that comes with it. I may be an extreme case, but I’m not alone. That’s why I love processes.
What about you? Do you ever find yourself so focused on and worried about getting the next sale, achieving the next promotion, and realizing the big dream that you just can’t seem to move forward? Then you might benefit from applying some process to your work flows too.
Processes Make Dreams Achievable
When we take our big goals and break them down into processes several things happen.
- Our anxiety is calmed
- Our mind is focused
- Our desire to procrastinate is quelled
When a goal or objective seems too big to us it can create a sense of anxiety. When we suffer from anxiety our thinking gets clouded. We struggle to know what to do and when to do it. Several different options seem equally pressing, and they compete for priority. But, because not one of them alone will achieve the goal or solve the problem, we become confused. That confusion leads to an inability to decide, which creates more anxiety. The answer to the problem…procrastination through distraction. A walk to the vending machine, a checkup on social media, a chat with a coworker about nothing, another look through email for something else to do.
How to Establish Processes that get Results
When we apply processes to our pursuit of goals all this goes away. So how do you do that?
- Slow down
- Work backwards
- Define Milestones
- Document Tasks
- Set Dates
- Understand Contingencies
- Take little bites
There is a lot to unpack from those seven bullet points, but the most critical are the first and the last. THE MOST important thing you can do when tackling something big is resist the urge to jump in and start attacking it. Rather you must step back, breath deeply, slow down and plan.
Slow Down and Plan
When we get excited or overwhelmed its easy to think we just need to get to work, but that recipe usually leads to defeat. What we should do is start at the goal working backwards in our mind and seek to understand all the major things that must happen in order to get there. We must then break those major things – the milestones – down into smaller tasks. The smaller the better. Then we should seek to document in order when to complete tasks and their dependence upon each other.
Take Little Bites and Succeed
When all this is done we can and must do the second most important thing – take little bites. Attack one task after another. Stay focused solely on that one task. Don’t move on until it is done. That task is your goal, not the big major goal that it serves. This works because our minds can handle the small goals. They can focus well on the little things, and when the little things are all put together, the big thing is accomplished. Oh, and there is another benefit. Because we are so focused on each individual task and not fighting off anxiety all the time, the energy we bring to the tasks enables us to do excellent work making the end result better than we may have even hoped or dreamed for.
In future posts I’ll talk about specific techniques and tools you can use to follow this process. Until then, what are you struggling with. Send me an email. Maybe I can help you slow down and plan, take little bites and succeed. I’m here to help!