This week I was looking at the website of a guy I know; he gives advice about how to reach goals by using small communities of ambitious friends to support each other. The first piece of advice that struck me, though, was, in his words, “stop the bleeding.” He recommended naming bad habits and using time spent on them for the goals we want to accomplish. One of my bad habits is compulsively checking email and Facebook, so I took some time away from those activities this week, and I accomplished a few things that I would not have done otherwise. I haven’t done the second important piece of advice–examine “why” I want to do these things. I’ll discuss that in a minute.
Before I list the things that I accomplished, I’ll briefly mention a simple tool that I used. I set up a spreadsheet on Google Docs. I put multiple tabs, one for each large goal: start a side business, expand language offerings in the public schools, learn Farsi, learn Somali, develop methods for learning languages at work, and blog. On the spreadsheet I write individual tasks that I think well keep me moving. I date when I put tasks down and when I finish them. I also want to put down a deadline for myself, but I’m afraid of that much commitment at this point. This way I can actually see what I’m getting accomplished and plan a little more deliberately.
Here are some of the things I actually accomplished.
- Business. I have a website that is nearly complete. It still needs some photos, so I talked to my friend’s wife, who is a photographer, and some international friends at work who will pose with me. Once the photos are up, I should be done with the site, ending that phase.
- Languages in Schools. I contacted a person who has already been working on Somali language in the Minneapolis Schools. I’m planning on another meeting maybe next Saturday–I ran the idea past my friend/partner. I’ve put together a list of names to invite to the meeting, and I created an agenda that is manageable for a 1-1.5 hour meeting.
- Farsi. I’ve been watching some Iranian sit-coms every evening or every-other evening. I IM friends in Iran 2-3 times per week at work. I spoke over Skype with an Iranian friend for about 15-20 minutes.
- Somali. I use my limited Somali every day, but I didn’t really move ahead. Not much happened here.
- Languages at Work. I’ve been inputting dialogues for my languages at work packet. I solicited more translations and ideas from my Somali friends, and we’re discussing ways to re-introduce our Somali table to our company.
- Blog. (This is it!)
I’m amazed that I did all this in moments at home and slow moments at work when I would normally kill time. I’m grateful for this piece of advice to “stop the bleeding.”
I want to look at why I want to accomplish these goals with the hope of encouraging my deeper motivations. Figuring out the “why” behind these goals appeals to me, because I know that I can motivate myself at my core. Back in college, when I studied kung fu, my non-English-speaking sifu used to demonstrate effective technique by taking a rope and swinging it in a circle. He’d point at the small motions of his hand and the large motion of the rope they caused. When you push from the center, less effort is necessary for an action. (See photo.)
The technique of finding out the “why” is to ask why I want to do something, and then ask “why” to that answer, five times. This way I move towards my own center. So I want to accomplish this technique this week on at least two of my big goals I mentioned above.
I’d love to learn from my readers how you accomplish your goals–or what stands in your way. I may or may not have suggestions for you; I’d love to learn something from you.
Do any of my readers use accountability groups for setting and keeping short- and long-term goals? If so, please describe your process.
How do you stay focused on goals? What techniques do you use? Do you have examples?