First 30 Days Blog

17 jan

Begin by Anticipating Achievement

Does your productivity keep up with your ambition?

By Jason W. Womack and Jodi Womack

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” – Abraham Lincoln

Get further, faster, by picking SMART goals, identifying near-term milestones, and checking in with yourself and your progress regularly.

OK, OK, we’re not saying anything you haven’t heard, but now’s the time to refresh your focus areas. The book, The Promise Doctrine, shows you specifically how to pick, manage, and celebrate goals (whether personal or professional) that are Specific, Meaningful, Actionable, Realistic and Timely (SMART).

Now, at the beginning of a new year and new decade, it’s time to review what you’ve said “yes” to, and what you’re looking forward to completing in the long-term. Heading into another year, it is easy to think different thoughts (and, as performance coaches we hear them all the time!) about your own goals and objectives.

1. Goal-setting doesn’t work. Too many times you’ve set the bar high, only to realize you don’t have the resources (the time, the assistance, the money, and so on) to achieve it all.

2. Goal-setting is too limiting. Sometimes, people say they prefer the serendipity of achievement, that in not picking anything specific to work toward, they are more open to living life “in the moment” and taking advantage of what shows up, as it shows up.

There is a middle ground. For those who have set goals in the past and not achieved them, it’s time to start anew. And, for those of you who enjoy the surprises life has to offer, we want you to keep on working and living that way.

Start Where You Are

One of the activities we ask people to do in our Promise Doctrine seminar is to make a long, unprioritized, private list of the things they said “yes” to—and that other people said “yes”—that are still outstanding. This inventory of open loops usually contains: promises, projects, reminders, tasks, ideas, and more. It’s usually a long list. Try it yourself. Give yourself just seven minutes of uninterrupted focus time, and answer this question: “What have I said yes to that I have not yet completed?”

Practice On The Small Things

What do you consider a goal? How big does something have to be to go through the entire process of goal-setting to goal achievement? Have you noticed that sometimes people only set formal goals, and create project plans, for big things (usually work-related)?

By looking at each day as a series of goals and objectives to start, finish, and acknowledge, you’ll grow more and more comfortable with the goal-setting process. By practicing on these, the “small things,” you’ll be prepared—but more importantly, rehearsed—to willingly take on something a little bigger. Look at the beginning of the year as a time to practice on the small things. Then, toward the end of the year, you’ll be performing on the bigger ones!

Focus On Achievement

The bigger the goals you take on, the longer you may go between completion and celebration. For the next four weeks, experiment with a strategy outlined in “The Promise Doctrine”: Review your goals and milestones every seven days.

If you do this just four times over the next four weeks, you’ll have several opportunities to acknowledge accomplishment. This goes a long way in giving you the inspiration and confidence to continue moving on toward other (perhaps bigger?) goals.

If someone was there to help you, give you advice, or was otherwise involved in you achieving a positive outcome, consider including them in this celebration. Send a “thank you” card, leave a voicemail message, or invite them to go to coffee or lunch to debrief the project, the work you did, and (potentially) what you’re working on next.

Do more than simply think about your goals. Actually do something about them. When you finish reading this article, consider writing a weekly goal down on a sticky note, or perhaps writing a short note to yourself in your digital or paper calendar. This time, next week, check in, and see how far you’ve come!

Jason W. Womack, MEd, MA, and Jodi Womack, MA, help professionals up-level their professional performance through maximizing time, energy, focus, and workplace performance. Jason Womack’s newly published book, The Promise Doctrine, is now available online: For more information, visit

Posted by Jason Womack on January 17th, 2010 in General | 2 comments Read related posts in

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  • If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

    — Added by First 30 Days on January 24th, 2010
  • I do appreciate the fresh look at goal setting. Too often for me goal setting has been yet another way to avoid actually moving forward. It made be FEEL like I was doing work, when in reality, I was just raising a cloud of dust to obscure my lack of progress. Thanks for the advice and information!

    — Added by bspandrio on January 24th, 2010

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