Everyone has some version of a to-do list. There are books devoted to developing color coded signature methods, works of art to encourage action. Elaborate or not, we all create them, check off tasks as completed or assume they've been finished once recorded somewhere. Lists seem look a good idea, but they simply catalogue tasks as yet to be done yet don’t help you accomplish them.
If all you do is make lists of the projects you need to finish, odds are good they will remain unfinished far longer than you like. Decades of research on goal pursuit shows that when it comes to execution, there are two major pitfalls that hold us back from doing the things we intend to do.
1. We aren’t specific enough about exactly what needs to happen.
What are the actions we must take to reach our goals? If your goal is to be healthier, you must break that down into component actions, like walking every day for 30-minutes at 7:00am, packing a gym bag the night before M/W/F, eating breakfast, etc. So, to-do lists can work, if they contain specific actions.
2. The problem that lists don’t solve is finding the opportunity to take action.
· Did you really have no time to work on that project today?
· No chance at any time to return that phone call?
You probably had the time but were preoccupied with something else or simply forgot.
Achieving any goal means grabbing those opportunities before they slip through your fingers. One solution is IF-THEN planning. Not only decide WHAT you need to do but WHEN and WHERE you will do it in advance. So, if ____ occurs, then I will ____.
For example: When it’s 3:00pm today, then I will stop whatever I’m doing and work on that project. If it’s M/W or F, then I will go to the gym before work.
This kind of planning trains your brain to be ready for a certain action at a certain time. On an unconscious level, you are scanning your environment, waiting for the situation, 3:00pm to occur, so you are much more likely to notice 3:00pm when it happens and seize the opportunity to take the action you included in your plan.
With each action on your to-do list, add a when and a where. You can transfer your to-do list to your calendar/phone/device- just be sure to pair what you need to do with the details about when and where you’ll do it.
However comfortable you assumed you were with choice and change, it may morph into overwhelming anxiety that was never anticipated. This makes it the ideal time to engage the support of a certified coach with experience in helping professionals achieve better, faster, results. At KICKSTART Your Transition we offer a broad range of services to fit your needs.