No matter what your goal, if you don’t pay attention you can get behind or veer of track. Here are some things you can to do avoid common pitfalls:
1. Don’t Get Sidetracked – Stick to a schedule
Set a schedule for yourself and then follow it. When you schedule your time to work on your goal it allows you to fully focus on it and nothing else. It is important though, that once you schedule the time you stick to it.
There are many things you need to do during the normal course of the day. If you don’t schedule time for your goal, the reality is you will always just be dreaming about it and not achieving it. Don’t sidetrack yourself by spending time on non essential activities and dreaming about the end game. You must take action and not get yourself distracted. The best way to do this is to ensure you have scheduled time in your today, or week, so that you actually do some work.
2. Don’t Be Overwhelmed by the Size of the Task – Break it down
Think of it this way, you schedule everything else you consider important, like dentist appointments, repairs, going to work, etc. Make yourself important. Schedule your time and then stick to the schedule.
If you have a large goal or task, there are most likely many steps you need to complete in order to reach that goal. Break your goal down to mini goals and then itemize for each mini goal what needs to be done. This makes the overall goal less overwhelming and more achievable.
When we break down our goals, not only are we more thorough, it helps us find hurdles we might have missed if we were trying to jump straight to the finish line. It also becomes more manageable as you can allot amounts of times for each mini goal to make scheduling easier. When you allot time you can see how truly long it will take.
3. Don’t Stop When Things Go Wrong – Adjust as Necessary
Anyone who has had a project will tell you to try and plan for what can go wrong. By doing this you can figure out in advance how to correct the issue quickly if it should arise. This is not always an easy task when you are starting something new because you don’t know what you don’t know. It is our experiences that teach us what can potentially go wrong. Having said that, you can ask someone who has done something similar what the possible problems are that could arise to help you prepare.
The key is not to stop when something does go wrong. Perhaps you missed a step and have to back up and readjust your scheduled timeline. Perhaps you didn’t spend enough time and the results aren’t quite what you were hoping for. Whatever the reason or issue at hand is, it shouldn’t be a reason to stop or give up.
Figure out how to fix the issue and then move ahead, readjusting as necessary. It may mean adding extra steps but in the end it will be well worth it once you’ve reached your goal. I like to stick to the saying ‘hope for the best but plan for the worst’.
4. Don’t Use Distractions as Excuses – Learn To Say No
Once in a while there will be something that truly must pull you away. That is okay as long as you get right back to it. The key is not to let others pull you away from your scheduled time. You must learn to say ‘no’, ‘later’, and ‘not right now’. The problem most people may have in this area is they believe others time is more important than their own. They put themselves second to everyone and everything. If you do this, you will not realize your goal.
There are surely some pieces to your goal that will be less fun, not as exciting, as others. That is when you have to recognize that you still need to stick to your schedule so you can work through it. Distractions, simply put, equal time lost. In some cases if you stay away too long, it is hard to get back into the groove of ‘doing’.
5. Don’t Lose Sight of Your Accomplishments – Celebrate milestones
When we have a large goal, it is easy to feel like we aren’t accomplishing much. Even though you are making progress you may not see it if you are only looking at the end game. It is important to celebrate the small successes along the way.
When you complete a mini milestone, celebrate it. This is one key item you’ve knocked off your list, bringing you closer to the end goal. Give yourself a high five, take yourself for dinner, do something to celebrate. Sometimes it as easy as a quick post to say ‘woohoo, I’ve made it this far, another one down’.
Schedule a small break to allow for this time to celebrate. It should be no longer than an evening, or day on your schedule. The big celebration will be at the end of the course but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy and celebrate the smaller successes.
There are, of course, many more pitfalls that you could run into during your project, goal, or task, these are just a few of the common ones.