How to align goals, projects and tasks
There are so many workshops, articles and books that teach you “Define your big goals and missions, write them down, and you will be a better person”. Yeah, I like to do this too! But then, life takes over, you get busy at work or in your private life, and 6 months later, somewhere at home, you find a particular sheet of paper that says “Goals of 2017”. But you totally forgot about it, and there is nothing on this paper that you can mark off.
We have all been through it. We like the rush of the excitement, to create this big and better version of us. We feel liberated, empowered, focussed. But days later, these feelings become weaker, and weeks later, they are just a glimmer.
Why are we failing? Mostly it’s not about motivation. It’s simply about how often you are exposed to a particular information, how often you think about it. It’s about incorporating the thoughts of your goals into your day to day life. And how do you archive that? Keep on reading…
Mission, Roles, Goals, Projects, Tasks
Let’s assume you have created a written mission statement. You described how you want to be in a certain private, public or professional area of your live. You identified core values and behaviours with which you fulfil these roles.
For these roles, you have defined goals. Goals help you to grow your role, to reach a greater level of achievement and competence. Goals can be developed with various frameworks, like SMART (Sustainable, mature, achievable, realistic, timed).
Once you have your roles and goals ready, you need to identify the appropriate projects and tasks. Define Projects that support your goals, set deadlines, and then identify the tasks and follow through.
Let’s be honest — I’m not telling you anything new here, and you will have heard this advice before. And now?
Exactly. That is the most crucial question. What comes now? How do you follow it? The answer is simple: You need to internalize your goals and mission to a point where you absolutely know about it.
Internalizing goals means to “live and breathe” your goals. You have them available in your consciousness all the time. When you think about them, you see a picture, you see yourself doing things that bring you one step closer to achieving this goal.
Internalization is an ongoing process that is supported by these principles:
- Attractiveness: Find a visual representation of your goals that you really like to with. Use icons and a language that empowers you in achieving your goals, like very specific icons.
- Availability: Find a place you see several times a day to be reminded of your goals. This can be a notebook you daily check, an app you daily use, post-it’s on your desk.
- Integration: Make it painlessly simple to link your goals to your system of creating projects and tasks. When you work on paper, write the goal that you are addressing with a set of tasks at the top. When you work with an app, add a hashtag or icon for your goal to the list.
Create & keep Alignment
Once you internalized your goals, you need to keep your concrete actions and goals aligned. Think like that: The energy that you invested into creating your future self would be wasted if you can not find the energy to maintain this alignment. To make this as effortless as possible, create simple habits based on these principles. Habits are best formulated with a concrete trigger and action, for example like this:
- Every morning, after brushing my teeth and get dressed, I review my goal notebook
- After lunch time, I take 15 minutes to journal what I contributed to my goals today
- At my weekly review, I identify one concrete next project that helps me to progress towards my goals
By following these habits, you set yourself up for alignment, for considering your goals as the foundation with which you select tasks and projects on a daily basis.
The effort is worth the reward. If you have this compass all the time present, if you have the landscape always present, then you can do and act in alignment with your long-term goals. The landscape is the set of mission, roles, goals and projects. Keep them with you, all the time. The compass are your processes of staying aligned with your goals, move with them on a daily basis.