Happy TGIF – it’s Friday! This is the day that most people look forward to as it’s almost time for the weekend. Time to rest, relax, catch up on chores you didn’t get to do during the week. But is Friday the day you leave everything at work and wait till Monday to get ready for the week or do you have your week already planned out?
I don’t know if there is a right or wrong way to be more productive at work as far as planning goes, but you can either be ready when Monday comes to hit the ground running or you can spend that time once you get in to work. I don’t know about you, but planning the new week at the end of it sounds better to me – it allows me to review the week to see what I got accomplished and what I didn’t so that I can take those unfinished tasks and schedule them out.
Being prepared is the key to getting into action-mode and goal-accomplishment. In his “Stages of Change,” psychologist James Prochaska (1995) found that people pass through six phases before they reach a goal:
- Pre-contemplation – recognize a problem may exist but not fully aware of the magnitude; think of getting dressed and your pants feel tighter – you may think they shrunk in the dryer and not because you gained weight
- Contemplation – you are now aware of the actual problem and what you’re going to do to resolve it; going on the example above, you stepped on the scale and realized that you weigh 5lbs more (eeks!) and then start to decide how you’re going to lose them so you begin searching for diets and/or exercise programs
- Preparation – this is the most important step as you begin to put your plans in place and gather necessary resources; once you’ve decided as to how you’ll lose the weight, you can get resources together to get and keep you motivated. For you diet plan, this might include buying certain foods, a scale to weigh the food, or a food diary to track your calorie intake; if you are exercising, this might include planning out your walking route or gym time, buying new shoes or a new workout outfit
- Action – now that you’re fully prepared and know the what, why, where, when and how, you can dig in on the goals you developed
- Maintenance/Support – in this step you are continuing on your goals and making progress; if not, you can always seek out resources or people to support you to keep working on your goals. Going back to our example, you began to exercise but found yourself getting discouraged so you might seek out a trainer at the gym to give you accountability
- Termination/Relapse – this is the time where you either have reached your goal or you ‘slipped.’ You can always go back and rework the steps. According to Prochaska (1995), some people might need to go through these phases several times before they are successful.
As you can see, preparation is the stage that leads you to goal-achievement and feeling accomplished. I guess you have to ask yourself if you want to start your new work-week as one you look forward to starting and knowing what you need to get done or do you want to spend time at the start of your day – delaying your work – in planning mode. If you want to end your week – so you can have less worry and can enjoy the weekend – try to end the week reviewing, planning and preparing. Which do you prefer?
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If you’re like me, you are probably glued to the TV to watch the London Olympics. I become a “junkie” in watching athletes, from around the world, come to win a place on the podium in winning a medal, thereby earning the label as “Best in the World.” It always amazes me to see individuals working so hard and sacrificing so much to become the best. And I don’t just mean the sports that get highly publicized, like swimming, gymnastics, or volleyball. I am watching events like archery (I took it up in college), fencing (also a sport I took up then), skeet shooting, and badminton (this is one I would enter). Hearing their stories of what it took to get to where they are now is so inspiring.
I was watching an interview with Bob Bowman, the coach of gold medal winners of Michael Phelps and Allison Schmitt. He was asked about what it took for Allison to win the gold. His answer was, “Incredible consistency and hard work!” I absolutely love that phrase, as it applies to anything and everything that we do for what we want to accomplish. How many people would be living their dream life or having their dream career if they followed those words? I think tons!
So what does that exactly mean? Well, anytime you have a want or desire, you need to not only be clear about the outcome you want but to know what it will take to get there. That means that you will do the ‘hard stuff’, like putting in time and effort, thinking bigger, and doing tasks that you fear the most. Incredible consistency means that you do those things daily, as part of your existence. Not when it feels good or when the tasks seem easier. In looking at Allison Schmitt’s routine, from her coach, she spends up to five to six hours daily in the pool swimming laps; she has to do weight and endurance training, eat right, rest when needed, and keep up her mindset. Not easy tasks.
So how can you make ‘incredible consistency and hard work’ a part of your daily mantra? Follow these steps to begin to reach your spot on the podium:
1. Know your goals/end result/your “why” – you know that there are things you want to achieve but if you are not crystal clear about what it looks like and why you want it, you won’t be motivated to go after it. In listening to Michael Phelps after he won his gold medal and became the all-time greatest medal winner, he said that he always knew he wanted to be number one and made that his commitment to go for it.
2. Commit – this is always the first step when you want to up your game. Once you know your “why”, you need to be fully committed to having it, no matter what. It might mean that you have to get certified to get a promotion or to work for a particular company; you might need to go back to school to get a degree in order to get the job you’ve desired; or you might have to put in longer hours in your business to gain customers. Making the commitment to do what it takes will leave you with no option but to ‘do it.’
3. Take Consistent Action – this is where you do something towards that goal daily. We always hear about doing the hard things first but why not consistent small steps; these small steps can become a daily habit so that the tasks don’t seem so daunting, especially over time. Scientists are now finding that the old norm of 30 days to become a habit, ala behavior modification, is not up to 60 days due to brain overload. Taking smaller steps helps calm the fear center in the brain so those tasks are easier to begin and keep doing.
4. Get Support – all of these Olympic athletes have a coach or a mentor; someone who challenges them and keeps them on task to work harder and go higher. Think of where it is you want to go or do and seek out the services of someone who can help you get there – often, faster. We seem to do much better when we have an accountability partner and a cheerleader.
I know for myself that hearing those words has truly inspired me to up my game so I’m recommitting to some old goals, while throwing out some that have bogged me down, and I’m committing to being more consistent and working hard to create the business and lifestyle I want. I encourage you to take your inspiration from these athletes today!
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