Lessons Learned from Goal Setting .. Stories from Success

In my previous blog post, I looked at my failures around goal setting and discussed behavioral patterns I felt were the root causes for my failures. In this post, I will write about behavioral patterns that led to my success based on analysis of my accomplishments.

  • List Making

I work for an IT Consulting firm and my work is about delivering successful project for our Clients. When I look back at projects where I have been very successful, I realized that list making and taking effective action was one of the constant attributes for my success.

One of the projects I am particularly fond of was a large Business Intelligence effort that lasted about a year. I created goals and a list of tasks every week and constantly refined and adjusted the list every week to reflect the priorities at that time. I had a clear vision of what needed to be accomplished and adjusted my plans weekly to ensure we were still on target. List-making has been a very useful tool in my productivity arsenal and it has helped give me a tremendous focus. I use lists very deliberately if I ever find myself being overwhelmed by a problem or situation. I step back, analyze the problem and figure out exactly what needs to be achieved. Then, I break down the goal or task into smaller tasks. The act of writing down on pen and paper each individual task and crossing them off is very satisfying.

  • Support System

I have found that a strong support system has been the bedrock for nearly all my successes. For projects I have successfully delivered at work, I have always had Project Managers and other leads that I could rely on for advice and support. I have observed that having people around you as a sounding board makes a tremendous difference.

I have observed that it is important to surround yourself with people who can ask great questions instead of providing the answers. This helps you look at issues in a different light and take appropriate action.

  • Grit

It is very rare to have a project that does not have any obstacles or minor roadblocks. The ability to successfully navigate and surmount these obstacles is key to success. In the BI effort I mentioned earlier, my team faced several hurdles. At each point, I tried not to get frustrated and re-adjusted my plans accordingly. I made a conscious effort to stay in what I call my “power zone” instead of the victim zone. The power zone is a term I have used to define a mental attitude and outlook in which I am creative, resourceful and focused on figuring out a way to make things happen. The victim zone is a mental attitude and outlook in which I blame outside circumstances and feel powerless to take effective action. Naming these mental attitudes has helped me become more self-aware and allowed me to evaluate the mode I am operating in. If I believe I am falling into the victim zone, I do my best to shift my mental perspective.

  • Ritual

Penelope Trunk mentions that we are more likely to meet our work goals than personal goals. I definitely agree with that. One of the reasons this is true is probably because of the money involved. I believe another reason is that there is a rhythm to work. You consistently put in 8 hours or more everyday. You may not make significant progress every single day. However, the progress you make every day adds up. This ritual is critical to success.

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