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Completing your Goals.  Successfully.

| May 16, 2017

by Jim Bruce

I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t had some difficulty successfully meeting some, or even most, of his or her goals.  Perhaps it is a large, long project and although you were enthusiastic about the project at the beginning, by the mid-point, it seems dull and boring.  Or, perhaps it is a simple task you need to complete, but it’s boring or time consuming and you keep ignoring it. 
Today’s Tuesday Reading is actually a short (3 minute) video How Successful People Reach Their Goals by Heidi Grant Halvorson.  Dr. Halvorson is a social psychologist who researches, writes, and speaks about the science of motivation.  She is the Associate Director of the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia University, Senior Scientist for the Neuroleadership Institute, and author of the several books.  Key to the advice Dr. Halvorson provides is the thought that you reach your goals not because of who you are or what skills you have but rather because of what you do.
Halvorson provides four very specific tips for setting and achieving your goals:
1.  Be very specific about what you want to achieve and the specific actions you need to take to achieve the goal.  Clarity and precision are key in specifying your goal.  And, for those longer projects, break them into smaller sub-projects each with a clear goal and action.  As you reach each of the sub-project goals, you will have a clear sense of accomplishment, which, in turn, will energize you in continuing forward.
2.  Decide where and when you will act.  We are all busy; we have lots of goals or tasks we need to do.  No wonder we too often miss opportunities to act on them.  So, at the time you set a goal, identify the time on your calendar when you will work toward that goal rather than leaving it unscheduled.  Halvorson says that this kind of planning on a regular basis will help your brain become more aware of opportunities to take action as they arise. 
3.  Shift your mindset to a “get better” mindset.  Many believe that intelligence, personality, physical aptitudes, etc. are fixed.  However, we can improve.  Halvorson suggests that we focus on goals for developing and acquiring new skills in contrast to goals that are about proving ourselves to others.
4.  Focus on what you will do and not on what you won’t do.  Trying to avoid a thought or action such as a bad habit makes it even more active in your mind.
So, as you plan to accomplish the goals and tasks before you for the coming week, remember that it’s not about who you are but rather about what you do.  So, work at being very specific about what you want to accomplish, and how, and when you will go about doing that.  I think that you’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll accomplish.
Make it a great week.  .  .  .     jim
Jim Bruce is a Senior Fellow and Executive Coach at MOR Associates, and Professor of Electrical Engineering, Emeritus, and CIO, Emeritus, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.
Heidi Grant Halvorson, How Successful People Reach their Goals, The Management Tip, Harvard Business Review, December 2013.
Kaitlin Wooley and Avelet Fishbach, What Separates Goals We Achieve from Goals We Don’t, Harvard Business Review, April 2017.