Are you prepared to pay the price?

Question Mark

Longterm goals often require you acquiring new skills or upgrading your knowledge. In a world where new knowledge is generated at an astounding rate, one can feel overwhelmed. It is no longer a safe option to rely on overburdened HR departments to ensure you get the training you need to stay relevant on the job. You either shape up or ship out.

A notebook that reads "2020 Goals"
Are yours written down?

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Don’t be so quick to pay for that app

Nine buttons. Each has the word "App" written on it.

I have been asked a few times whether I think paying for a productivity app is worth it. All the personal productivity apps I have used have been free and I am still yet to pay money for any productivity app. I know people who use a notebook and pen for all their planning. Some of them are the most productive people I have ever known.

A phone screen with many app icons
How many of them are useful?

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Batch it

A screwdriver and a spanner

Nobody likes doing dishes but most people would agree that dishes are tasks that need to be done. If you don’t, you’d eventually run out of clean cutlery to use. We all have repetitive tasks that no one particularly enjoys but can acknowledge they need to get done. Tasks like these are the ones we are more likely to procrastinate on either.

Unpleasant but necessary tasks such as doing the dishes are best done by batching them. For example, if you washed all the cutlery you used for breakfast before getting out of the house, you wouldn’t have to come home to an overflowing sink. If you tried to wash each item immediately after you use it, you might get bored but if you made a commitment to wash each item after meals, you would be committing to doing the dishes only three (or 2) times a day and this seems more manageable.

An overflowing stack of cups
Related tasks this way

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Plan big, think small

A set of wooden stairs

Wearing a seatbelt can save your life in the event of a crash but the act of putting one on is so simple, you don’t think about it when you get into the driver’s seat. Any goal worth fighting for must be one that scares you. Any plan worth following must be one where the next step is so simple you don’t have to think too hard about it. Dentists promote better oral health among the populace not by telling us of the dangers of thousands of unseen microbes but by encouraging people to brush their teeth every day. You don’t have to think too hard about brushing your teeth every morning. You probably do it on autopilot most days. Brushing your teeth is a simple task yet the rewards are enormous and add up over a lifetime.

A footpath up a mountain
Climbing a mountain is best done one step at a time

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Why do you want to achieve that goal?

A big question mark with the word "why" written many times in it

Happy New Year. This is that time when many people create a to-do list for the first two weeks of the year. I have written earlier about why New year’s resolutions are generally a bad idea for most people. Instead of creating a resolution, I advocate writing a personal development plan for the year. It takes longer but is more actionable than resolutions and you will achieve better results.

The question "why?" written four times
Today’s question

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An achievable goal is an actionable goal

SMART goals

I’m sure you have a goal. You wouldn’t be reading a personal productivity blog if you didn’t (Thanks for reading my blog by the way). The greatest power of a goal is that it allows you to put down on paper (or cloud) something you would like to accomplish and chart out how you plan to get it done. You can track the skills you would need to acquire to achieve your goal, how long it would take, how much money you need to invest etc.

An open notebook. "My goals" is written and underlined
Are your goals actionable?

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Focus on processes, not events

Abstract image

Many Nigerians want to be rich. Wanting to be rich is not a bad thing. In a Country like Nigeria where infrastructure can be quite poor, having money is the only way to ensure you can cushion yourself against poor power supply, healthcare and expensive food. One could argue that wanting to escape the poverty trap is a very good motivator. A focus on being just rich, however, risks missing the point of personal development. Being rich is an event. What you need to focus on is a process.

An empty process chart
Have you mapped out your process chart?

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Keep your eye on the task

Quote by Joe Girard

The old adage about taking things one step at a time seems too simplistic to be of any use. Yet, many great truths have a comforting simplicity about them. Picture this. You come up with a big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG). Your BHAG is so great that it sometimes scares you. That’s the point of a BHAG though. It has to be a kind of go big or go home idea. You have a perfect vision of the end product of your goal yet you fail to achieve that goal because you could never get started.

Many times, what stops us from working towards a goal is fear of the unknown. We know what we want, we are just not sure how to get there so we keep procrastinating and the goal never gets achieved. In Eat that Frog, Brian Tracy describes how it is possible to drive across the Sahara by following oil drums 5km apart. This is the maximum distance at which two barrels could be seen such that during the day, a person driving would be able to see two drums, the one in front and the one behind them. In this way, they could safely drive across the sahara one oil drum at a time.

Vast expanse of desert
One oil drum at a time

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Are your goals actionable?

An open notebook. "My goals" is written and underlined

I had an interesting conversation with some of the young people I mentor at Paradigm Initiative. About a third of the current class wrote their UTME exams not too long ago. Before the exams I asked them what their short term goals were. Naturally, all UTME candidates mentioned getting into the University to study a course (of their choice?).

Smiling, I let them know while getting into the university can be a huge stepping stone to greater things, their short term goal was not a very good one. It’s easy to say “My goal is to pass UTME and get admission into BUK to study economics.” It sounds good and you seem focused. However, it fails to meet one very important criteria for good goal setting. The statement is not actionable. Go back and read it again carefully.

SMART goals
Don’t forget to make goals SMART

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What did you achieve in the first half of 2019?

A spiral notebook. A page is open with the words "Review" written on top

We have hit the half year mark for 2019. Thank you for following my blog so far. It’s also a milestone for me. That being said, what have you achieved in the first half of the year? It’s time to carry out a half year review.

Before you get started

  1. Find a quiet spot. You will need as much focus as you can muster for this. You also don’t want to be distracted midway through.
  2. Have your personal development plan (PDP) in front of you. Your PDP provides an overview of what you set out to achieve for the year and how far you have come.
  3. Have something to write with. It can be a notebook, tablet or the note taking app on your phone. Please turn off mobile data if you choose to use an internet enabled device. You don’t need the distractions.
  4. Take your time. Your midyear review is not something you want to rush.
An open notebook. Three different coloured pens are lying on it.
All set to start your review

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