At work, you feel stuck in the deepest rut of all time. You try to move forward but the groove is deep and you’re wedged in there pretty good. Sound familiar?
It happens to most leaders at some point. I’ve found the best way to get yourself out of the rut is to understand the reason you’re there in the first place. There are 5 big reasons that people get stuck along the way.
Reason #1: You aren’t clear about your goals.
Goals that lack clarity are merely wishes. “I’d like to make a million dollars this year.” Wouldn’t we all!
It’s better to set out ambitious but realistic goals that include the target and some concrete ways to reach it. “I am going to increase our sales this year by 10 percent by cold-calling a few prospective clients every workday” is a clearer goal that you just might achieve.
If you haven’t set a clear destination, don’t be surprised if you can’t seem to get any momentum.
Reason #2: You haven’t identified your why.
Motivation matters. There are plenty of ways out there to increase your productivity, but few of the folks who offer countless life hacks have stopped to consider the why of it.
So when you get stuck, step back and ask yourself, “Why do I want to reach this goal again?” and find your reasons: To make more money, to feel a sense of accomplishment, to take more time off, to go home this weekend and not have this hanging over my head.
Whatever your key motivations, when you find yourself dragging your feet, stop to remind yourself why you wanted to do this in the first place. Reconnecting with your why will always help.
Reason #3: You haven’t chunked the project down to bite-size pieces.
Goals are big things that are going to take a lot of effort over time to accomplish. People can get stuck focusing on the enormity of it. To reach your goals, focus instead on the chunks or steps that you’ll need to get there.
I should add the caution that while larger goals ought to challenge us, the steps toward getting to our goals should not. These steps need to be inside our comfort zone and ought to require little or no courage to do.
The trick is to cut the giant into enough pieces that he is no longer menacing.
Reason #4: You are distracted by too many tasks.
If left unchecked, the whirlwind of activity in your organization will constantly distract you from reaching your goals. So simplify.
The most helpful concept for me is what I call “The Big 3”. I teach that you should only have three main tasks per day. To focus on three and only three, you have to filter your tasks and eliminate, automate, or delegate everything that is outside your Desire Zone™.
You can also have a small list of non-essential tasks that can be handled at the beginning or the end of the workday. Your attitude toward these things ought to be, “If I get to them, fine, and if not, that’s okay, too.”
Reason #5: You haven’t built in any accountability.
According to Dr. Gail Matthews, built-in accountability is one of two primary ingredients for goal success. You need someone who will hold you accountable without succumbing to your excuses.
Their purpose in this context is not to shame you but to remind you of the road you set out on, and why getting over the finish line will be worth it.