Move forward on the things that matter most with these 4 steps

Sometimes it can feel like the world is conspiring to thwart you in achieving the things that really matter in your life. The goals that are most important to us are often complex and take us into unfamiliar territory. While ultimately good for us, being stretched into new areas is often uncomfortable and this can create a level of resistance toward engaging with these goals. Existing commitments , interruptions from colleagues and the latest crisis can also quickly derail any momentum that we may have worked up.

arrow on the road

Photo credit: sardinelly via

I’ve found these steps to be helpful to keep progress toward important outcomes moving forward:

  1. Identify the projects to focus on for the following week. During your weekly review (you are doing weekly reviews right?), identify up to three projects that you want to focus on moving forward for the following week. Put this list somewhere you’ll see each day.

    It doesn’t matter how you do it. I used to tag the projects in my list manager, but more recently it’s just been a post-it note that I can move to the current page in my notebook. The important thing is that it will be in your face and you’ll see the project list every day. Don’t pick more than three projects or your attention will spread too thinly and reduce your ability to make progress.

  2. Identify the next action for each project. Ideally you have already identified at least one next action for each project, but if not, identify the very next physical action you could take on each project. If there are several fronts you could move on independently, list them all down. This gives you more options when you’re ready to start.

  3. Make a commitment with yourself. We expect other people to keep commitments they’ve made to us. And most people feel obliged to follow through on commitments made to others. So why should a commitment we make to ourselves be any different?

    Here’s the key to moving forward. Make a commitment with yourself to complete at least one next action from one of those three projects each day during the week. This is the minimum standard. I like to try and knock off at least one action per day from each of the projects. Be realistic though. There’s no point aiming to complete five mentally taxing tasks when you’ve got back to back meetings all day.

    Now, schedule some blocks of time in your calendar to do the work.

  4. Follow through. Now comes the moment of truth. You’ve said these are the most important projects for this week. You know what the next actions are and you’ve created some space to work on them. Unless a real emergency has come up all you need to do is start.

Do this consistently for a week and you’ll make visible progress. Do it consistently for a month and you’ll notice projects being completed and headway on your larger outcomes. You’ll feel better as you start seeing the the things that really matter in your world moving in the right direction.

Question: What techniques do you employ to consistently move forward on the larger outcomes in your life?

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1 Response

  1. February 18, 2016

    […] Provide a reference point in times of difficulty. When taking on a new project it is impossible to anticipate all the challenges that could surface along the way. This discovery process keeps things interesting, but means you have to deal with uncertainty and solve problems as you go. When progress is frustrated in a quagmire of unanticipated complexity, revisiting the purpose can offer the clarity and confidence you need. It helps you see past the immediate problems and reconnect with the larger outcome you’re pursuing. […]

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