I’m merely a messenger here. I’ve heard this idea as it relates to working on a project for work or school, but for some reason, I never made the connection to applying it to accomplishing personal goals.
(Thanks to the unstoppable John Lee Dumas on the Social Media Marketing Podcast with Michael Stelzner for this light bulb moment.)
The simple trick: Sprints
And I would also add that whatever your goal is, you should give yourself no more than 3 months to accomplish it. If you give yourself a full year to hit a certain number, weight, financial accomplishment, etc, you’re giving yourself too much time. Break that goal down into 3 month increments (even smaller if needed – figure out what works for you).
I’ve realized the importance of keeping goal timelines shorter before, but the same podcast reinforced my opnion here.
Back to Sprints
The simple trick is to further break down your goal into short sprints (John Lee Dumas suggests 10 day sprints, to go along with his preference for a 100 day goal time frame. Mathematically, his preference makes a ton of sense).
So, if I want to lose 20 pounds in 3 months, we could break that down….
- to 7 pounds a month and…
- then down to 1 1/2 pound each week (or 2 to keep it a round number).
This idea of breaking your longer term goals into sprints does three things:
- It forces you to avoid procrastinating until the last 2 weeks of your selected time frame (3 months).
- It helps you determine if your goal is realistic (if you wanted to lose 90 lbs in 3 months but aren’t morbidly obese, then you might realize a weekly goal of roughly 7-8 lbs as being a tad ridiculous without Jillian Michaels screaming at you and TV cameras filming every step).
- It provides focus. Just like a corporate or school project is overwhelming when you stare at the thing as a whole, goal achievement is tough when you think of tackling some huge, monumental, life-changing accomplishment. Breaking it down into tiny steps allows you to focus and feel confident you can actually do the thing.
How to Apply Sprints to Your Goals
This is simple (though, like all things vital, not easy). Let’s use a weight loss goal as our case study:
- Take the resolution you chose for the New Year.
- Make the resolution a ‘SMART Goal’ – specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, time-bound (Mr. Dumas prefers ‘specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound’). Example: I will lose 40 pounds by December 31, 2016 – or whatever year is coming up.
- Break that annual goal into a quarterly goal (i.e. 10 lbs by 4/1/16)
- Break that quarterly goal into a weekly sprint goal – or 10 day sprint or 5 day sprint.
- Determine what you must eat and how you must exercise and plan around any potential potholes (office birthday party, for example) during those 5-10 days.
- From here, you have to put in the work.
The work is always the most difficult part. Not because it’s complicated, but because it’s harder than not putting in the work. It alway is. But you’ll be glad you did.
So… while you’re planning your upcoming year (feel free to use my Starting Well Challenge as a resource), build in sprints. I think that is a key that you might have been missing before.