“My success, part of it certainly, is that I have focused in on a few things.”
— Bill Gates

In the first post of this series, we discussed how over 200 million Americans make New Year’s Resolutions, and how only about 8% of them actually see them through to the end. We talked about a variety of reasons behind why most goals fail, and what we can do differently to change that. First was connecting with your “why,” the motivation behind the goal, and second was creating a SMART plan rather than a squishy one.

Now that we’ve established a firm foundation for goal making, lets discuss execution. Bill Gates attributed some of his success to “focusing in on a few things.” There are some profound insights in that statement. First, the world “focus” – without it, we’re tossed around by every whim and mood swing that comes our way.

To stay focused, we need to set shorter goals, and at much faster intervals. If we don’t, it’s too easy to think we have more time than we do, and we lose our sense of urgency. If we set goals too far out in the future, it’s too easy to get distracted by the now, and to become disconnected from our original motivation. Use a “twelve-week year” instead of a twelve month year (set quarterly goals instead of yearly ones).

Remember, we think of our “future selves” as a stranger. If we make goals too far out in the future, it’s too easy to procrastinate and to save that “problem” for someone else (the future you). Setting a daily goal to help meet a weekly goal, which will in turn help you meet your monthly and quarterly goals. Ultimately, that will lead you to finishing the year strong!

The second insight Bill Gates lends us is his emphasis on “a few things.” We often sit down and make a long list of New Year’s Resolutions: Lose 20 pounds, read 24 books, write 300 words per day, pay off student loans, compete in a triathlon, etc. This is not a goal list, this is a wish list. If we make long lists of ambitious goals like this, we will never get any of them accomplished.

Instead, sit down with your “wish list” and pick the one or two, at most three things that you really want to focus in on. Don’t forget, once you have those three things – connect them with your “why,” and make SMART goals. Execute on these goals by setting smaller, more manageable deadlines that will keep you on track all year.

Set your goals to be completed on a quarterly basis rather than a yearly one – this will intensify your focus, and provide quicker results. In other words, you will accomplish more in a shorter amount of time! Once those items have been completed, pick one or two more and start again!

What are one or two goals you would like to focus on? What are some shorter and more manageable deadlines that you can hold yourself to? What do you need to do to complete that goal in 12 weeks rather than 12 months? What will your daily, weekly, and monthly goals be to achieve your plan by its deadline?

“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.”
— Proverbs 4:25