If you have an ambitious professional goal you’re aiming for this year, the way to accomplish it is to ritualize your efforts and priorities. You create a ritual when you get in the habit of behaving in certain ways consistently over time.
Whether you’re able to make the leap to your perfect schedule or not, take a few minutes and ritualize the important things you need to accomplish. Learn to ritualize positive behaviors by completing them at the same time daily. Doing so will speed up the process of forming positive habits, because it takes much of the thinking out of doing.
You already ritualize behaviors every day without thinking about it. Making coffee when you wake up. Reading the morning paper. Brushing your teeth. Rituals punctuate and characterize certain times of day.
You can do the same thing with three small daily behaviors, or daily “process goals,” that will get you closer to achieving your big professional objective, your “product goal.”
Let’s say doubling your sales numbers is your product goal. Then your three daily process goals might be: making five cold calls; checking in with a high-value client; and doing 15 minutes of industry reading and research every single day. Ritualize your three daily process goals for this month by doing them before other projects or tasks get in your way. First thing in the morning is a good rule of thumb.
Schedule Your Priorities
Pull out your day planner right now and insert time slots into your schedule to complete every one of your three daily process goals. Usually when I make this suggestion, people look at me like I’m joking. I’m not joking. Scheduling your goals is the best way to achieve them and be accountable to yourself.
Be realistic in estimating the time you need to fully complete your process goals. Be sure to prioritize your priorities by securing space early in your day for completion of your most important process goals. Technology can help you here. Use the repeat function to prioritize a task into your schedule for the whole year. Use the alert function to schedule an alert that will remind you that it’s process goal time. If you are a paper calendar person, handwrite these appointments in your calendar for at least the next 12 months. Yes, it’s that important.
As you are securing the daily time slots to complete all process goals, make the commitment to yourself that you will use the self-discipline required to work only on process goals during the time slots chosen. If completing process goals means you can’t get to all the items on your to-do list, so be it.
As long as you’ve checked off each process goal every day, you are demonstrating that you are prioritizing your priorities. Make the decision each and every day, without excuses, to start and complete your process goals, and you will see just how attainable greatness really is.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of elevating your process goals to the level of appointments on your calendar. By treating your process goals as daily rituals, you will be much more likely to complete them and boost your self-confidence, improve your personal and professional productivity, and dramatically increase your chances of success.