And it starts now…..
We all know that prior planning and preparation prevent poor performance (with or without another ‘P’). We all prepare for important meetings, sporting events and emergency situations. We get children’s lunches and school bags ready, pack our gym kit the night before, make lists before we go to the shops and check out route and travel information before we go on long journeys. Some things, however, just get taken for granted and it’s often these little things that can make the difference to whether we get what we are striving for in life.
How often do we devote real time to planning how we are going to make the best of the week ahead? By that I don’t just mean navigating from one event to another, frantically trying to ensure we get all our proverbial ducks in a row in our personal and professional lives. I mean actually getting to the end of the week feeling fulfilled and knowing that we have moved ourselves at least one step closer to our goals, in whatever area of our life they may be and however large or small.
If we don’t dedicate time to thinking about setting ourselves up for a successful week, invariably one of two outcomes occurs; either a) we drift through the week doing what we think we need to do and get to the end not really feeling like we’ve achieved anything in particular or b) the whole week is a mad panic where we feel like we are keeping our many plates spinning and the sole aim is to get to the weekend with as many plates intact as possible ready to do it all again next week, whilst never really quite remembering what all the plates are up there for in the first place.
There is a way to change this and it doesn’t take long to do. Take a moment now to invest the time to set yourself up to have the week you want to have. It only takes a few minutes and there are just six simple questions to consider:
1) How will you know that this week has been a great week?
As Stephen Covey says, begin with the end in mind. Picture yourself looking back on your week next Sunday….. how will you know it’s been a great week? What will have happened? What will other people have been saying to you? What will you be saying to yourself? Take some time to build a rich picture in your mind, immersing yourself in the sounds and feelings. This is the first step to making your week turn out the way you want it to; give your subconscious a goal and it will look for ways to make it happen.
2) What was the difference that made the difference last week?
Something made a difference last week…. Maybe it was a conversation with someone or something you did. Whatever it was, at the time you felt good: maybe more productive or “in the zone”; maybe your sports session went better or your meeting went more smoothly; maybe you received a compliment or had one of those private “woohoo” or “yes!” moments (did you do the dance?) Think back to whatever it was that made that difference. How can you bring that something or someone into this week and make that effect even more positive? What do you need to do differently?
3) What’s the one thing you can do this week that’s going to move you one step closer to your goal?
Remind yourself of your goal or goals. What is the one thing that you need to have done by the end of this week that will move you one step closer towards achieving them? What do you need to be doing each day to ensure that you get that “one thing” done? How are you going to prioritise these tasks to make sure they get done and that you are on track at the end of the week? Maybe reading this you’ve realised that you’ve lost sight of your goals in all the chaos of everyday life. Your “one thing” this week is therefore to dedicate time to thinking about what it is you want to be, do and have in life and reconnect with your dreams.
4) What do you need to believe to make this a great week?
Take a moment to consider about what you are already thinking about this week… Do you believe that it’s going to be great or are there more negative thoughts in your head? If you aren’t convinced about its positive potential, what is the belief that you need to change? It could be about the tasks that need doing, the resources you have or your own ability to do them. Are you thinking that it’s going to be a mad rush to get everything done….. do you need to believe that you do have enough time to accomplish all the important tasks? Is there a difficult conversation that you need to have that you need to believe is going to go well because you have the skills and the confidence to do it? It could be that there’s a big test or event that you don’t feel you’ve had enough time to prepare for…. How about believing that you are ready? Changing what you think about something will change how you feel about it and this in turn will change your behavior. If you think positively, you will act resourcefully and this in turn will lead to other people interacting with you in a positive manner and you will see opportunities rather than obstacles in your path
5) Who is on your team this week and what do they need from you?
“We are stronger together than we are alone”
Sometimes our team is obvious – it could be our colleagues at work or the sports team around us. But who are our core team? Who’s really in our corner this week and how are they going to make the difference for us? Out of all our colleagues, it is probably a key one or two. What about our family and friends; how are they going to help us?
If we need our team to help us get where we need to get to and have our backs, what do they need from us? They need to know how valuable they are to us as people and they need to know the plan – that way they can help to make it happen and they will want to feel a part of the accomplishment. How are you going to take time to ensure they know what part they are going to play and which of their skills and strengths they are going to be using? How will they know what success looks and feels like? Is there anyone who needs anything different from you; maybe someone just needs an encouraging word or a few minutes feeling listened to and valued. Give yourself to others and they will make your week great for you.
6) Am I on track?
Over the course of the week, revisit the questions above and ask yourself if you’re still on target. If you are, that’s great and if not then no problem; you’re now aware of it and can think about what you need to do to get back on course.
Make sure you take the time over the week to celebrate the things that are going well and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment at the end of the week.
So there you have it; you know where you want to get to, how you’re going to get there and who is coming with you on the journey. Best of all, it’s not just for this week either; you’ve now got the skill and by the end of the week you’ll know that it works. Now stop reading this and go and be great.
All credit to Rupert Fawcett and his Off the Leash cartoons… one for every occasion