Here we are a few weeks into “our new normal” the shock is starting to wear off and our reality is settling in. We don’t know what the next few weeks and months will bring but we do know life – and business – must go on. So, how do we continue to strive to meet our objectives while it seems pretty impossible? The vision for how we meet those objectives may no longer work. Do we put those on hold or do we look at them differently? Well, it’s not one size fits all, that’s for sure. Each organization and person are different and your goals are unique. I would like to offer an approach intended to get you reflecting on your very own circumstances and get you closer to your best next step.
Stephen Covey says it best: “Begin With the End in Mind” in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When we consciously decide what we want our outcomes to be we are able to develop a “blueprint” in our minds. This conscious vision is what helps to reduce the likelihood you will need to repeat, circle back or duplicate your efforts – or those of your team – thereby reducing the likelihood of spending more time and money.
Whether your priorities remain the same as they were at the start of 2020 or if they have changed since COVID-19 has impacted the way we work and play, it is HOW we will accomplish our goals – the blueprint – that has thrown us a serious curve ball. This is where I suggest we shift our thinking for this new blueprint.
When considering your top priority, try to picture where you want be in three months. Take a moment to create a detailed picture of the end state you envision (who, what, where, when) in order to then walk through the planning process of the new blueprint.
Ask yourself the following questions (I suggest writing down your answers):
- What is my biggest priority?
- Is this a new priority?
- Will my blueprint to getting to this outcome need to change?
- If so, what aspects might need to change?
Spend some time here pondering what parts of this path may need to change. For example: Were you going to get together to negotiate? Did you plan to make new sales? Were you going to conduct a workshop to attract new business? Were you to develop a strategic plan? Were you going to change jobs?
The specifics of what need to change don’t necessarily need to have a negative impact on your priority. You may need to shift a deadline or adjust your messaging, but your vision will still come to fruition. Anyone who has worked with me knows that I often use the expression “baby steps”. This is my way of breaking-down many steps into manageable, bite-sized pieces. This can be especially helpful in times of high stress when we want to reduce complexity and increase focus.
Now ask your self the following questions designed to help you break-down your steps into manageable pieces:
- What is one step that I can take tomorrow to get me closer to my goal?
- What is getting in my way?
- What support do I need to accomplish this?
- Who can I communicate my new plan with?
- Who can help hold me accountable?
By thoughtfully working through the “baby steps” you need to take to reach your priorities in your new reality, you can observe what steps can remain the same and which ones need to shift. Then, you can tackle them one-by-one and see where you may need help, what might be standing in your way and who you can share your plan with to help retain the focus needed. Perhaps you require different people, additional skill sets, new messaging or to engage people differently but you can find a way. We may not need to put our priorities “on hold” for the unforeseeable future, but rather we may just need to shift how we will accomplish them.
Thanks to our team member, Susan McGuire for this great post.