When I work with coaching clients, a challenge they share is having too much on their plates. In your career, this quagmire can directly impact the achievement of your goals and the greater goals of the company. This fosters uncertainty about how to approach a sizable career goal, which in turn often leads to fear and procrastination, putting you in danger of surrendering altogether. It’s one sure way not to exhibit the Grit you’ll need to pull ahead.
In my recent article Gettin’ Gritty, I laid out the roadmap for accomplishing goals that seem intimidating, including a little brain science and an example of a quarterly breakdown that carves the goal into bite-sized morsels. Once you’ve absorbed this new approach, and are breathing easier, your next move is to embed the baby steps for setting out on your journey. This sort of intentionality will prompt you to set up simple and consistent protocols to avoid being bumped off course by the realities of the day (the over-abundance of information and the distractions all around you, as examples.)
My ambitious goal of placing the Confidence Workshop I delivered in 7 markets across the country, for instance, wasn’t the only one on my plate, and it still isn’t. And I‘m not alone. By interesting parallel, a survey taken by the participants in that workshop revealed that a full 71% feel they are juggling too many plates. After all, in any attempt to further your own goals, you have a responsibility to your team and to the leadership of your firm as well. You also need to network, engage in continuing education, do expense reports, mentor others….and the list goes on! How does one find a balance, and ultimately, work toward greater goals?
One wise way to get your priorities in order is to commit to protocols that ensure some of your many responsibilities are covered through routine, also known as habits— such a wonderful word to use in the positive sense, instead of being preceded by “bad”. It’s essential to develop multiple tiny habits to employ daily and weekly, while simultaneously anchoring time in your schedule to devote to working towards the big goals. This step is the linchpin to success in an era when there are interruptions and distractions galore. We can easily drown in a sea of crises to solve, email to respond to, and other people’s needs and requests. Grit, my friends, is the employment of ruthless prioritization, delegation, saying “no”, and setting boundaries. It may sound overwhelming (as it does to some of my clients) until it gets broken down into those aforementioned morsels.
Where To Start
The roadmap sample from my previous article, by design, would be further detailed down to the smallest and most realistically achievable steps. An example would read, “Block off the 30 minutes each day that I will devote to connecting with three contacts”. The action item would be to physically go into my schedule and block off the time, just as I would before meeting with a prospect, or a client, or my cousin for dinner.
Setting boundaries to protect your time is one of the aspects of time and energy management that seems most pervasively difficult with clients. To give you an idea of the severity, 80% of the participants in that Confidence program I mentioned in my example said they had a hard time saying “no” to requests that didn’t specifically forward their goals or their firm’s goals. Grit, as it turns out, implies having some backbone!
A Full Picture of Grit
The courage required to do this becomes more accessible when you assess the direct connection between someone’s request and your ultimate goals. When I opened a restaurant in the 90s, a friend gave me some wise advice, comparing my new business to a baby. People were going to try and tug at its arms and legs, and not feed it properly, making it my job to protect this child. Facing thousands of decisions each day, I would go through the mental checklist, with this as the bottom line: “Will my actions equate to a net positive for my business?”
One intentional practice you can rehearse starting now is acting out that gut-check. If your decision is based soley on emotion, as in, “I really like Kate and want to help”, it may not be in alignment with your goals. If, indeed, the request is in-line with your own goals or your company goals, begin to block out time for this effort.
In a nutshell, the full picture of Grit should look like this: Your big, audacious, Mt Everest-sized goal needs to align with your values. To begin to scale the mountain and ultimately plant your flag at the summit, you must create the path that gets you there. This starts with the tiny first step to begin your climb. Then, it’s time to secure and protect your course, to ensure you don’t run out of steam on your climb.
As a follow-up to this outlook on Grit, we’ll next tie in another essential component: Tenacity.
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