The “Brain dump” approach to goal setting

January 14th, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on The “Brain dump” approach to goal setting

Hi Lifetickers,

As mentioned in our recent post, we wanted to share with you a variety of approaches to setting your goals in Lifetick.  What I’ve found is that there is never a perfect way and quite often I personally will oscillate between extremes. Nevertheless, I think this can be a positive because it means your mind is finding ways to make it work which is the priority! Alternatively, it can mean we are finding ways to procrastinate or avoid facing the task of actually completing the tasks themselves!

So without further ado, let’s begin with what is perhaps the most common approach which I affectionately refer to as the “Brain Dump” approach. It begins with what is a fury of excitement and activity. This of course is a highly favourable disposition and mode of operation. Why? Because it means people are throwing all those loose ideas and long held dreams and aspirations into Lifetick in a blaze of glory. The key to this is to see it through. The more you put in the more a picture will begin to form and the more you will understand just how big this can be. Initially, this will be extremely appealing and will lead you to understand all the things that are important to you. In your exuberance, it’s likely you will:

  • Set quite a number of goals
  • Set aggressive timeframes for achievement
  • Put email reminders on all your tasks and
  • Log in each day and refine and add tasks and journal notes

Now this is a great start, but there are some risks. Very few people can actually sustain motivation and activity in this way.  Here’s where it gets troublesome:

  • There are just too many goals to manage and it seems overwhelming
  • In your earnestness to achieve, you are now getting a deluge of task reminders which then compounds if/when you miss due dates
  • You realise achieving goals is hard and start to have doubts about it all
  • You start to question which goals are actually important to you and finally
  • Your initial excitement starts to wane.

However, being aware of potential pitfalls will help you transition into a more sustainable way of working diligently (at a pace that suits you) to achieve your goals. The initial exuberance can now be converted into something more aligned to you and your way of working. It’s ok to face our limitations. It’s only when this happens that we know where they are and what it will take to extend them. So, how do we make this transition? Here are some tips:

  1. Review all your goals. If you have some doubts or misgivings, maybe push the due dates out or convert some to Dreams. This will immediately take the pressure off.
  2. Focus on your timelines for your remaining goals. How aggressive were they? Can you perhaps extend their due dates to give you more time?
  3. Make sure your tasks are granular. This will make each task easier to tick off as complete and give you a small sense of achievement and progress. Never underestimate these small wins.
  4. Review your reminders. Not every task need a reminder. Think about when you want a reminder for each task. Some only need a reminder on the day, whereas others that take some effort might need a reminder a week before. Mixing up the reminders has the added benefit of creating diversity which ensures your brain doesn’t go into auto-pilot when receiving them. This means you are more likely to pay attention to the reminder because you have to think for an extra few seconds about when the task is due and what needs to happen before then.
  5. Add a note in your journal every time you log in. Sometimes when reviewing goals there are no actions to do, e.g. tasks to complete. Rather than feel you have logged in for nothing, add a short journal note every time you log in. This will 1) give you an action to do, 2) crystallise your thoughts because you are taking time to write them down and 3) build a great habit – journaling.

The most important thing about goals is they are not set and forget. They are likely to change and evolve and therefore, this should be embraced. The more time you spend thinking about them and working toward them, the more you will come to understand what is actually important to you. Sometimes, some things we thought were really important just aren’t. Likewise, other pursuits become even more important to us the more we think and work toward achieving them. I love the Brain Dump approach because it really clears the head and gets it all out there. But like everything in life, it is something that needs constant refining, revisiting and reimagining. So don’t lose heart if it isn’t perfect from day one. It’s not meant to be!

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