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I love the underlying concept of work-life balance, but I don’t love the practicality of it. The word “balance” implies an even distribution over the course of time. So if you work too much one week, you will have to spend more time with the family the next, and vice-versa. You never arrive at your goal because this is an uncertain finish line. Luckily, there is a better way.

For years I have coached and trained others to live a more intentional life, and I am also on the same journey.  I have found that most people have a desire to change but become incredibly frustrated with the results they’re getting. Even worse, they look at those who seem to have it all together and have limiting beliefs that they can’t do the same.  I know how they feel as I have been there as well.

One of the greatest trades you can make when it comes to productivity is trading balance for healthy rhythms. While balance is unclear, rhythms are defined through a series of habits.

Almost forty percent of your actions are simply your habits according to the best selling book The Power of Habits. So if you change your habits, you will change your life. In order to create healthy rhythms, you will need to follow these five steps.

1. Decide on your goals.

The first step in the process of creating health in your life and business is deciding your desired destination, or goals. You need to clearly define what is your most important goal for the main areas of your life. We have our clients fill out a life and business plan.

Your goal should be in the form of x to y by z. For instance, your work goal may be to bring up sales revenue from one million dollars in quarter one to one million two hundred thousand dollars by the end of quarter 2. You may have a personal goal of losing fifteen pounds in the next 60 days.

2. Define your habits.

Once you have clarity on what your most important goal is for an area of life, you need to add the specific habit(s) that will help you to achieve it. Keep in mind that there are some habits, called keystone habits,  that set off a chain reaction for others to happen.

If you are a business owner, one of your habits could be to spend four hours a week working on the business instead of just in the business. Your keystone habit for your sales goal may be to contact ten loyal customers a week to see how they are doing and if they need any further assistance. Your habit to lose weight may be to write down your caloric intake every day and not to exceed so many calories.

Choose one or two habits that when done either on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, that will ensure that you will hit your goal.

3. Disrupt your schedule.

If the way you are currently spending your time is not giving you your desired results, then it’s time for a schedule change. You will most likely need to change your schedule to thrive in your key areas such as self-development, relationships, and business.

Some of your current fruitless activities will change and its place will be slotted for your new habits.

We look at the schedule a week at a time and call it our weekly rhythm. Inside your weekly rhythm is time to accomplish your habits and ultimately ensure reaching your goals.

4. Draw lines in the sand.

You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. In order to accomplish your goals, you are going to have to set some healthy boundaries in your life. There will be times when you say “no” to the good so you can say “yes” to the great.

Since you already have your time slots full of your new habits, you can say no to things since you have a prior commitment. This part will make or break your ability to grow your business or personal life.

5. Dig your heels in.

I would love to say that everything will magically fall into place once you start, but there will be resistance. That resistance will come from the fact you’re already predisposed to your current habits and life itself.

How long does it take to form a new habit? Though it varies, research shows it more likely to take two months or so. This is one of the benefits of our year-long leadership coaching program, the opportunity to solidify many new habits. Here is the good news–once something becomes a habit, it does not require much effort to keep it going.

Take some time and clarify your goals and follow the steps in order. Plan today for the business or life you want to live tomorrow.

Goals, benchmarks, and quotas, all represent something we are trying to achieve. Most people are not accomplishing the goals they want to achieve, so what’s the deal?

According to an article on Inc.com, over ninety-percent of people who set New Year’s resolutions never accomplish them.  That is a ton of people, not feeling pumped about their results. In fact, a little over forty-percent of people have never succeeded in accomplishing their goals or achieving their resolution.

I have worked in the for-profit and nonprofit world and have seen people and companies set all kinds of goals. Improve client relationships, reach more people, give more money away, or take in more money. Individuals have set goals for spending more time with God, eating healthier, exercising more, making a budget, and so forth. Most of these goals will never be brought to fruition without some extra help.

I want to focus on a few that are the major culprits in many of us not accomplishing our desired goals.

1. Goals are not specific enough.

The more specific and concrete a goal is, the more it inspires us. The most popular goal people want to achieve is to lose weight. However, the goal to lose weight is not specific.

The goal needs to be so specific that it fits in the formula x to y by time or specific frequency. So the goal of losing twenty-five pounds by Christmas, now that has something to hang your hat on. Alternatively, instead of saying, “I need to work out,” the goal should be “I’ll workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from six to seven in the morning.”

2. Goals are not staying in the forefront of your mind.

Initially, we are pretty excited about our goals, and they stay at the forefront of our minds for a short period of time. However, after a while, our goal(s) get lost in the whirlwind of our lives unless we have a way of keeping them front and center.

3. Goals are not given the needed time and resources to be accomplished.

In the pursuit of improving, we can try to take on too many goals at once. When we do this, we end up not being able to give the time and attention necessary to each goal. One of the most eye-opening realities of having too many goals came from the book 4 Disciplines of Execution.

If a team focuses on two or even three goals beyond the demands of their whirlwind, they can often accomplish them. However, if they set four to ten goals, our experience has been that they will achieve only one or two. They’ll be going backward! If they go after eleven to twenty goals in addition to the whirlwind, they will lose all focus.

Simply stated, there is a diminishing return when we add too many goals.

While there are other reasons you may not reach your goals, these are the three big ones. Now, it is time to take your goals by the horns and fix the problem with these solutions:

1. Make sure your goals are specific.

Go back through the goals you set and make sure they tell you what you want to do and include by when or how often. Remember, going on a date night with my wife or spending time with my kids is not specific, but a date night with my wife every other Friday at seven in the evening is.

2. Enlist accountability.

The first step to accountability is to keep yourself accountable by reviewing your goals weekly. I encourage you to make this a part of your weekly review. For businesses, your most important goal or two show be very clear to your team members and reinforced consistently and constantly.

You can take it a step further by enlisting someone to ask you whether you are keeping in tune with your goals. One of my clients has his team ask one another over a dozen questions weekly, and they keep track on a spreadsheet of their progress as pictured below.

3. Choose fewer goals so that you can accomplish more.

I know this may seem backward, but if you try to accomplish too much, you may end up accomplishing none of them. So go through your goals and choose the most important two or three goals that you want to accomplish. You will go further faster if you have fewer goals.

Keep in mind that there are some goals that enable you to accomplish others. For instance, if you have a goal to workout and have quiet time early in the morning, but struggle getting up early enough, simply accomplishing the goal of waking up earlier will help you accomplish the other two.

4. Decide on trade-offs.

If you add something to your life, you have to take away something else.

It is not as easy as it seems to simply add a goal to your life without subtracting something else to make room. For instance, if you love to binge watch Netflix shows late into the night, but also have a desire to wake up early in the morning, something will have to give.

As one person has said, sacrifice is giving up something you love for something you love more. Yes, you may love binge-watching Netflix, but you love waking up earlier more so you can work out, write a book, read a book, or have quiet time.

You can do anything, but you cannot do everything. Decide what are the necessary trade-offs and make time for what you desire.

If you follow these four-step process to accomplish your goals, you will accomplish more of what you set out to do.

I would love to ways that have helped you accomplish your goals or what has proved challenging.

Most people have goals, but not everyone knows the essentials needed to accomplish them.

This week I spent some time on a coaching call with a team from a private lender’s office. Less than a month ago, I had shared with them the knowledge of how to create plans for their personal and professional lives.

In our most recent call, I went over some of the potential pitfalls they may face in trying to make their plans. These are the things that could prevent them from moving forward to achieve their desired outcomes.

While preparing for this call I thought about three things necessary to achieve a goal.

1. Your What.

What are you trying to accomplish with this goal? I am not talking about a shot in the dark; like just wanting to become a better person. Your goals should be more specific than that.

Here are some examples of specific goals:

  • Pay off all my credit cards by Christmas.
  • Go on a date night every other Friday night with my spouse.
  • Workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 6-7 am.
  • Lose twenty pounds in the next 90 days.

2. Your Why.

This is just as important as knowing the what. Once you know what you want to do, you need to ask yourself the reason for wanting to accomplish this; the real purpose behind it. It may be that paying off that credit card debt will enable you to have a vacation next spring. Or maybe you feel that having a date night every other week will bring the passion back into your marriage.

It’s important to know and understand your purpose for setting that goal. It will be the driving force helping you accomplish what you have set out to do. If you are struggling to figure out the why, I can recommend an exercise I learned from Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. It is called, Complete the Sentence.

You take what you are wanting to accomplish and then fill in a benefit. You keep doing the exercise until you get right down to your real purpose. The more you do it, the more you get away from generic answers to the heart of the matter.

Let me give you an example. Let’s take the date-night goal. The complete sentence exercise would look like this: When I start going on a date night every other Friday with my spouse, I will_________. You fill in the blank. Now the first time you answer, you may write something like, “she will stop complaining that I never take her out.” Then, when you do the exercise again you may write, “she will be more interested in the things I am into.” You keep on doing it until you reach the real heart of the matter. The fifth time you fill in the blank you may write, “so we pursue each other like we did before we were married!”

3. Your Way.

You only set yourself up for success if you give yourself an avenue for accomplishing your goals. If you don’t give yourself a path to take, inertia will take over and you will go back to your old habits quickly.

For instance, if you want to pay off all your credit cards by Christmas you will need to lay some tracks to help you get there. Perhaps you decide that the way you are going to do it is by working out a budget for each month and begin using a cash envelope system. That is, you put cash in envelopes for gas, groceries, and entertainment. When the money is gone, you’re done till the next budget period. By doing this you are providing a way for you to make your goals actually happen.

You can begin to accomplish your goals by knowing the What, Why, and Way that suits you most. Take a look at your most current goals and see if any of these three are missing.