Prepare for a comeback by working on your goals – Goal-Setting tips

I’m recovering from a very difficult situation and I need distraction. I thought, what better way to that but to work on some goals.

I reviewed my goals and wrote action plans using the SMART technique and the Long-term, Medium-term and Short-term approach. I started off well, but eventually I lost my motivation. I still want my goals alright, but I’m lacking drive.

I looked on the internet for alternatives, and found a post from Ness Lab about SMART goals not being so smart.

The article introduced a concept called PACT , and it made more sense to me. PACT stands for Purposeful, Actionable, Continuous and Trackable. It focuses on output rather than outcome.

  • Purposeful – A goal should be in line with our passion and objective in life. Doing so will make you feel more motivated.

  • Actionable – It should be doable.

  • Continuous – It should encourage continuous improvement, not the end.

  • Trackable – Your progress should be easily traced. A “Yes/No” approach is simple way to track goals.

Now comes the hard part , starting to working on the goal. If you’re an overachiever like me, then you probably stretch yourself out too thin leading to exhaustion. I have tendencies to bite more than I can chew so I always end up overwhelmed.

I always forgot that we only have finite amount of energy, time and resources, and that we need to use them wisely.

So far, these are the ticks I used to keep me motivated and make things more enjoyable.

1. Assess and Eliminate

I want to be a jack of all trades. But it’s too tiring and demotivating because I have no expertise. So, I decided to streamline my goals list using Warren Buffet’s “2 List” strategy. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Write down your top 25 goals.

Step 2: Circle your top 5 goals from the list. The points you circled are in the A list, and the ones you didn’t are in the B list.

Step 3: Start working on your goals written on the A list and pay no attention to your B list until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.

Keeping only 5 out of the 25 is a bit hard. I felt sad that I have to choose, but I also felt relieved knowing that I could focus my time and energy in what I really want to do.

2. Habit Association

This is a powerful tool in building a new habit. To do this, fill in this sentence: Before/After “Old Habit”, I will “New Habit”. It would also help if you attach a reason to your new habit. An example would be: Before I drink my tea, I will do 5 pushups. By doing 5 pushups, I’m strengthening my upper body.

3. Prioritization

Distractions are all over the place. We often do things that shift our attention away from our goals. Here are some of the ways to get things done through the process of prioritisation.

Eisenhower Matrix

You must have seen this matrix numerous times. Why? Because it simply works.

Dwight Eisenhower is the 34th president of the United States and a five-star general during World War II. He understood the difference between urgency and importance.

Eisenhower Matrix (also known as Eisenhower Box or Time-Management Matrix) has four quadrants

Eisenhower Matrix from Teaminaror Blog
Eisenhower Matrix (Source: Teaminaror blog)

Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important

These are goals/task that requires immediate attention.

Quadrant 2: Not Urgent and Important

These are goals/tasks that needs to be scheduled.

Quadrant 3: Urgent and Unimportant

These are the ones that requires delegation.

Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Unimporant

These are the ones that needs to be avoided at all cost.

Ivy Lee Method

Mr. Ivy Lee was a successful business man, and is a highly-respected productivity consultant. In 1918, he was hired by Mr. Charles M. Schwab, president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation and was one of the riches men in the world of his time, to improve his team’s productivity.

As the story goes, Mr. Ivy Lee offers his service for free, but after 3 months, Mr. Schwab was so pleased with the results that he wrote a check to Mr. Lee for $25,000 (equivalent to $400,000 today).

Ivy Lee’s strategy is simple, but it is sure to perk up your productivity.

Step 1: At the end of the day, write down 6 important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than 6 task.

Step 2: Arrange your task in order of importance.

Step 3: The next day, concentrate in performing on the first task. Finish the first task before moving on to the second task. Follow the same fashion in performing the rest of the task.

Step 4: Should there be any task left by close of day, move them to your new list for the following day.

Step 5: Repeat the process.


Single-tasking is simply focusing on one task at a time. Doing so will result to higher quality efficiently.

It is actually a bit more challenging than you think, specially with our current environment. However, with constant practice, this could be achieved.

I listen to podcast or music when I eat. Occasionally, I check on social media. There are times that I get too distracted with what I saw on my feeds that I lost appetite with my food. I also eat longer than it has to.

I remember feeling agitated. I kept reaching out for my phone and I kept standing up because I’m distracted. The experience was not pleasant. Eventually, I got used to just eating. I started appreciating my food more and I eat a little bit faster now.

4. Visualization

Having visual triggers serve as reminder to start a new behavior and also increases your motivation.

Paperclip method

This helps specially when you are working on a goal that is intangible or something that requires consistent effort before having noticeable results like toning your body or improving on your writing skills. To execute this method, you only need two things: 2 jars and paperclips.

Step one: Place all paperclips in one jar.

Step two: Choose a habit.

Step three: Once you perform that habit, move a paperclip to the empty jar.

This simple solution work wonders in increasing your productivity.

Change your environment to help you work towards your goals

Our surroundings affects us more than the credit we give it. It dictates what we choose to do. If your surrounding is full of distractions, then most probably than not, you’ll end up doing the things that hampers you from your visions. Setting our environment to more convenient to perform our goals would help us foster the right attitude and habits.

Well, I must say, what better way to do a comeback, but to be a better person than yesterday. Comment below if tried these methods or if you have tips and tricks on how to improve your productivity and motivation to achieve your goals.

To Summarize:

Create PACT goals. PACT standards for Purposeful, Actionable, Continuous and Trackable.

Start working on your goals by following these methods:

1. Assess and Eliminate – Try Warren Buffet’s “2 list” to streamline your goals.

2. Habit Association – to effectively develop a new habit, fill in this sentence: “Before/After (old habit), I will (new habit).

3. Prioritization – choose among these merhids

4. Visualization – have visual cues to serve as your reminder to develop new habits.

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