Thomas Edison once said “If we did things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”
But why is it that we always fall short ? Why do we not end up living to our full potential ? And how different would our lives be if we lived to our maximum potential everyday ?
12 week plans instead of 12 month plans could be an answer to all of them. Let us see how
- We don’t achieve our full potential, not because we lack ideas, but due to poor execution
They say “knowledge is power.” But having knowledge alone is not going to make a difference. Power comes from what you do with that knowledge.
Same is true in business, exam preparation, administration etc. Any great idea to see the light of the day has be well executed.
If you have a dream of achieving something. Think of it as a plan. Think of the course of action. Think of your first step. Look around to see how others have done it. Learn. Apply.
- Plan for 12 weeks instead of 12 months at a time.
Know why new year resolutions don’t last more than a week ? In the first week of
January, December looks like a very very long time away. If it’s a specific target that you’re
working towards, like reading 24 books by year end, you feel there is plenty of time to catch up. You would never feel the need to act with urgency.
We are aggressive and hard-working only as we near the deadline. Delivering 50% of the total output only in the last 2 months.
But if you planned for 12 weeks instead of 12 months, trying to meet quarterly targets. Your output will be balanced across the year. Increasing the chances of reaching your actual annual goal.
Olympic athletes and other sports persons do this. First they pick up one skill/ technique. Master it quickly in a short span of time and then move on to the next skill. This approach can pretty much work in any scenario.
12 weeks is long enough to do something meaningful and also short enough that you don’t keep delaying on your targets.
- Having a vision will improve your productivity
Vision inspires action. Visualise yourself as a district collector, being responsible for the well-being of hundreds of villages and lives of lakhs of people. This very thought can inspire you to work harder and extract more from every minute of your preparation effort.
But the vision you have needs to be clear, realistic and also singular. If you’re having multiple goals, one eating into the time of the other, all of them will ultimately collapse.
If you don’t have a vision at all, then do this. Take a piece of paper and write down what will matter to you the most 10 years from now. What you want your life and career to look like. Then, make it a little more specific and identify what you need to do in the next 3 years to eventually get there. Now, work backwards and identify what you need to do starting today.
- The 12 week plan
You might now think – I know what to do next, I don’t really need to write a plan for that.
Without a plan what happens is, your daily actions are driven by ‘triggers.’ Triggers could be from social media, family, friends etc. Just suddenly deciding to do something because it feels good and allowing it to hijack the plan you originally had.
So ultimately you will be driven by short-term needs rather than chasing your long term vision. You would love the feeling of being too busy, but will end up getting nowhere.
So make a daily plan for the next 12 weeks. Make a realistic plan. Allow time for breaks and relaxation.
Write down measurable targets as your daily goals. Like how many chapters or pages you want to read.
The tasks you plan to do everyday, should be the most crucial tasks that will take you to your 12 week goal.
You are 80% more likely to execute a written plan than a plan you have in your mind.
- How to overcome challenges and not lose track
In Boxing champion Mike Tyson’s words, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Yes, certainly challenges will come your way. A sick parent you need to attend to, a different assignment or even things like a movie or dinner plan can keep you away from your daily target.
This is when, having a group of trusted, dedicated peers or a mentor will help. Force of group willpower is always much stronger than individual willpower.
Report to each-other on what progress you’ve made, at least once every week. The very fact that somebody else is evaluating your performance will drive you to stick to the targets. And they can also provide the moral support you need to deal with distress.
- What is not measured, cannot be controlled
This is the logic behind periodic releases of Inflation indices, growth figures, quarterly reports of companies etc.
Measuring what you’re doing every-day : like number of hours spent studying or pages covered or questions you have answered are a great way to track your progress.
You can log what you’ve done either on an excel sheet or a note book.
Just remember one thing. If you’re doing your duty and reaching even 85% of your daily targets you will almost certainly reach your dream goal.
Even if someday you do no work at all. Log 0.
Make measurement a habit. Don’t be a quitter.
- How to strategically manage your time.
To make every moment count you need to do this. There are 2 kinds of tasks – ones that take you to your goal (strategic tasks) and ones that are routine tasks. You should ensure that routine tasks don’t end up hijacking your strategic tasks.
How to do that ?
You need to have something we can call “Protected Time.” And this is the way to do it
- Set aside a 3 hour period when you will not accept any kind of interruptions. No WhatsApp, no Facebook, no phone. You will need to give undivided attention to the strategic tasks. You can have 2-3 of these periods every day.
- Next, set aside 1 hour, twice everyday, when you will deal ONLY with these distracting tasks. Like watch YouTube videos, answer to whatsapp messages etc.
- Dedicate at least half an hour everyday, away from your place, to take a walk or do a work-out. This will help you stay fresh, focused and energetic.
These protected time blocks should be a part of your daily plan.
- Take ownership for your success
Never blame your circumstances. It’s your project, your dream and you are not answerable to anybody else but yourself. Playing the victim card can only get you some sympathy. Nothing more.
Of course you can’t control yours circumstances, but you can control how you respond to them. You can prevent yourself from sinking into a negative emotion, that can ruin your whole day.
When you take accountability for your outcomes, failure is nothing more than feedback. You can mend your ways and be back at chasing your target.
If you are pointing fingers at your circumstances, you will have no reason make corrections.
Best Wishes !
Officers IAS Academy – Best IAS Academy in Chennai