Can Your Goal Use A Sprint?

2019 is here and we all know what that means.  Goals, resolutions and commitments!  

There’s something exciting about the fresh start of a brand-new year that inspires us to create goals.  The more we envision ourselves living out our goals, the better we feel about getting started.  And we do just that – start.  But then…something happens.  Some goals get accomplished, and for whatever reason, some don’t.  This year let’s put two things in practice. First, let’s focus on the goals that really ‘matter most’ to us.  And second, let’s do the work so that our goals will ‘go-live’ on schedule! 

Start from Now 

We’re well into March, it’s a great time to check in on your progress.  So, how are you doing? Goals take time, work and consistency to accomplish.  If you haven’t started yet, or if you’ve stopped along the way.  It’s okay.  Be gentle with yourself.  Start from now. 

So, What’s the Plan? 

The power of reaching ‘time goals is doing the right work at the right time!  It all boils down to 2 questions: 

  1. What’s the work? 
  2. When do I need to get it done?

Break your goal into manageable bite size tasks over time.  Make sure your tasks are specific and measurable. This can really set you up for a win.    

Make it Doable 

It’s super important to be agile.   As funny as it may seem.  You should expect the unexpected.  Life can life you out of nowhere so save enough elbow room on your calendar for the unexpected. This gives you time to pivot, shift or juggle your schedule to meet the demands of life’s unexpected moments.  You may need to change your approach to accomplish your tasks, but quitting is not an option.  Resilience is a must! 

Try a Sprint 

Imagine running full speed with one of your tasks to finish it as quickly as YOU can.  By full speed , I mean applying your focus and energy to get your task done in a short period of time. It can be 7, 14, 21 or 30 days.  You decide.  The important part is that you pick a task that you know you can ‘get done’ within the time you set.  Here’s how:

  1. Break your goal into manageable bite size tasks?     
  2. Ask yourself, “What task can I get done in a 7, 14, 21 or 30 day timebox?” 
  3. Pick one of those tasks
  4. Share your sprint task with an accountability partner.  Telling someone else helps to keep you committed to completing your sprint.
  5. Schedule in about 5 – 10 minutes a day, during your sprint, to answer 3 questions
    • What did I do yesterday?
    • What will I do today?
    • What obstacles do I need to work through?

Work Through Your Obstacles 

One of my friends scheduled 3 days to complete one of her tasks.  She was excited.  Mostly because she was finally able to schedule herself in – to put what she always wanted to do on her calendar.  Passion filled her voice as she discussed the details.  Without my asking she leaped in to share how this task would step her closer to her dream goal.  And just like that, I realized this was no ordinary goal.  This was her passion project! 

The next time we talked I asked her if she completed her task.  She said, “No, not yet”.  Frustrated for not finishing ‘on time’, she completely stopped.  I could tell she felt disappointed.  She went on to explain that day 1 and day 2 went well, but day 3 was the challenge.  Day 3 was the final step.  To her this was an important step to show proof of completion.  

It made me think of the show Chopped that I watch on the Food Network.  Chefs have a certain amount of time to make a meal out of the ingredients that are given to them.  When the host calls time the proof of their completed meal must be on the plate.  I’ve never seen a chef stare into an empty plate, but I have seen one or two forget to put a critical ingredient on the plate.  I could only imagine the feeling.  I watched them realize they missed an ingredient; glance over at it; and then blank stare relentlessly into the plate.  I wondered if they wished for little more time.  My friend looked like those chefs. 

We discovered why day 3 was such a challenge.  It was quite simple.  She assumed she knew how to complete the final step of the task, but she realized she didn’t.  She spent a lot of time spinning trying to figure it out on the fly, then finally gave up. 

In retrospect, she didn’t leave enough room on her calendar to educate herself on the process.   We realized giving herself 4 – 5 days instead of 3 would have given her the space she needed to overcome the knowledge obstacle. We celebrated the steps she completed on day 1 and 2.  I encouraged her to build the knowledge she needs and to restart and ‘finish’ day 3. 

Call it 

When your sprint is finished, ask yourself 

  1. How did it go?
  2. Did I get everything done?
  3. What did I learn that can help me with my next sprint?

As you lean in to complete your goals, sprints are good options to build a track record of success and confidence.  Plus, they get you even closer to your goal or passion project’s ‘go-live’ date.