The previous post discussed achieving a goal and turning a vague aspiration or dream into concrete reality. This post addresses a few pitfalls and provides insight into what you may encounter as you strive to reach your goal. If you missed Part One – catch up here.

Depending upon your goal (for example, permanent weight loss and fitness, long-term savings growth, or ongoing business success), you should think about what to do once you do reach your goal. In other words, achieve the goal AND a sustainable outcome.

Planning for setbacks

Planning for contingencies is important. It is all too easy to get derailed psychologically and lose focus when something catches us off guard. Be aware of possible detours and delays. Have a plan and a schedule that is flexible enough to accommodate this.

Steady does it

Professional organizations often rush things. To remain competitive, they try to adopt what has worked elsewhere, without realizing an internal culture (mindset) change is needed first.

Change requires time to integrate, become accepted, and routine to be successful. Speeding up change through artificial means (think steroids for accelerated muscle development) often has negative consequences and does not translate into a sustainable change of habits. Successful short cuts to positive, lasting change (either personal or professional) are very, very rare.

To prevent this, approach your goal decisively but gradually. Whatever outcome you are aiming for, success translates to the process of doing things consistently. The change must also be sustainable after the outcome has been reached (for example, losing weight and keeping it off require very similar actions, just across different time scales.) Patience and perseverance are required and will be rewarded.

Measure, but do not obsess

In regard to tracking your progress, determine the essential balance between not holding yourself accountable enough and wanting to measure and track everything. Measuring data that are not pertinent to your goal requires time and effort better spent elsewhere. Avoid frustration and don’t abandon worthwhile initiatives for the wrong reason.

Lean is a popular philosophy of work and improvement characterized by a focus on reducing waste. Spending time on activities that do little or nothing to help you get closer to your desired outcome should be eliminated or limited. For example, if you are dieting to achieve a target weight, don’t weigh yourself three times a day. Progress is not measured in ounces. Instead, weigh yourself once a week, at similar times, on the same scale, and in similar conditions (clothes, before or after a meal, etc.)

If you are exercising, consistency is far more important than always going for a ‘best time.’ It is better not to miss a workout than to shave a few seconds off your personal best, unless you are trying to qualify for a race or similar event. Be as high-tech as you want, but focus on (and measure) the right things. Do not confuse having the latest calorie-measuring gadget with effort. While techno-toys may provide helpful data and information, it is your self-discipline and persistence alone that will see you through.

Strive for balance

While trying to achieve an outcome in your life, do not let other important items fall off the radar. This is another example where some organizations intently focus, for example, on controlling costs while ignoring quality of service. To address this, some organizations use ‘balanced scorecards’ to collectively assess finance, quality, production, customer service, and keep a focus on all of them.

Do not be so single-minded in your self-improvement efforts that you neglect other important aspects in your life. Such an imbalance may be setting your effort up to be unsustainable and impact others close to you negatively

Think ‘after the outcome’

Any process change or improvement effort supposedly ends at some point. What then? Professionals put in place a series of ‘controls’ to ensure that if staff lose focus, are moved to other teams, or new priorities come to the fore, good outcomes and processes are not lost.

How do you maintain your gains in everyday life? A new you requires new habits. Upon reaching your goal, you need awareness of what to integrate (or not) into your life your going forward. Apply what you accomplished in your saving process for a trip to an upcoming home remodel or car purchase. If your goal was related to physical fitness, continue to avoid junk food and exercise regularly. Hanging out with like-minded people is also a way to reinforce your newly acquired behaviors and stay away from opportunities to stray. Be deliberate

In conclusion, plan your next goal with the confidence that it can be done. Confidence is perhaps the best outcome of all, as a successfully managed process improvement effort plants the seeds in your mind for equally successful future ones.

achievementDario is a process engineer, consultant, and world traveler.  His specialty is performance improvement and analytics within healthcare and business.  He  is also a keen observer who mentors others to benefit lives and commerce. He enjoys long swims and is an accomplished photographer.

Find his photography here Dario’s photography

He blogs on technical stuff at NoHarmNoWaste

See him on LinkedIn here provides inspiration and insight for those over 50 who continue to change the world – and for those who love them.