Whatever your unique context, with the clock ticking down, it pays to be strategic
And so here we are: staring down the barrel of the end of another year. Q4 begins October 1. That means those of us who set end-of-year goals back in January––which many of us did––have but three more months to accomplish them.
To borrow a cliche, it’s go time.
So long as you’re inspired––and I’m assuming that you are––the question now becomes how, exactly, should you best go about completing your end-of-year goals? Is it best to lower your head and barrel forward? Do you need to commit to sacrificing your nights and weekends? Or is a more balanced approach called for? One that prioritizes meticulous planning over relentless forward motion?
Personally, I’m prioritizing my mental health––rejecting my more indolent impulses and challenging myself to expand what might be possible for me to do or achieve.
Whatever your unique context, with the clock ticking down, it in fact pays to be both relentless and strategic––to create a plan designed specifically to help you do what you need to do as well as most effectively utilize your mental and physical energy.
Here are a few ways you can go about doing that, according to certain founders who’re no strangers to accomplishing difficult things on a tight deadline.
Nicolas Cole: Break down your big goal into smaller goals, accomplishable on monthly, weekly, and daily scales.
“Truthfully, goal-setting is easy.
It’s the accountability side of things people struggle with.
Instead of thinking about Q4 as one massive chunk of time (90 days), try to visualize it as 3 separate chapters (October, November, December). Then, break each one of those chapters down into sub-chapters (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4). And then within those sub-chapters, really internalize each day that makes up each one of those weeks (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7).
Now, set micro-goals for each.
Where do you want to be at the end of, say, October? And what do you need to achieve in order to get there? How can you break those goals down into weekly milestones? And how can you break each one of those milestones down into daily micro-milestones?
The more you can help yourself see the next step in front of you (opposed to the entire 3-month journey), the more likely you are to remain consistent and connected to the process.”
Tero Isokaupilla: Keep track of your vitals to avoid burnout.
“Stress can hurt your productivity. The two key indicators of stress are heart rate variability (HRV) and cortisol levels. When we experience stress, our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode and release cortisol, the primary stress hormone. And when cortisol levels build up in the blood, it wreaks havoc on your mind and body.
HRV measures the variation in time between each heartbeat. When your system is in more of a fight-or-flight mode, the variation between heartbeats is low. When you’re more relaxed, the variation between beats is high.
For those who love data and numbers, monitoring your cortisol and HRV levels can be a great way to track how your nervous system is reacting to your environment, emotions, thoughts, and feelings.
When I’m in “Go Mode,” I get my blood work done every six weeks to track my cortisol levels. I also use the Oura Ring, which tracks heart rate, pulse amplitude, respiratory rate, body temperature, and even the slightest hand and finger movements. There are other products out there to measure HRV — like the Fitbit Ionic, the CORE armband, and the Apple Watch Series 3.
The important thing is to regularly assess to ensure burnout––and a subsequent halt in productivity––isn’t imminent.”
Read more here.
Praveen Tipirneni: Identify your weaknesses so you can mitigate them.
“I was listening to Tim Ferriss interview Malcolm Gladwell recently, and Ferriss asked him about his weaknesses. Gladwell’s response was that he tends to hurry through some tasks too quickly, without taking the time he really needs. But, more importantly, he talked about the systems he’s put in place around him to ensure that he remembers that weakness and doesn’t keep making the same mistake.
I found that fascinating because, in a roundabout way, he’s actually turned that weakness into a strength. When someone understands where they need help and puts a system in place to mitigate the problem, the system can manifest itself in a way that’s actually very positive.
Someone who rushes through things may put speedbumps in place to slow themselves down, for example, and by doing so, becomes much more conscientious than the average person.
But none of that matters if you don’t have the personal integrity to see your abilities clearly and figure out where your weaknesses lie. If you delude yourself, it becomes a tax on everything you want to accomplish.”
Read more here.
Heidi Zaks: When times get tough, you have to put your head down and execute.
“In the summer of 2012, my husband Dave and I co-founded our startup, ThirdLove. But while we were preparing to make the entrepreneurial leap, we were also training to do an Ironman in upstate New York.
One month before the race, I injured my piriformis and had to cut back on training.
I went to see a physical therapist, and together we created a plan for how I would finish the Ironman. I stopped running for the entire month beforehand and focused on staying fit by swimming and biking. I did stretches and rested my injured muscle as much as possible to give myself time to heal.
But when my leg began acting up during the race—with 60 miles to bike and an entire marathon left to run—there was nothing to do but endure. It wasn’t easy to finish. At times during the marathon, I had to walk. But I had trained so hard for so long, and I knew I had to execute. Not finishing was not an option.
Everyone chasing ambitious dreams encounters adversity. Unforeseen problems and issues always arise. When that happens, you need to have the mental fortitude to stay focused on what’s driving you to succeed. You have to prove to yourself that you’re mentally tough enough to push forward and execute in the face of major challenges.”
Read more here.