Time is precious. Whether it’s for work or personal reasons most of us have a lot going on in our lives, I know I do. How often do you stop to think about where your time goes? Are you focusing your time on achieving the right goals or just filling your time with a never-ending pile of tasks? Related: Reach Your Career Goals By Building Personal Leadership Skills We can be our own worst enemy because it’s very easy to convince ourselves that being busy means being effective. Unfortunately it’s not the case. Not all effort is equal – you may be familiar with the Pareto Principle which states that 20% of your effort produces 80% of the results. Some of the problem stems from the fact we all like the quick fix of satisfaction we get from crossing something off our to-do list. That means we let our time get eaten up as we complete the easier things that give a sense of success – but fail to achieve anything really meaningful. And of course the goal of ‘getting everything done’ is simply impossible because there will never be an end point. So give up on getting it all done and instead start focusing on doing what matters most. You need to identify and focus on the activities that are priorities and deliver the highest returns on your effort and get rid of those that don’t.
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I have the honor of working with many high-performing and high-potential individuals who are always striving to reach the next level in their careers. What is quite common among these people (and most high achievers) is they are typically very forward-looking and assess their current career success based on how far away they are from their "next level" or that next goal. I have heard this described as the "elusive carrot" syndrome and I think it is a great depiction of what is going on. As that carrot (which represents what we are trying to achieve) is dangling out in front of us, it always seems one step ahead of us and just out of our reach. As long as we assess our progress against that elusive carrot, it can feel like we are never getting anywhere. But, if we take a look behind us, the picture is quite different. I recently did this with a client who is striving to reach a higher level position inside his company. He has not yet gotten there so feels like he is not making progress in his career goals. Yet, when he looked back six months, he realized he had finished his master's degree, hired six new people on his team, successfully implemented several new programs across his company as well as completed a senior leadership development program inside his company. This not only gave him exposure to the CEO and executive team, but it also allowed him to present to the company board. All of these things were clear indicators of his progress toward his goal of reaching that higher role. However, by only looking ahead at the "elusive carrot," he was unable to see just how far he'd come and all the successes he had achieved. I am all for being forward-thinking and focusing on achieving goals. In fact, I'd much rather do that than look behind me; however, every so often, it is really important to take a look back six months or one year to see how far you've come. It might even re position your perspective on that "elusive carrot" you are striving to reach.