Back to Goals…The 66 Day Challenge

This year for work, I had to write my own goals and had to come up with professional as well as personal goals, (as in personal development type goals).

As usual, using my System 1 lazy brain (reference to “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman), I picked a couple low hanging fruit goals. These are things I was working on already, or have years of experience, so doing them wasn’t a huge challenge.

  1. Obtain PMI-PBA Professional Business Analysis certificate. Status: done- Jan. 2018
  2. Do a presentation on Requirement Elicitation Techniques. Status: done-April 2018

So, I am moving along nicely, and it is now May 2018 and time to work on a more challenging goal.

  1. Read “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and write about how to apply the book’s principles in your own life. Status: I read the book. Now I am actively working on applying some of the principles in my life.

The underlying premise of this “self-help” or “productivity boosting” book is to educate the reader into focusing on “one thing.” There are many tips and quotes to help the reader understand the importance of “focus.” However, it is important to note that our lives are complex and complicated, and we often don’t have the luxury to really focusing only on “One” thing in our daily lives. Nevertheless, the intent of the book is to drive the reader to realize that there are a lot of things calling for our attention that are counterproductive and do not help when we want to accomplish a goal or task. Also, at any given time in your daily life, you really can’t “multi-task” when performing a strategic goal. You must dedicate time to it and put non-essential tasks to the wayside.

There was an interesting paradigm shift in the book discussed on turning a “to-do” list into a “success” list. “A success list – a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results.” In the book, “to-do” lists are considered too long and tend just make a person “busy” all day long without much thought to strategic or long-term goals. The “to-do” list lacks priority as well, while the “success” list is the “should do” items and those that are “could do” items are left behind.

The book goes on to discuss “The Lies” (or myths) that have been told to us in previous self-management books or theories such as:

  1. Everything Matters Equally
  2. Multitasking
  3. A Disciplined Life
  4. Willpower is Always on Will-Call
  5. A Balanced Life
  6. Big is Bad – I love the quote in this chapter title: “We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.” – Robert Brault

So, after reading about the lies, or rather misconceptions, I was eager to read about the “Truth”. It appeared to be simple. It starts with developing “successful habits” to reach your goals. It isn’t rocket science. Anyone who has lived to my age hopefully has gained experience in focusing on a goal, like obtaining a college degree, or skilled trade certificate. However, the book provided some new tips and tricks to use in planning your day to focus on “The One Thing” that you want to accomplish.

The focusing question: What’s the ONE THING I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

To apply the book in my personal life I chose “ONE” tool suggested in the book to use and test it in my real life. I’m focusing on is the 66 Day Challenge to build a new healthy habit and routine of waking up early. The 66 Day Challenge calendar is found at https://www.the1thing.com/resources/66-day-calendar.

My 66 Day Challenge

Focus Area if my life: Physical Health

Habit: Get out of bed by 6am every day (yes, even on weekends) – and this will be tracked by using my Apple Watch “stand” feature. Plus, exercise at minimum of 10 minutes a day. (I chose 10 minutes as a low threshold in case I wasn’t feeling well – 66 days is a long time).

5/8/2018 Status: Started on 5/1/2018 so today is Day 8 of 66. I have been able to wake up before 6am and work-out every day so far. I try to work out before work during the week. I find that if I get my work-out done early, I’m less likely to procrastinate. My ultimate goal is to lose weight and stay toned. Making a habit of getting up early allows me to be more productive and focused. I had been just lying in bed reading on my iPad and iPhone before this 66-day challenge, and now I’m trying to focus on my physical health first thing in the morning and then reading later in the day.

5/13/2018 Status: I joined a Pilates class to help with core strengthening. (Update:  stop going to pilates as I was not enjoying it at all.  I prefer to exercise alone and not in groups).

66DayChallenge_complete7/28/2018 Final update:  I endured this 66 Day Challenge as a test for myself and to see if I could eventually condition myself to rise at 6am.

The challenge ended on 7/5/2018 and after that day I “slept in.” (But I admit that I wake up at 5am to take my thyroid meds and fall right back to sleep till my husband brings me coffee in the morning. I’m a creature of habit, perhaps bad habit.)

Out of the 66 Days, I believe that I was sick for 2 and on the last day, 7/5 I had a colonoscopy scheduled so all bets were off on doing any type of exercise.  Although after the colonoscopy, I did clean my house, since it was a disaster from de-construction taking place.  (Major house remodel underway).

My experiment with this exercise was to test myself and the theory of the “One thing”.  At the end of this, I cannot say I ever truly focused on One Thing.  My day is full of multi-tasking, and priorities are always shifted based on what is happening on that day.  For instance, the two days that I was sick, my focus shifted on letting myself rest and letting go of the challenge.   In fact, at my work, I never have one project, but always many, although on any given day, one will scream for my attention louder than the others. I have always had to adapt to changing priorities in all facets of my life and learn patience when the goal is so close in sight but obstacles surface.

The One thing that I can take away from this journey is a new tool for my time management tool box.

I still think The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a better strategy for me personally. Although, I never commit to just “one thing”.