Make Deadlines for Your Dreams

Take time each day to focus on goal achievement By ken blanchard

Ken Blanchard is chief spiritual officer of The Ken Blanchard Cos. and co-author of “Collaboration Begins with You: Be a Silo Buster.”
He can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.


he busiest people tend to be the ones who have the most trouble accomplishing goals and sticking with New Year’s resolutions. The problem is that these people often go through the motions of day-to-day busy work instead of focusing on the important things first.

You may have heard the theory that we all have two selves: the external, task-oriented self that focuses on getting the job done and the internal, thoughtful and reflective self that considers things before acting.

Our task-oriented self is the first to wake up in the morning, of course, and is focused only on task achievement. We read email while we eat breakfast, then head to the office and start attacking our to-do list in order to get everything checked off before we go home. It’s easy to get so caught up in doing urgent but unimportant tasks that we don’t have time to think about new goals we have set.

So how do we start focusing less on task achievement and more on goal achievement? I have a suggestion. Instead of jumping out of bed and right into task achievement, enter your day slowly and thoughtfully.

Instead of jumping out of bed and right into task achievement, enter your day slowly and thoughtfully.

Take 20 or 30 minutes to think through what you need to accomplish for the day. Read your New Year’s resolutions during this time and think about how you might fit them into your day. Use this time to plan your day so that you can accomplish your tasks and work on your goals and resolutions.

Then each night before you go to bed, jot down a few notes about your day in a journal or reflect on your day for a few minutes. What did you do that was consistent with your goals and resolutions and what got in the way? Soon you’ll be able to spot patterns — both positive and negative — so you can make changes to get your focus back on goal achievement.

You might be thinking, “I don’t have time to spend 20 minutes in the morning to plan and more time at night to reflect.” But taking that small amount of time will set you up for success in achieving your New Year’s resolutions as well as your other goals.

My wife, Margie, has often said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” As you think of your New Year’s resolutions go ahead and dream that you’ve achieved those goals. When you send the energy out to dream sometimes people show up in your life to help you achieve it. That’s what happened when Spencer Johnson and I wrote “The One Minute Manager.”

On a Sunday in May, 1982, Spencer and I met at a beachfront park near San Diego. Our book was set to come out that September. We had brought along The New York Times book review section and a bottle of champagne and we discussed our goals and vision for the book. We set a goal to sell 500,000 copies — no business book had ever sold that many — and we dreamed that it would be on The New York Times best-seller list for six months. We celebrated and clinked our glasses together as we were sitting there. It was a fun and memorable time.

The very next day on a plane bound for Chicago, I introduced myself to the man sitting next to me in first class. I asked what he did for work and he told me he was a regional sales manager for B. Dalton Bookseller. I said, “You sell books?” and he said, “Sure, we have 750 stores.”

I told him about “The One Minute Manager” and the goals Spencer and I had set. During our conversation, I laid out a strategy to get to the business and economic buyers of B. Dalton, Waldenbooks and other major bookstores. Toward the end of our flight I asked, “You weren’t supposed to be sitting here, were you?”

He said, “How did you know that? They goofed up my ticket and at the last minute I was upgraded to first class.” I said, “You had no choice. I sucked you into this seat with the energy from our dreams and vision for our book!”

So dream big in 2018. Enter your day with a plan and a focus on achieving your goals and resolutions. And tell others about your dreams. You never know who might be able to help make them happen.