Want to achieve more?  Start at the end…

By Karen Amos

September.  Putting aside the nagging feeling I’ve blinked and missed the last 6 months, I’m starting September with a new energy.  There’s something about this time of year that smells of new starts and exciting possibilities, no doubt from early conditioning of starting back at school for a new term, with new shoes and fresh unwritten exercise books…

Whatever the reason, it’s a great time of year to utilise all that new-found motivation.  The problem is, it’s so easy to lose it again amongst all the ‘chores’ that need doing – both at work and personally.  I found myself in such a place this week, feeling overwhelmed with the amount of tasks, appointments and activities in front of me.  The issue with overwhelm is that it can stop you in your tracks, or at best leave you highly ineffectual, casting around aimlessly, or immobilised by indecision.

Building Better Habits…

Then I remembered good old Stephen Covey – You know, the ‘7 Habits’ guy!  As a coach, one of my favourite habits is ‘Begin with the End in Mind’.  The premise is that we first need to create a mental blueprint of what we want to achieve before we physically take action. ¹

Coaching follows the same principle.  If you don’t know your destination, how will you know the right actions to take?  This is why so many people are unproductive in their work, as they focus on tasks and activity, rather than outcomes.  That’s the reason John Whitmore started the coaching GROW Model with G’ for ‘Goal.  We need to first work out where we want to go, then work out how we’re going to do it.²

Start Your Day As You Mean To Go On…

One great habit to get into, is to spend the first 10-15 minutes of your day, planning.  That means planning out your day, and also how this fits to your week and the medium to longer term.  It’s easy to say you can’t afford the time, but I’d argue that you can’t afford not to.

To start the day with no clear plan, means you’re trusting to luck that you’re working on the right things, with no clear measure of whether you’ve been successful or not.   You’ll inevitably end up bowing to external pressures and losing track.  Essentially, you need to train yourself to consistently think strategically about all aspects of your work and business.  Strategy shouldn’t be something we visit now and again when we’ve time – it should be the road map with live and work by.

Here are some helpful coaching questions to get you started:

  • What do I actually need to achieve here?
  • What’s my outcome for today?
  • How will I know when I have achieved this?
  • Is this the most important thing I should be working on?
  • What’s a reasonable timescale to achieve this?
  • Who can help me with this?
  • What other resources will I need?
  • What are my first steps?

So remember, if you really want to make an impact – begin at the end!

  1. Covey S.R., (2020). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Simon & Schuster. UK
  2. Whitmore, J,.(2007). Coaching For Performance – GROWing People, Performance & Purpose. 3rd Edition. Nicholas Brealey. London.

If you’d like to create more space and focus in your working life, book in for a FREE Discovery Coaching session.  Click HERE to find out more.

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Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports under-pressure business owners and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships.