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The Seven Rules of Balancing Mini-Goals and Long-Term Plans

Balance is an idea that is sought after by many. Although it seems like many conversations hover around work/life balance, that’s not the only aspect of it, balance within work is just as important. Here are 7 rules for balancing mini-goals and long-term plans.

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Rules

  • Dreams become Possible -  when you write them down as a clear main goal

  • Dreams become Reality - when you have a plan of Mini-Goals to help you hit your main goals

  • Mini-goals must help build out the why, what, and how of your goals.

  • Planning how you reach your goal is just as important as reaching them.

  • Long-term strategy tells you where to play, the short-term strategy tells you how to win. This is requires balancing.

  • Mastering this balancing act is an art and both should have a mechanism in place for input of constant feedback from tests and insights.

  • Learn to recognize your Flowstate, being in the zone, helps you to control how your goal is achieved in a way that is healthy and optimized for balance.

 

Big-Dreams Become Reality When You Set Them as a Goal

This article is for emerging leaders with the intention of providing some development tips to support your success. Let’s imagine for a second you have a big dream and set the concrete goal of being a top executive at a Fortune 100 company that positively impacts the lives of its clients.

These tips have not only supported me in professional life, they have also supported me in my personal life. In the second-half of 2017 I set the goal to run the half-marathon, having never run further than five blocks as an adult.

 

Mini-Goals Deliver Big Dreams

Aside from the major career goals created, it would behoove emerging leaders to also have mini-goals. Lets add the following assumptions to the example above: you have a general blueprint of how to achieve your goal, you know the types of industries and leaders you want to work for and with, and you're willing to put in the work. Some mini-goals you might have could be centered around the why, what, and how of being a top executive. Below is a small set of sample questions that could help you establish your mini-goals across the duration of your career. How you answer these questions really should help to inform how you lead and how you show up everyday. Without these mini-goals to act as guidance, you can fall prey to some of the typical traps of new leaders and management teams: negative competition, bickering, sabotage, poor results, high turnover, and a demoralized team

 

  • What kind of leader do you want to be? A leader that leads with fear or with empathy. Servant-Leader, Laissez-Faire, Autocratic, Participative, Transactional, Transformational, there are many leadership styles to choose from. It’s ideal that you know what kind of a leader you want to be. This will help shape your overall strategy on attaining your specific leadership goals.

  • What kind of teammate or peer do you want to be? Do you want to be that teammate that is so competitive to impress the CEO or any other member(s) of the C-Suite or the board that you’ll do anything including undermine your peers? Hopefully you answered no. This is important to decide at the onset of your career and communicate to your peers. Setting and communicating your intention early on about your peer-style is key.

  • What are your core values? Are they aligned with that of the company or your peers? How will you negotiate facing the compromise of your core values? What will you stand for? What will you allow? Sticky situations will inevitably be placed in front of you for your input or execution. That moment shouldn't be the first time that you ponder your moral compass.

  • How do you want everyone to know and think of you? Regardless of the size of the company your reputation will precede you and its crafting is completely within your control.

 

For the longest time I was never into running. Having tried it in PE class in high school I was not drawn to it like others were. In contrast, walking, hiking, and cycling were and still are my things. I always knew the day would come where I would “have to” face running. That day came when a close friend asked me to run the Popular Brooklyn Half-Marathon. After begrudgingly agreeing, I had a simple main goal, to finish the half-marathon. In hindsight, I should have also had a clear time goal (mini-goal) and fully committed myself to training consistently. I didn’t start this half considering myself to be a runner and so I didn’t choose a time goal or mile pace to hit.  Nevertheless, I finished with a time that I’m proud of for my first effort, 2:39.11 -according to my Nike+ Run Club app. However, mini-goals were set, which addressed how I wanted to finish: finish with energy, finish with a smile, and have fun throughout the run.

 

The Rub

Some executives, love to strategize and plan, scrap it all and then start over again. Over the course of my career I’ve experienced the premature deaths of many long-term strategies before they were ever really implemented. Not fun for everyone involved.  The ending of the plan was usually due to actual insights gathered on the impact on the teams and the viability of the strategy.

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Here’s the rub: while the long-term strategy tells you where to play, the short-term strategy tells you how to win. Both should have a mechanism in place for input of constant feedback from tests and insights. Be flexible but stick to your plan.

In leadership this concept is important because it affects one of our most valuable resources, our people. Once you’ve wasted them, their time, their potential, their motivation, their patience, and the cohesion of the team, you’ve activated the revolving door. As a leader, you control this door.

Because I did not consider myself a runner I didn't put much time into researching various techniques, gear, and nutrition plans. I knew enough about running and myself to know that during training all I needed to do was run and follow the basic information I compiled. Training was a constant feedback loop of testing and adjusting. When something worked it was put permanently into my training plan and added into my half strategy. When something didn’t work but had the potential to positively affect my goal it was adjusted and retested. Initially during my training I planned to run 4 times a week...yeah that didn’t happen. It ended up being more like 1-2 times a week. My plan had to adjust to my reality but not so much that I missed my overall goal. I still had to reach that and knew that I would. More importantly, I was still working out enough to collect information on what worked for me versus what didn’t. For example if I was dehydrated I really felt it in my calves. It wasn’t enough to drink water prior to the run, I had to drink it all of the time.

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Finding Flow

Do you know how to get into your zone? That state where things are moving and time is going at the right pace to take in and process information, make necessary adjustments, and keep going. That state where you feel fully energized and focused; where you control the flow. During my training watching my feet progress along the road, listening to music, or running near the water would help me to drop into this zone. Being in flow played a part in reaching the finish line feeling like I could run another 5 miles. The last 3 miles of the half were sheer fun. I sang aloud, danced, and may have even pumped my fist.

There is something to be said about being in the zone, where you can have fun and strike a balance between the demands of today and the innovation of tomorrow. I know balance can be overrated but however you define it, it is necessary to ensure the long term viability of your career, your company, your team, and most importantly you.