I first came across Stephen Covey in an interview he had with marketing genius Jay Abraham. I immediately liked what I heard and decided to find other work by Stephen Covey. It didn’t take me long to discover his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People“. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? (<– amusingly rhetorical question)
In it, Stephen Covey talks about the concept of Wildly Important Goals, also known as WIGs. Essentially they refer to your goals that are so important that they rise above all the rest. The ones that must be achieved, or nothing else you achieve really matters.
To illustrate this point, allow me to reference Tim Ferris’s quote about the difference between being effective vs. efficient:
“Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals. Efficiency is performing a given task (whether important or not) in the most economical manner possible. Being efficient without regard to effectiveness is the default mode of the universe.”
Turns out I’m a bit of an efficiency nut, and I used to fall into the trap of getting a lot of work done, only to realize at the end of the day that I didn’t even touch the big project that I needed to get to. Email was notorious for sucking me in to unimportant minutia. More on how I tamed the email beast in a later post.
Instead of being proactive, making a game plan for the day, and accomplishing our goals, the vast majority of us (my old self included) would assume a very reactive role. “Ah, an email just came in! I need to stop what I’m doing and answer it!” Do you though? Really?
So anyway, Stephen Covey hit the nail on the big ‘ol head with this. He talked about creating WIGs for the year, the quarter, the month, and then narrowing it down to that upcoming week. Part of the genius here is starting with the big picture.
Bassam Tarazi introduced it to me as the Big Hairy Audacious Goal. You know, the one that gives us butterflies, and we would uncork the champagne we’ve been saving for the past 3 years if we finally got it done.
Yeah, that one.
So start from the big picture, and then reverse engineer it to determine what actions I need to take this week in order to get there.
It’s funny, but I didn’t realize how long I had been doing this until I recently showed it to a friend.
Here is a look back to my first WIGs (10/19/11)
- Goals for the YEAR
- Earn $1 million in gross income by Jan 1st, 2013
- Hire 2-5 employees for Shir Consulting
- Goals for the QUARTER
- Get first 3 paying clients for Shir Consulting
- Earn $12,000 net per month by Jan 1st, 2012
- Goals for the MONTH
- Pitch Shir Consulting to at least 10 prospects
- Goals for the WEEK
- Create a preliminary portfolio of previous work
- Create an ideal client profile
- Brainstorm at least 5 completely different sources of new prospects
- Create 2-3 versions of a sales pitch
- Set up a system for Learning DAILY!
- Surround yourself with mentors & like-minded
Sure, I didn’t quite reach my ambitious financial targets. And you know what, that’s OK.
Because this much I know for sure: I wouldn’t have made nearly as much progress had I not had these goals. After all, how can we ever reach our final destination if we have no idea where we are going?
How I stay on track with my WIGs
It should come as no surprise that I believe in the power of affirmations, and as a result I have recited my WIGs out loud daily since I began almost 2 years ago.
I usually say them at my desk right before I start working. It’s a nice way to set the tone for the rest of the day. I know where I’m going long term, and I know exactly how I’m going to get there by choosing to work on the most important things first.
I’ve had a lot of time to experiment with this, and I have found that when I accomplish my WIGs early in the day or early in the week, I am not only more productive, but I am also dramatically happier. I feel so far ahead of the game, that everything else I do after that is a pure bonus.
I also schedule a weekly time to change the WIGs, always leaving a historical record of what my WIGs were each week. Most times the long term goals stay the same from week to week, but occasionally I’ll come up with something new.
Tune in next week when I discuss the wildly enjoyable topic of WIG rewards, inspired by Tony Robbins.
Lastly, I leave you with my WIGs as of today
- 10 YEAR – 12/31/22 (Age 36)
- Net worth of $50 Million
- Be in a committed relationship with someone who challenges & inspires me every single day, while keeping me on my toes
- Enrich the quality of life for millions of people in the field of personal development
- Travel the world to give talks and teach millions of people
- Create a school to help people achieve excellence
- 5 YEAR – 12/31/17 (Age 31)
- Net worth of $20 Million
- Own two condos in NYC (bar, dance floor, recording studio, breathtaking views)
- Purchase homes for my mom, dad, and brother
- Help millions of people become more productive with technology
- Surround myself with a team of expert coaches in every area of life
- 2 YEAR – 12/31/15 (Age 29)
- Net worth of $500,000
- Earn $45,000 net per month from Excel products
- Reach 5,000 subscribers for ExcelShir blog
- Reach 500 VIP Do-Gooders for Excel it Forward
- YEAR – 12/31/14 (Age 28)
- Net worth of $100,000
- Earn $12,000 net per month from Excel products
- Convert all former Skillshare classes into online classes
- Reach 1,000 subscribers for ExcelShir Blog
- Reach 100 VIP Do-Gooders for Excel it Forward
- QUARTER – 12/31/13
- Publish Excel Mastery Course parts 2 & 3
- Set up Excel it Forward blog & measurement back end system
- MONTH – 9/30/13
- Edit and publish Excel Mastery Course Part 1 conclusion lectures
- Submit [client name] Dashboard v01 no later than 9/25/13
- WEEK – 9/14/13
- Create flexible hand ranking system for Beyond Tells project
- Create final notes & scripts for Excel Mastery Course Part 1 conclusion lectures
- Spend 5 hours on [client name] dashboard project
- Publish ExcelShir blog post
How about you? What are you going to achieve in 5 years? And how specifically are you going to get there?
I got here by searching for ‘wildly important goals’ and how they can relate to information technology. Now that it’s 2017 did you reach your goal?
So I didn’t quite hit my goals for 2017, but I have made a lot of progress! Also the mere act of writing down goals has been tremendously helpful in keeping me focused and on task. I’m curious, what else have you found in your research?