One of the gifts of being on a path of mastery is that when we reach a goal, we’ve really just found our next starting line. If someone said to you “Okay, I ran 10k once so that means I can run 10k whenever I want,” you’d understandably wonder if the sun had gotten to their head and they needed a banana and a nap.
As an amateur athlete, I’ve crossed a few finish lines and learned the hard truth that just because you’ve done something doesn’t mean that you can automatically do it again. Without training to keep up your baseline, you’ll backslide and find yourself starting from scratch. After a race, a coach would probably tell you to set a bigger goal, to move on from a 10k to a marathon. This “stretch goal” would keep your habits in place and allow you to literally focus on going further.
The process of accomplishing our goals provides us with a mindset and set of habits that we can use to face our next challenge. But, what happens when we find ourselves struggling to maintain what we’ve accomplished?
If we move away from sports and into the professional world where goals are often collaborative, the reality of maintenance gets even trickier. If your team sets a goal to increase event attendance by 30 percent or to add 25 more contacts to your database per month, attaining your goal means literally creating more work to do in the quantity of clients you must serve and keep in contact with.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by keeping up with your successes, it’s time for you to ask some questions:
1. Does this still need to be done?
Sometimes we outgrow our goals. Sometimes our values have changed and other times the situation that we’re in has evolved. Either way, if you suspect that your goal or the habits it takes to maintain it may no longer be serving you, be honest with yourself about whether it is worth your attention. So ask yourself plainly, is it still worth it?
If the answer is “no,” then you have earned the privilege to let this goal go and turn your efforts elsewhere.
If the answer to this question is “yes,” then you can move forward and consider:
2. Does this need to be done by me?
It is humbling and freeing to understand that you do not have be responsible for everything. In fact, the key to your continued success may be your ability to “fire” yourself from positions that you’ve outgrown so you can transition tasks to others. In other words, build out a network of people who can support you. Just as a machinal lever can allow a single person to lift immense weights, so too does leveraging the focused efforts of others enable you to achieve greater and greater goals.
If you’re working in a business environment, leverage can take a few different forms depending upon where you’re at.
If your business can afford long-term leverage, you may find yourself in a situation where it makes sense for you to hire help.
If you’re in a position where you’d like to keep overhead low, or the work required to maintain your success isn’t enough to require a full-time position, you can take on the variable cost of a contract worker.
Leverage is still an option even if you’re evaluating something in your personal or family realm. For example, as much as I enjoy walking my dog and having him snore while I work—sometimes it’s better for the both of us is he spends a day chasing around his furry friends at doggie daycare.
Are there areas in your life or business where you can shift responsibility to others so that you can shift your focus onto your next goal?
3. What system do I have in place to allow me to continue on?
As you continue on your path of growth, it may be easier to find technology or build systems to help you keep on track while freeing up some of your energy.
For example, if one of the goals you used to have was to calculate your net worth each month, you may consider investing in budgeting software such as Mint or You Need a Budget (YNAB) that can compute and track that figure automatically by syncing your accounts.
Systems don’t need to be high-tech in order to be effective. Sometimes capturing a process in a checklist so that a task can be handed off is enough to keep quality high and give you space to grow in a new direction. If you’re looking toward some really big goals in the future, you’ll be grateful for the documentation of the journey, as well.