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Consistent Steps Toward Your Goals On the bookshelf behind my desk sits a mug that says,“I’m so far behind I think I’m first.”I got this mug as a present during the last tax season. When I feel overwhelmed, this quote makes me smile and pushes me to keep going. One thing I found that works better for me is to set up systems that help me move closer to my goals, inch by inch. Over time, these consistent small steps add up to big achievements.
It’s hard to believe that March is almost over. The first quarter of this year flew by really fast. As I take a look at the list of goals I set for myself for 2018, I realize that I’m already falling behind on certain things. I promised myself I would be more proactive this year, but not everything works out as planned.
Let me give you an example of a systemwe recently implemented. It’s been on our to-do list to publish a monthly newsletter for a long time. Months and years went by with little to no progress on this front. Finally, we decided that we needed a system to publish a newsletter. So, last fall, we signed up with a company that provides a framework for it. The project manager bugs me every month to write an article, the editor corrects my mistakes, and at the end of the process, a newsletter is produced every month. It might not be perfect, but it goes out regularly.
I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem.
To make my goals more organized, I separated them into various categories. For example, my second category is called“Important but Not Urgent.”In this box, I put items such as getting more exercise, spending more time in nature, and reading a great book. All these goals are important but not urgent, because I don’t feel any immediate negative effects if I have to postpone them. When it comes to business and professional goals, I also have an“Important but Not Urgent”list. Writing an article, producing a new podcast episode, and implementing a newmarketing method are all important for growing our business, but these tasks are often left for another day. Like most people, I have good reasons to prioritize semi- urgent items on my list. Daily busywork comes first, and before I know it, the day is over, and the important items are left for tomorrow. I was looking for a solution, and my first thought was to improve my time-management skills. The local bar association hosted a lunch meeting with a time- management specialist. I was excited to attend and learn how to better schedule my day. I did learn a few tips and tricks, but in the end, I was back to taking care of busywork and leaving the important tasks for later. “Schedule your day more efficiently,”doesn’t seem to be a good enough solution for me, so I kept searching for a better answer.
Designing simple systems is much more fun and more effective than simply setting goals and managing time.
About two months ago, we visited one of our clients in Canada. This attorney has a growing law firm, and he is in the process of opening a second business. Running two businesses is not an easy task, so he wanted our assistance coming up with a plan that will help him succeed. I know this person reads a lot of business and financial management books, so what new information can I offer him?What secret do I know that nobody else has written about before? Well, the secret is not hidden among some obscure pieces of information. It is in setting the right goals and then creating systems and procedures to achieve those goals. After consulting with the bookkeeper and the office manager, we sat down with the managing partner and came up with a few daily and weekly procedures that will help him stay on top of things while he’s out of the office. Making drastic changes might be necessary at times; but more often, small and consistent steps will take you closer to your goals. Think about the systems you need to put in place, draft a few simple procedures you can follow daily, and see how far it takes you over time.
–Laszlo Szilagyi, CPA
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