Lately I’ve been feeling that I am not doing a good job of keeping on top of my big goals. When I was a kid, I sometimes would look straight up into the sky, so I couldn’t see anything on the ground, and try to run. I would get dizzy and fall onto the grass, fascinated that something that seemed so trivial was actually really difficult. And so it seems to be with me and those big goals; with my eyes looking far into the future, I lose my bearings here in the Right Now.
I’ve been thinking that if I had something that forced me to assemble a causal chain of action, expectation, and benefit, I might have a better chance of keeping sight of both my dreams and my current state of being. I’ve made a preliminary design of a new form, tentatively called a Dream Context Tracker for tracking progress on a weekly basis. If you’d like an early peek at this work in progress, read onward!
This form is designed as a supplemental sub-project tracker, and does not supplant your existing tracking methodology. Here’s how I think it might work:
- Use fill-in-the-blank statements to define the overarching goal. This is repeated every week, and I anticipate the statement will evolve. The tone is affirming.
Define desire, benefit, tangible results, resulting feelings, and personal status in the statement. These are essential for strategic planning.
Provide a place to doodle ideas and draw maps, with graphics that encourage annotation. The idea is to build a graphic playground, to engage the playful side of the brain too. I figure it might be a good thing.
Provide helpful suggestions on how to start, as the practical means by which you can effect change that move toward your goals. These are specific, weekly tasks to be done at any level.
Provide weekly tracking area in a simplified task tracker / resource tracker view. This allows you to measure effort and allocate time in the future.
p> The overall effect I am going for is to have a single piece of paper that helps me remember what my goal is without having to reconstruct the game plan every time. In other words, it provides continuity and context for my projects; just looking at the sheet should bring me back to where I last left off. Also, the very act of focusing to write something down things tends to make me more mindful about executing them, which is why I like to draw my Emergent Task Planner form in the morning. Over on 99%, Scott Belsky has observed something similar with super-successful people; their analog rituals helps them with their productivity too. Manipulating your action items in physical form is oddly therapeutic. The effort we invest in doing something tends to increase it’s value in our minds, so perhaps that is part of the mojo that’s at work here.
A second effect I hope will occur is batch thinking. It is tiring to regenerate a plan from scratch every time you need it, and having all the creative inputs turned way up all the time tends to generate more distractions. What I really want: stop thinking and work. It’s hard for me to stop thinking, so I am hoping if I capture the thinking on a piece of paper I can dumbly follow for the week, that would be great. Over time, the trend data will accumulate over many weeks worth of paper, each focused on delivering a specific result. The weekly review then becomes the act of transcribing what was on the old sheet to the new sheet.
I’m thinking that I’m leaving out an important pre-step, which is the selection of a worthy goal in the first place, but I’ll tackle that when I try using this form for the first time.
This is a very preliminary design, and I haven’t even printed it out yet because I’m out of color printer ink, but I’m providing it now for early feedback. Don’t be afraid to pick a few nits :)
Download the Dream Context Tracker (DCT):
- PCEO-DCT01-DR01.pdf (PDF, 141K)