Start with the end in mind – Are you pushing rocks uphill?
Pushing Rocks uphill
I saw a post earlier this week from one of my contacts in recruitment, who said that being in recruitment at the moment is like pushing rocks uphill. I felt the pain because last year I wrote a blog about the very subject.
In Greek mythology, a guy named Sisyphus was cursed to push a huge boulder up a hill; only for it to roll back down once he neared the top.
The gods thought, with good reason, that there was nothing more dreadful than futile labour.
Well, that is what many of us do in life.
We wake up, work hard doing things that aren’t getting us closer to our goals, sleep, then repeat. But…
Success isn’t defined by how hard you work, it is defined by whether or not you achieve your goals.
And to achieve your goals, you need to have them set in stone before you start pushing.
In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey uses a great analogy when he says – “suppose you want to arrive at a specific location in Chicago, but you’re given a map of Detroit, you wouldn’t get to that location in Chicago no matter how hard you tried.
You could try harder, be more diligent, or double your speed, but your efforts would only succeed in getting you to the wrong place faster.”
Here are 4 things you can do to avoid pushing rocks uphill:
1. Begin with the end in mind
Supposing Sisyphus had thought of his end goal, which is to get the boulder up the hill…
Would he have done it the way that he did, or would he have sought better alternatives? Would he have found additional tools or resources to help him?
Beginning with the end in mind helps you to work with purpose. If you lack a clear sense of direction, you won’t make it to the right place.
It helps you to foresee any possible objections and plan on how to deal with them.
When you begin with the end in mind, you save time, money, and resources which would otherwise be wasted.
All things are created twice. First, mentally, and second, physically. So as you’re making plans and goals, you need to think of the first creation and all it entails.
And that’s where planning comes into play…
Once you have visualised your end goal, you need to ask yourself what needs to be done in order to get there.
Remember the SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
Could you say that Sisyphus’ goals were any of this?
Your goals should comprise of ALL of these characteristics for you to succeed.
Suppose, for example, you want to grow the number of followers on your social media platforms. Leaving it at that is not SMART.
A SMART goal would look like this:
My goal is to grow my social media platforms to 1000 followers on Instagram and Facebook by August 2022. To do this, I will engage with my prospects online and use ads to increase engagement.
You are 100 times more likely to achieve your goals if you follow the SMART method. It helps you to break them down to actionable steps and monitor your progress.
For more on setting SMART goals read here.
A survey done in the UK found that the average person wastes 26 days per year.
As a business owner, you know all too well that time is money.
If you want to avoid pushing rocks uphill, recognise that you need to prioritise your tasks.
When you wake up in the morning and have a long to-do list, write it out in terms of what needs to be done first.
Essentially, this helps you to avoid futile, repetitive, and unrewarding tasks.
Stephen Covey talks about putting tasks in Quadrants and using these to determine what to do next:
- Urgent and important – Do
- Not urgent but important – Plan
- Urgent but not important – Delegate
- Not urgent and not important – Eliminate
4. Choose optimal tasks
Recently, Victoria Wright gave a talk at Networking in… about sleep phenotypes, where we realised that some people just do work better in the morning, or in the evening.
That’s just the way it is.
Knowing this can help you to avoid pushing rocks uphill.
Some people are most adept at communications in the late morning or creative in the evening.
There may also be a time of day when you’re at your most productive.
Identify these times and use them to schedule your daily tasks more effectively.
As a business owner, you’ve probably found yourself pushing rocks uphill in one way or the other. You wake up one day and jump on a new task haphazardly without quite thinking into it. This is dangerous.
It can be a waste of your time and resources. The two things you can do to avoid pushing rocks uphill are:
- Begin with the end in mind
- Prioritise tasks
- Choose optimal tasks
In conclusion, your end goal should determine the things you do to achieve the goals, and not the other way around.
Once you have clarity on your vision, it’s easier to get there.
This week, I would like you to think about this:
- Have you thought about where you are and where you want to get to??
- Have you set a deadline for when you want to get there?
- Have you created an action plan listing all the things you must do to get there?
- Have you got anyone to hold you accountable?
Onwards and Upwards my friend