Long term goals are hard for humans

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The Monday MOVE Idea

Each Monday until the launch of my upcoming book MOVE, I’ll be sharing an important idea from the book. This week: Long Term Goals are Hard for Humans

Think of your strategy like your New Years resolution

Oh, wait…that’s the problem!

The reason we break so many New Years resolutions is that as humans, we are easily excited about the end result, but the long and steady process to get there – not so much. The same thing happens with our business strategies.

We can all more easily deal with important things that take a short time.

But keeping progress going on an initiative or transformation that spans months or years is really hard for any human (let alone a whole organization full of them) because you can’t see or deal with the whole thing right now.

Build a timeline by working backwards

Think about a new way to start your new initiative (or your new year’s resolution). Instead of progressing it from the beginning, work backwards from the end — and define what you need to do at each point along the way.

Human nature: When you get a task that will take a year, on any Monday early in the process, you kind of still have a year. If you don’t start it for a month, you still have most of the year.

The common problem is that without this timeline process, people will be nodding their heads and thinking,

“Yeah, that’s important, but we have a year to get it done, so I don’t need to worry about it for a while.”

But this thinking can repeat over and over again. Suddenly you are 10 months in and still have 12 months of work left to do!

Create clarity, motivation and urgency

But if instead you define the whole timeline up front by working backwards from the end goal, people can’t simply just go back to work and feel like they have a year to make it come true.

With a clear and concrete timeline in place, instead of the team thinking they have plenty of time on a 12 month goal, they realize that they are already late on a 1 month goal!

When you create a timeline of specific concrete, see-able checkpoints, strategic progress, and a sense of urgency are ensured because you have clearly mapped it all out and put it on a timeline.


I’m really excited to share the important ideas, and all the tools I put in my upcoming book MOVE to help you get your team (at any level in the organization) to execute your strategy more decisively.

MOVE will be available in February, but you can download a free preview now or pre-order your copy now.
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About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her books RISE and MOVE.

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