Identifying and Prioritizing Goals

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Prioritize your goals

Prioritizing your goals means ranking them in importance. You can do this in two ways:

  • Identify critical and enabling goals. List all your on-the-job goals for the year. Which are critical? Which are enabling? Which are merely nice-to-have? Write down the reasons you've defined each goal as you did. Then rank the goals in order of priority.
  • Distinguish between urgent and crucial tasks. Urgent tasks demand immediate attention. But every urgent matter does not necessarily support a critical goal.
  • For example, suppose you're overseeing a big project that must be completed on time and within budget this year. Your boss wants you to participate in an all-day seminar on employee development tomorrow, but you had planned to meet with your project team to discuss the project plan. The seminar demands your immediate attention—but it doesn't directly support your critical goals. Thus, while it's urgent (you have to make time for it immediately), it is not necessarily crucial.

    Urgent tasks tend to consume your immediate attention, crowding out time and resources better allocated to critical goals. This problem typically occurs when critical goals are long-term because there's no need (or possibility) to achieve them immediately.

    What urgent tasks are you facing this week? Make a list. Which tasks support your critical and/or enabling goals? Those that do are the tasks that you should focus on first and foremost.

    Discipline yourself to differentiate between urgent tasks that support critical and enabling goals and those that don't. Once you recognize the difference, you'll know best how to prioritize your work and allocate your time.

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