Focus On This Podcast

87. Ask the Hosts: Answers to Your Biggest Questions on Goal Achievement

Overview

You have the Full Focus Planner and are already starting to see some progress toward your goals. But you keep running into situations you’re not sure how to handle. What do you do when you miss a goal? How do you stay on track when you’re in a season where life is out of balance? Where can you get advice on how to tackle all this? 

In this episode, Courtney, Verbs, and Blake answer ten questions from the Focus on This community on how to practically maximize the Full Focus system. They’ll share tips they personally employ and show you how to make the system work for you so you can move forward with confidence to achieve your goals.

In this episode, you’ll discover—

  • 5 steps for keeping your goals relevant quarter to quarter
  • How to reset in the middle of an off day
  • Which pages of the Full Focus Planner to zero in on to “go big”
  • Best practices to build awareness of life’s open loops for list sweeps
  • How to use the Full Focus system away from work on the weekend 

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Related Episodes

Episode Transcript

Verbs: Welcome to another episode of Focus on This, the most productive podcast on the Internet, so you can banish distractions, get the right stuff done, and finally start loving Mondays. I’m Verbs, here with Courtney Baker and Blake Stratton.

Blake: What’s up, Verbs?

Verbs: Happy Monday to you. What’s up, Blake? How are you?

Blake: I’m excellent. I’m bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this Monday morning. Someone driving in their car is like, “Blake, slow down. I haven’t even opened my coffee, bro.” But I’m here.

Verbs: “Turn it down, buddy. Turn it down.”

Blake: I am your audio caffeine this morning, ladies and gentlemen. I have some energy, and we have a lot of goodness upcoming in this episode. I’m talking Verbs break dancing-level excitement.

Courtney: Yeah! Verbs, you have to give everybody an update. How is the break dancing going?

Verbs: The break dance workouts are getting increasingly more difficult by the day. It started off all fun and games, beats and steps.

Blake: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Verbs, why are you telling us when you could be showing us how it’s going?

Courtney: So true.

Blake: I mean, it’s terrible podcasting, but it would be great for me.

Verbs: Due to the amount of muscle soreness, it’s taking everything I have right now just to hold myself up on this desk with these arms. My triceps and biceps are pretty much water at this point.

Courtney: What I think we should do, Blake, is maybe you and I can get whatever system Verbs is using and try to amp up our skills. Next Michael Hyatt & Company live event we could break it out, all three of us.

Verbs: Nothing would bring me greater joy than to see you all a part of this exercise workout.

Courtney: Start out every live event.

Blake: I think we’ll need to get some liability insurance for Michael Hyatt & Company before I attempt what Verbs has been doing. I’ve watched the videos.

Verbs: We’ll start off small, man. You can definitely do it. You play basketball. Right? You’ve been known to grace the courts.

Blake: Oh yeah. My nickname on the court… They always call me “Pass.” I’m not sure why it works, but every time I touch the ball, it’s like, “What’s up? Yeah, that’s me.”

Verbs: That is hilarious.

Courtney: That’s funny.

Verbs: Is that what was on the back of your jersey?

Blake: Yeah. They scratched out “Stratton.”

Courtney: Well, we have a really exciting episode today. It’s going to be a little different today. Right, Verbs?

Verbs: It is. Today’s episode is going to be slightly different. We have a few questions we will be answering from you, the listener. This month, in May, we’ll be answering the most common questions we get. Today we’re going to start by answering as many questions as we can directly from our community. So, if you guys are ready, I say we get into it. How about it?

Our first question comes from Shawna. She asked, “What if you don’t accomplish a quarterly goal? Do you move it to the next quarter? Do you revise it? If you decide to move it to the next quarter, do you move some other goals so there aren’t too many in that quarter?” This is a pretty common question or something along these same lines. Courtney, how would you answer this?

Courtney: We’ve actually done a lot of teaching on this. Go back to Episode 54: How to Reevaluate Your Goals and Make Them Exciting Again. Go listen to that episode. We also talked about this a lot during the pandemic, because there were a lot of quarterly goals we all missed, because all of our circumstances changed. I think it depends. You know, some of your follow-up questions on, “Do you move it to the next quarter? Do you revise it?” I think you need to go through the process of what you need to do.

Again, that episode, we cover the five Rs, which are you rejoice… Maybe you made some gain that you can say, “All right. I didn’t hit the goal, but I made some gain, and I’m going to celebrate that.” You can recommit to it, like what she talked about. You could move it to the next quarter. You could revise it, maybe make it more up to date to your circumstances, or maybe there’s something you need to change about it that would make you a little more excited. You can remove it. That has happened… All of us have removed goals before.

Verbs: Absolutely.

Courtney: There’s no shame in that. Then the last one is you can replace it. Again, last year, I had several goals I just had to flat-out replace because they no longer were relevant. So, that’s a great episode for you to go check out. Again, that’s Episode 54.

Blake: Can I add one quick thing to that?

Courtney: Yeah.

Verbs: Yes. Please do.

Blake: If you don’t accomplish a quarterly goal, that is not necessarily a bad sign. If you went your whole year and accomplished all of your goals on time, guess what. You completely underestimated yourself. Setting a goal and missing it is part of the game, because you’re supposed to set goals that are risky. That’s a good thing. One of the worst things you can learn from missing a quarterly goal is “I stink at goals” or “I’m a failure” or “I’m not productive enough” or “I won’t be able to have the success I really want.”

That’s just sort of a quick scuba on that question, because I think there is an emotional toll. Do an After-Action Review on what happened, why you missed it, but make sure, like Courtney said, to celebrate the progress you did make and recognize that that’s part of the game. It’s not about hitting every goal; it’s about growing yourself and reaching your potential.

Courtney: Let’s touch on the flip side of that. I think we got a question from Julie along these lines. How do you know if it’s in the delusional zone? You’re saying it needs to be risky, but how do you know when you’ve gone too far?

Blake: This is just my personal answer. To reference the SMARTER framework, as it sounds like Julie knows (and I just referenced the R in that framework, which stands for risky), I would go to the E in the framework. My personal opinion is that if you have a big enough E…meaning, if it’s exciting enough to you…then it’s not delusional. You simply got the timeline wrong, which could be normal.

Verbs: Break that down a little bit.

Blake: Okay. So, your goal needs to be exciting to you. When you imagine yourself having completed the goal, it should feel blissful. It should feel deeply, deeply satisfying. It should feel like relief. It should feel exciting, like freedom. That’s what your goal needs to be. So, if you’re worried your goal is delusional because you’ve missed it…

In my opinion, it’s delusional if it’s really lofty but you don’t attach it to those feelings when you think about what it’ll be like getting there or if it feels like “I should be doing this because this is what a leader does” or “We should be doing this because this is what a growing company does.” Those goals are the dangerous kind of delusional. The easier kind of delusional is “Oh, I’m deeply passionate about this. I know I’m going to hit it. I was a little aggressive on the timeline, so I’m going to release that a little bit and revise the timeline on it.”

Courtney: I will say, on the flip side of that, you do have to balance that exciting with relevant. We’re just dishing out all the SMARTER framework here. If I got really excited about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail… I could be really passionate, I could be really excited about it, but I have a newborn baby. That’s not happening. So, I think there’s some of that… You have to balance that excitement level with the relevancy. Otherwise, it could be very much delusional.

Another note on this… Janeen added, “What if you just miss a goal by a week or two?” Great news, Jeanine. You hit your goal. I want you to celebrate. We’re not in that game of “I missed by two seconds.” I say that because I fall in that camp sometimes. That is a win. Go out. Celebrate. Get your reward. That’s huge.

Verbs: All right. Next question is from Lisa. She says, “I’m in middle management. What do you do when everyone needs some of your time?” Blake, I know you have some thoughts on this one, as you work with many entrepreneurs and business owners. Have you had this question pop up?

Blake: Well, if you feel like there are too many demands on your time and you can’t keep up, that can be a very draining feeling. So, I’ll first empathize with Lisa and just say that I think, at some point or another in our lives, we all feel those feelings. You’re probably not asking that question if you’re not worried about letting somebody down.

The hard but true part of solving that one comes down to your own clarity on where you bring the highest value to the organization and establishing that clarity with those you work with; first and foremost, those who hired you and you report to. If you can establish clarity on where you bring the highest value and get on the same team of those you’re working for, you can create a filter through which to start saying, “No” or to start filtering out things or responsibilities that do not serve that highest function.

Ultimately, everyone, even myself… I could look at my calendar the last two weeks and go, “Okay. Were there hours in there that were less than high leverage in terms of delivering the results I’m responsible for?” I could find stuff. I think about this all the time. So, Lisa, just recognize you’re on a journey. It starts with creating that filter of where you bring the highest value, and then use that filter to start saying “No” to things that do not really contribute toward that function.

Courtney: I would just add, the key here is communication, setting that up where people know that’s your plan. We all have to have constraints. Actually, Megan Hyatt Miller, the CEO of our company, just recently said to the executive team, “Hey guys, I’m going to step back from this, because I’ve realized my plate is too full right now. I need to relook at what is the highest leverage use of my time.” That’s a good, ongoing exercise at whatever level of management you’re in, but then communicate it in a way that is helpful to everybody and they’re on the same page with you. They’ll actually help you win.

Blake: For those who work under you, like, not just the ones you’re reporting to but those who work under you… If you can frame it in terms of “Hey, here are the things I trust you implicitly with, and there’s going to be a gap where normally you would ask me or want my approval, and I want you to know you are free to make a choice,” pretty soon, the IQ of your team is going to go up magically, because you won’t be there to babysit everything that comes up. “Hey, can I get five minutes? Can I get your eyes on this?” They will grow and develop. So you get kind of a double whammy. You’ll end up with a more productive team, but you’ll get more margin.

Courtney: This is actually one of the reasons we love sabbaticals here at Michael Hyatt & Company. Everybody on staff gets to go on a sabbatical every three years. What’s really interesting, especially when you’re in middle management or even the highest level of our management, is the team around you has to level up while you’re out. It kind of takes you out of the equation. To Blake’s point of their IQ magically gets better, it’s a really great exercise.

Verbs: Eric asks, “What do you do when life is out of balance? For instance, when there is simply more required of you at work or you’re getting a business off the ground. On the flip side, when family time needs to be prioritized and work needs to take a back seat. Having a young family, this feels like a daily challenge.” Courtney, do you have some thoughts on this?

Courtney: This is a great question. We are all about winning at work and succeeding at life. If you haven’t already listened to the episode the three of us did with Michael and Megan about their new book Win at Work and Succeed at Life, I would highly recommend that episode. If you haven’t ordered the book, go order the book right now, because that’s going to be a great resource for you, especially when you’re starting out in a business, getting it off the ground.

Setting up a business in a way that… It’s a game you want to win. You want to play the game. Now is your chance to do that from the beginning rather than trying to retrospectively fix it later. Do it now. So, check out that book. You can get it anywhere books are sold. There are also bonuses and all that good stuff at winandsucceedbook.com.

Verbs: Annie asked this question. She says, “What do you do if you’re just having an off day, like the day after a bad night’s sleep, or even an off week?”

Blake: I’ll just give a quick hack. I have extra time for meditation on those days or meditation that turns into a power nap sometimes. When I have a bad night’s sleep or I’m just feeling off… Recognize that trying to run at 30 percent or 40 percent and spinning your wheels is going to be more taxing and tiring, and you’ll end up with less than if you actually pause and take a break to reset and then reengage.

I’ve had to learn this again and again and again, but when I’m having an off day, I’ll usually just turn everything on “Do not disturb,” set a timer on my phone, just sit at my desk and meditate, close my eyes, just do nothing. Even if it’s just five minutes, a five-minute breathing exercise can do wonders to sort of detach your mind from the crazy and calmly reengage in your day.

Verbs: This next question is an interesting one, and I’m eager to hear you guys’ response on it. Amy says, “Can you give examples of emotional goals besides just ‘Go to counseling’?”

Courtney: This is Blake’s question if I’ve ever heard it. She probably wanted to write in parentheses “Please make Blake answer this question.”

Blake: I think it is hard to set an emotional goal in complete isolation, which is why we tend to think, “Oh, I’ll go to counseling,” because that’s working on my soul, it’s working on all of my feelings. The truth is that when you set a goal, it’s hard to set a goal that just keys on one life domain. Emotional is one of those life domains that’s going to be impacted.

For me, if I want to have an emotional goal… Maybe the outcome of the goal is I want to have a higher baseline of a daily mood. I may not be able to control my moods, or whatever, but maybe one of those things is… I just mentioned meditation in the last example. You could start a meditation practice. That could be a habit goal that is going to have an effect on your emotions, because it has been proven to help your brain process emotions in real time a little more healthily.

Maybe your goal on paper would look like a physical goal. You know, Verbs was like, “Blake, you play basketball. Right?” and I was like, “Man, I haven’t played basketball since the pandemic started.” I notice when I go weeks and weeks and weeks without having fun through physical activity, my emotional baseline goes down. So you could have a goal that’s not physical body, fitness oriented but happens to be hiking, happens to be playing sports, happens to be whatever. Those are all emotional goals because the main why behind them has to do with your baseline emotional state.

Verbs: Aaron, who sounds like he is a planner user, says, “How do I go big using the planner? If I was totally crushing it using the planner, what would that look like?” There she goes.

Courtney: I’m ready for this question.

Blake: Here comes our Enneagram Three after the Enneagram Four question.

Courtney: Yeah. Give me the one that has nothing to do with feelings. Like, doing things… I’ve got you. You’re going big. Here’s your answer. You may think we would say, “It’s using every page of this planner. You’ve got to be using all of the things.” I don’t think that’s true. I think the “go big” is you’ve set your goals for the year, you’re doing a Weekly Preview, you’re doing a Daily Big 3, and a Quarterly Preview. That, to me, is “go big” using the planner. That’s the magic.

Again, there are a lot of tools within this planner that are going to be really helping you, but do you know what they’re helpful at doing? Helping you do those four things, those “go big” things. Sometimes I think there’s a lot of pressure because there are a lot of things in the beginning of the Full Focus Planner. They’re awesome tools, but the “go big” things for me… Those are them.

Verbs: I think it’s important to note also… Again, going big is not just filling out all of the pages in the planner. In this case, going big is you’re going to get the most clarity you need, as you mentioned, that’s going to bleed into everything else you do. That’s the biggest step you can take and actually get the value out of it.

All right. Erik asks, “What are others’ best practices for list sweeps?” This is a good question. “Do you just sweep what you wrote in the planner or sweep through the last week’s emails, as well as collecting all of the tasks?”

Courtney: This is a good one.

Verbs: Blake, I’m tossing this one to you, sir, as a hybrid guy.

Blake: This is probably going to be different for everybody using the planner. I don’t know that there’s a right answer. To me, it’s the principle behind doing a list sweep. That principle is to have visibility and awareness into all of your life’s open loops, all of those various inboxes that are in your life, from email to your literal inbox.

When I first started doing a Weekly Preview, one of my things to sweep was my car. I literally would go out to the car, because inevitably, there was some kind of gift card, there was a receipt, there was something in there. It was like little triggers, physically, in my car that I’d be like, “Oh, right! I need to do that or send that to this person.”

The benefit of having done a list sweep is a sense of calm, a sense of going, “I am aware of things.” Not that you would engage in all of those things but that you would just not have that nagging feeling of, “I feel like I’m forgetting something.” For you, you may just look at your planner if you keep everything in there. I personally use a hybrid system, so I have digital inboxes. I would encourage you to look at your physical calendar, if you have one, or your digital calendars, because looking at last week’s events and the upcoming events…

You’re kind of doing that in the next step of the Weekly Preview, which is the weekly overview, but looking back at the calendar, I’m like, “Oh, right! I had that meeting with Jeff, and I never followed up.” It always sparks something. So, to me, it’s “Where do I have open loops?” Ask yourself that question, and you’ll find the answer to “What do I need to sweep in the list sweep time?”

Courtney: I will add, for me, personally, when it comes to email, the idea of on my Sunday night having to go weed through all of the emails to find tasks makes me, honestly, twitch a little bit. So my approach to that would be as you’re going through the email the first time… Kind of what Blake said. Where’s your repository? For him, it’s that hybrid system.

Go ahead and move those to-do items to your planner. That way, when you get to your Weekly Preview, you know the key sources. Otherwise, your Weekly Preview could be quite lengthy if you have… And maybe that’s a good exercise, Blake, like you said, just coming up with “Where are all of the places that need to be swept?”

Blake: Just for reference, when I first started doing a Weekly Preview, the list sweep took forever. You maybe have never actually done that. It’s sort of like the junk drawer where there’s all kinds of stuff in there. As you build this habit, that junk drawer stays a lot tidier, and it’s like, “Oh, check this, check this, check this.” So, don’t feel like you’re failing or this system won’t work if the first couple of times it feels like, “Boy, there’s a lot to sweep through.”

Verbs: Jessica asked, “My only hesitation between using my Full Focus Planner is that I can’t hash out my thoughts at length,” almost like a journal or a diary. “Maybe I should use two notebooks for this, my Full Focus Planner and another.” She’s just asking for our input there. What are the best resources to use to get those two practices in order?

Blake: Yes. A thousand percent yes. Jessica, you are correct. Do not try to squeeze it all into your pocket Full Focus Planner or even your full-size Full Focus Planner. As someone who writes a lot of words every day, I don’t recommend this. We make a wonderful journal and even give some of the principles and ideas for effective journaling in our Episode 61. We did an experiment together that you can listen to us reflect on.

If you don’t know where to go, start with our journal, because it’s a great mechanism for extracting the lessons, the ideas, the things you may want to get out of your own head and on paper. But definitely, get a notebook. Get a legal pad. Get the Day One app. That’s an app I use to journal. Anything. I highly encourage you to journal, and then, if you want, your journal could be, to go back to the last question, something you include in your list sweep if you want to see, “Hey, what lessons did I learn this week? What was I thinking about?” You can always browse through that for highlights.

Verbs: Okay. Maggie asked a question I know a lot of planner users wonder as well. She says, “I struggle with wanting to keep my weekends fun and separate from work. Is there a creative way to use the planner on the weekend and keep it fun?” My assumption here is trying to schedule stuff on the weekend kind of throws her back into the work mode, and she’s wanting a distinction from those two worlds.

Courtney: I don’t know if this is creative as much as useful when you think about your goals. If the Full Focus System is about helping you achieve your goals, especially if your goals are spanning several life domains, the time you need to be working on those goals may be on Saturday and Sunday. That sounds like work, but it could just be this new hobby you’re pursuing or this hiking goal or you’re going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. (I’m going to say it over and over again until I just don’t remember it.)

So, if you could reframe it as, “Hey, I’m using this on the weekend because it’s helping me achieve my goals that are beyond work…” I think that’s where you find the power there. The other option is you don’t use it on the weekend. There are a lot of people who don’t. I say that to say…you can balance your usage here. If you have a whole day that you’re going to be out and about and feel like, “I don’t need to write down my schedule” or “I don’t need to have a Big 3 for today,” that’s okay.

Blake: One thing I would add if you wanted to… I was going to say, based on what you said, Courtney, probably limit what you use it on the weekend for. When I’m at work, the planner is open all day long because I really want to keep the Big 3 in front of me. But if you want to hold on to “How could I be intentional today?” my recommendation would be don’t make creating your Big 3 part of your workday startup or workday shutdown, because then it will feel unnatural on the weekend. Just by opening the planner, it will trigger a workday vibe.

Instead, make setting a Daily Big 3 part of your evening ritual or your morning ritual. That way, on the weekend, it feels more natural. It feels like, “Part of what I use the planner for is setting a Big 3, and that’s just what I do when I wake up in the morning after I brush my teeth.” Then it won’t feel like you’re triggering your brain into being at work.

Courtney: Blake, that’s such a great trick, especially if you’re somebody who struggles with your Daily Big 3 being always work related. Actually, one of my friends asked me about this. She was like, “I’m great at setting them, but they’re always work related.” Obviously, that’s not the intention, because they’re rolling up into your Weekly Big 3, which is, hopefully, moving you closer to your quarterly goals, and those aren’t all work related.

So, I love that idea of moving it outside of the framework of work so that you’re more mindful of “Hey, today, one of my Big 3 is to go get that workout in, because that’s this new habit goal I’m working on.” That’s great. Everybody listening, you should celebrate when one of your Daily Big 3 is something outside of work, because you are being conscious of your whole person.

Verbs: That’s important too, because, remember, you don’t have to have three, especially if you’re talking about a weekend. If it is that one, if it’s to get the workout in, if it’s cut the grass… You’re creating more liberty into the rest of your weekend, knowing you have that one thing you planned to do done and out of the way and accomplished.

Special thanks to our community for submitting your questions. We had a fun time answering those. Blake, Courtney, do you have any final thoughts for our Focus on This listeners?

Courtney: I don’t have final thoughts, but there’s one more question I really want to answer.

Blake: Okay. Yes. I’ll sign one headshot for you, Courtney.

Courtney: Thank you! Oh my gosh. Thank you. Yes. Mariana asked, “What do you do when you are 100 percent sold on the Full Focus Planner but your business partner isn’t and won’t be persuaded?” This is a really good question, and I want to answer this, because I think it also comes up in partnerships in relationships as well. We’ve talked about that.

Obviously, you can’t force anyone to do something they can’t do. Again, we love using this language of an experiment. Can you convince them not to be 100 percent sold on Full Focus, but can you get them to do an experiment with you? That would be my first step at trying to convince them. Would they take on a 30-day experiment? Okay. I’m done cheating. This was a really fun episode, Blake. I loved this.

Blake: I did too. Keep the questions coming. Hopefully we can do another episode like this again in the not-too-distant future.

Verbs: Thank you for joining us on Focus on This. This is the most productive podcast on the Internet. So, please share it with your friends. Remember #focusonthispodcast. We’ll be here next week with another great episode. Until then…

All: Stay focused!