Success on Monday starts on Sunday night. Sunday night looks like three months from now. The vision of three months from now comes from looking at the year in advance. So, it’s not an overstatement to say that the success of one day starts with your vision for one year.
We should say there are a couple fallacies we want to deal with at the start:
1.) We tend to underestimate the time it takes to complete a project. This isn’t just something anecdotal. It was first proposed in 1979 by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky and by the time it made it into Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, it had a name: the Planning Fallacy. We have too much optimism when it comes to properly planning projects. So whatever number you come up with, you need to add to it.
2.) We also tend to do much more in three years than we think we can, and we tend to do much less in one year than we think we can. Therefore, it’s smarter to be optimistic when looking at your three-year plans, but more realistic when looking at your one-year plans.
Begin with the End in Mind
The reality is that many of us often don’t take the time to reflect on what we want our life to look like three years from now. Once we have written down that vision, we can start to turn those visions into milestones. Once we’ve done that, we can then project those milestones out over a three-year period, which then gets us to the closest year to us. From there you can identify what are essential and important (broad strokes) to achieve your target and split up the year into 90-day segments.
Also keep in mind that too many goals means that none of them will be achieved. You need to focus on 2-3 key areas (e.g. spiritual, emotional, physical, business, etc.) and within those areas have clearly defined SMART goals. As a refresher, SMART stands for:
S = Specific (“lose weight” is not specific)
M = Measurable (when will you know you have achieved it?)
A = Attainable (ambitious, but realistic)
R = Relevant (aligned with your other goals)
T = Time-bound (completion date)
Sunday Night Strategy
Because you’ve worked your way backwards from three years to one year to 90 days your Sunday night now becomes relevant and the basis of a productive and successful week. Take just one hour on Sunday night to do the following:
-Clean out email. There may have been some that came in late on Friday or over the weekend. Replying to them now gets you ahead of the curve on Monday and starts you with a clean inbox.
-Celebrate wins from last week. What were some really positive moments from last week? Take a moment to reflect on them, and perhaps even note them down in a journal.
-Evaluate “losses” from last week. What didn’t happen? What meetings were cancelled? Was there anything you could have done to make the situation better?
-Clarify what needs to happen this week across all your SMART goals. This means you’re thinking in the long-term but acting in the short term.
-Finish by scheduling out your entire week.
You’ve done it. You’ve set yourself up to win the week because you took the time to visualize the year ahead and work backwards. It sounds complicated, but once you’ve taken the time to do it, it isn’t, really. It just takes time, and most people are not willing to take that time, but that’s why they lose in productivity, and why you’re going to win.