I recently undertook a major “weekly” review in which I re-committed myself to striving for completeness. In a way, this review will go on for days or maybe weeks to come, because I am going through a lot of old papers and diaries and notes. Most of what I am discovering in these papers is depressingly repetitive – endless commitments “finally” to get things sorted out in the main departments in my life.
However, the occasional nugget of ambition shows up, and it is these items that are making it into my in-box (the rest are filling trash bags).
Another part of my weekly review is to go down through DA’s incompletions checklist on page 114 of GTD. It was while going through this list over the weekend that I remembered that my older pre-GTD notes were based on reading Anthony Robbins.
DA’s checklist is very broad, but is basically concerned with things already underway. In the sections of the book that deal with the weekly review, he encourages us to write down anything that comes into our heads even if it can only go on the someday/maybe listing. But I think Robbins goes deeper into the goal setting process.
Okay, I know that the weekly review is NOT a goal setting session. In fact, the weekly review is ideally positioned to help us ensure that we actually have a Next Action listed for all active goals. The goal setting session can, and possibly should, be on a different day to the weekly review.
Nevertheless, the insight helped me realise that the job of GTD through the weekly review is to help us capture everything that is rolling forward in our lives, whereas goal-setting is a separate exercise where we fire an arrow into our future, and then work our way towards where it lands.
What I am getting at is that I think I had been relying on GTD to do the goal setting for me. The reality is that I need to have my goals set before I get to the review – and then I can rely on GTD to see to it that the goals do not drift away like the clouds.
(Many people comment that the positive effects of reading or attending Anthony Robbins seem to fade after a few days. But I think that is Anthony Robbins’ only objective – to create a buzz of can-do in us. I think that the best way to use Robbins is to make big plans and goals while he has you fired up, and then, in the spirit of GTD, get a Next Action and Outcome down on paper, and maybe some planning bullet points as well. After that, the weekly review will see to it that the commitments and the hard reality of the Next Action do not disappear from your life.
Robbins says we should never leave the scene of a decision, i.e. a new goal, without taking some specific action towards its fulfilment. That action can only be the Next Action.)
Goal setting can really only be done in an upbeat frame of mind – I think that a new goal recorded as "outcome plus Next Action" will anchor it in our lives, even after we come down from the buzz of optimism.
Goals, when achieved, will present a different version of one or more of the current realities of our lives, and that is why we can become disillusioned by them when we return to humdrum mode. But they are also like climbing a stairs in that you can’t reach your destination before you take the next step.
Sorry for the rambling post – that’s the danger of thinking in print!