How Big Picture Thinkers Can Focus and Get Things Done
Have you been blessed with the ability to step back and see the big picture? Do you have a knack for measuring milestones and plotting the path forward?
If so, you may, conversely, struggle with focusing on the specific tasks needed to make things happen. If you're a big picture thinker and are good at envisioning and goal-setting but then get overwhelmed by the enormousness of what needs to happen, you're not alone, and this post is for you.
I'm going to be honest for a second. I don't struggle with creating outlines for what needs to be done. Developing formats and formulas is what I do. I have a lot of faults and struggle with a lot of things, but creating templates and getting granular with tasks aren't among them.
But the topic of being a big picture thinker but struggling with getting into the details of what actions to take came up on a recent mastermind call. Two of my members, both extroverts (not sure if there is a correlation), knew they were big picture thinkers. They enjoyed, and had a talent for, setting large goals and dreaming large dreams.
However, both admitted to struggling when it came to getting things done.
Their goals were so vast and massive that they crushed the dreamer. My friends and members weren't challenged with what they wanted to do; they struggled with where to start.
Over the past few months, I've been talking with my clients about an analogy I'd like to share with you today. Another comparison, one which only just came to me while working with one of my groups, is just as important, and I'll share that too.
My goal today is to help the big picture thinkers focus on the small tasks that lead to big achievements and to get things done.
No One Ever Cleans the House
Did you know that no one cleans a house?
It doesn't happen, and it can't be done. However, when most people set goals, they set them like they'd clean the house. And they fail to check their tasks off their list.
Why is that?
When making their list of things that need to get done, many big picture thinkers simply list something like “clean the house.” For example, they may write down, “write my book” or “produce a video” or “train the new employee.” If you're making your lists like that, you'll ultimately fail.
Don't believe me?
Look at the last To Do list you created and tell me what it looks like. Did you fill it with big picture items?
Here's why no one ever cleans the house.
No one ever cleans the house because what they really do is vacuum the living room, wipe down the counter tops with a wet rag, align the books on the shelf in alphabetical order, move the dishes from the sink to the dishwasher, and fold the clothes.
Sure, you may know how to “clean the house” so you only put that item on your list. But, when it comes to building your business, growing your social media following, writing your book or finishing your course, “clean the house” doesn't cut it.
If you subscribe to the theory of S.M.A.R.T. goals, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound, you can't ignore the first bit which is specific. “Clean the house” isn't specific. “Increase revenue 30%” isn't specific. “Finish book” isn't specific.
It may be a challenge for you big picture thinkers out there (maybe not), but you must get granular with your goals if you're going to achieve them. And, in the process, I think you'll find that you complete more of those goals moving forward than you have in the past.
Okay, now that you've seen the big picture and know where you'd like to go, what's next?
Be The Gopher
Imagine a small gopher sticking its head out of its tiny gopher hole. He stands up, looks out across the open plain, and sees his destination on the horizon. He's seen the big picture, his goal has been set; his vision has been formed.
Over the next several days or weeks, the gopher goes underground. He scratches and claws and digs without tiring or stopping.
After a time, the gopher needs to take a break, pause and figure out if he's on track for reaching his goal. So, he digs a hole up to the surface, periscopes his head out, and determines if he's headed in the right direction.
It's at that point, when he measures his progress against the goal, that he makes a course correction. He doesn't spend his digging time debating whether he's always on target. The gopher just digs in the direction he set for himself, trusting his gut and his plan.
The gopher (somehow) knows that even the space shuttle is off-course 98% of the time, so it's ok to do the work and only come up for air to make required adjustments. If the gopher digs to a rock, he either goes under or around it; he doesn't stop digging.
Be the gopher. Be ok with working hard and only measuring your progress only once a quarter.
Seeing the Big Picture
We have to give ourselves the freedom to put our heads down and our blinders on so we can focus on what needs to be done. It's ok to focus on digging because the digging is what gets us to where we're going. It's ok to be off-course; we just have to be going in the right direction and not stand still or go backward.
If you want to turn your task list from jobs to do to jobs well done, you have to put in the work to make it happen.
By the way, just so you know I'm not over here preaching without taking my own medicine, I also struggle with this. Though I create task and to do lists, I don't always follow them. I am also often challenged with casting my vision, and maybe even with developing it in the first place.
It takes a great amount of discipline and self-awareness to be able to both create a vision and list the specific things that need to be done. But, anyone who wants to experience significant achievement must do it.
Over to you: What's your process for goal setting and task completion?