Triggers is the latest book by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter, and, if you work the system, one that can change your life.
What makes this book so valuable is that the authors explain how we are generally much better planners than executors of our plans; how to recognize the triggers that derail us; and they offer a simple approach of what to do to finally reach our goals: becoming more aware through tracking.
You’ve probably observed this in your own life: You know in the morning what your day should look like, but then “triggers” occur, and you get sidetracked. Or, you say you want to reach a specific goal, but then find yourself a good time later – weeks or months – still talking about it, but not having moved any closer to it. Having these kinds of experiences repeatedly erodes your self-esteem and your confidence, because you will eventually think of yourself as incapable, underachieving, and no-good-at-reaching your goals. Naturally you stop trying.
Well, after you honestly analyze your behavior and the triggers that derail you, you become more aware and you can develop approaches to counteract them. You’ve also heard “what gets tracked, gets done,” right? And that is what was my favorite take-away: the action steps to get you to reach your goals. Here they are:
- Write down your objectives. Make a list of all of them. (If you’re not willing to do that, don’t even read on.)
- Figure out when and how, ideally, you’d like to execute on your plan to achieve them. Break down larger goals into smaller ones.
- Every evening, ask the question, “Did I try my best today to [objective]?”
- Rank your efforts between 1 and 10. One being “I totally didn’t even try”, and 10 being “Wow, I totally rocked it. I couldn’t have done better!”
- Reflect: Notice how that feels, determine what led to this result, and decide how you will use what you’ve learned in future efforts.
What to do when you rank consistently low in working toward achieving a certain goal:
- Notice how it doesn’t make you feel good.
- You may decide that you weren’t so interested in achieving that goal in the first place. In that case, you can drop it off of your to-do list and free up space for other, more important goals.
- You can prioritize it going forward, working around the issues that have stood in the way of your progress.
- You can build in more accountability (which is often the cause of not reaching one’s goals): Hire a coach. (Goldsmith himself had to hire a coach to reach certain goals, he tells us.)
When you rank your efforts high:
- Notice how great that makes you feel!!
- You’ve focused on doing well and you’ve accomplished it. Knowing that you can achieve, having given it a good try, will propel you to achieve more of the same-level results, even with some of your other goals.
- You can remind yourself in the future what you’ve accomplished in the past and be assured that you can tackle the next challenge equally well.
- What a confidence booster, right?!
The book is replete with stories from Goldsmith working with clients, primarily executives; the examples seemed real and relate-able.
I liked the audio version of the book so much, I bought the hard cover, too. Some things are worth listening to or reading more than once. And, as is the case with many self-help books, if you don’t consistently apply what you’ve learned, you might as well not have read the book. Triggers offers a systematic approach to obtaining your goals (personal and professional), and you may just want to give it a try.