Following a proven goal-setting system can help you specify your objectives, measure your progress, and stay focused. But what do you do when you encounter roadblocks along the way? Today, I’m going to tell you exactly what I do to push through, jump over, toss aside, or take a detour away from five of my personal roadblocks in order to stay on track.
Roadblock #1: Perfectionism
Striving to be perfect was always my biggest challenge. My business associates and partners loved giving me projects because I would pull out all the stops and become completely devoted to getting it done… and done right.
It didn’t matter to me how much time or energy I had to spend – my pride demanded perfection.
What I finally learned was:
• My perception of perfection was usually more than what was expected.
• The last 10 percent of a project – the time it takes to get things “perfect” – takes just as long to complete as the first 90 percent.
• Project goals change all the time. So it’s better to come within 90 percent of my idea of perfection and save a little time for the inevitable changes.
For example, I used to design Group Health Plan documents for self-insured accounts. I would toil for hours on end, double-check with the client on her vision, and present the “perfect” document… only to hear something like this: “Great job, Bob! But there’s a different direction we want to go in regarding certain areas of the benefit design.”
It didn’t matter that I had listened and incorporated exactly what the client said she wanted. It didn’t matter that I had researched a mountain of data to figure out how I could achieve her initial vision. The project wasn’t complete, and more work needed to be done.
Bottom line: Stay in motion. Aim for good, push through the modifications that arise, and then… aim for better and repeat the process until the desired results are achieved.
Roadblock #2: Failure to Compromise
This is a roadblock to my success that still creeps up on me, though it doesn’t happen as often as it used to.
I was a real know-it-all. A jerk. I had little patience for anyone who didn’t want to do everything my way. But this attitude only served to alienate others. And often those were people who could have helped me on important projects.
Now when I’m working with someone who wants to do a project in a way that’s different from the way I would do it, I ask myself:
• Is this legal?
• Will this is in some fashion move my goal forward?
• Can I honor this request?
If I can answer YES… then I’ve taken an appropriate detour around this roadblock. That detour – known as compromise – really comes in handy. And it doesn’t work only at the office. It works really well at home. (Just ask my wife, Karin.)
Roadblock #3: Lack of Listening Skills
I can become easily distracted if the person I’m listening to is taking a long time to make a point. But when I remind myself to use active listening skills, I am able to toss aside this roadblock.
Through the years, I have developed the following tips to help me do that:
• Your ears are for hearing… your mind is for listening.
• Listen for ideas and central themes (even take notes).
• Don’t interrupt. Wait your turn to speak.
• Circle any points in your notes that you want to emphasize when it’s your turn.
• Judge content… not delivery.
Roadblock #4: Reluctance to Ask Others for Help and Ideas
I used to think it was a sign of weakness to ask for help on a project. I was wrong. It only slowed me down in achieving my goals… and created an unnecessary roadblock.
It’s better to have a “suggestion box” mindset. In other words, to be willing to ask for and receive help, including alternate ideas and solutions, from all those involved. I often ask for input even from people who are not involved.
You will be surprised at how many good ideas other people have.
And don’t forget to thank them. By developing this success habit, you will have lots of extra resources to draw on whenever you’re stuck on a problem.
Roadblock #5: Not Understanding the Team Concept
Here is where my know-it-all attitude would set up another roadblock for me. You see, whenever I was involved in a project… I always wanted to be the team leader.
I finally recognized that there are people who are better than I am (go figure!) to lead particular types of projects. It was a tough truth to swallow. But once I accepted it, it made a big difference.
Case in point: The safety meetings I attend for one of my insurance clients. In the old days, I would insist on being the presenter. After all, safety was my business, and I was an expert in claim-related safety issues. But the new Bob lets another guy, Kenny, chair these meetings.
Kenny is clearly more qualified than I to do this – and he does an amazing job. He has over 20 years in that particular industry, which gives him an edge (over me) in knowing how to talk to the managers and relate to the manager mindset.
I urge you to jump over this roadblock by letting someone else lead when the opportunity presents itself. Let another team member head the project, let your spouse call the shots for your next dinner party, or let your joint venture partner negotiate an important contract. When you do, you’ll realize how much you can learn by taking on the role of his or her assistant.
In addition to the above, you may have roadblocks of your own that you encounter on a regular basis. Here’s a simple three-step process to help you navigate through them and keep yourself on the path to success.
1. List three of your personal roadblocks to success. BE HONEST. It’s difficult to admit your “shortcomings” or “issues,” but that’s the only way this technique will help you.
2. Write two or three paragraphs about why these roadblocks are a problem for you and how they are inhibiting your success.
3. List at least three ways to push through, jump over, toss aside, or take a detour away from these roadblocks that keep holding you back from achieving your goals.