Stressed woman holds her head while upsetting words all around

Mistake Number 1: You Play Small

Unsuccessful people avoid setting goals. As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will do.” Successful people know where they are going because they spend the time to reflect on the mistakes they’ve made in the past and create 3 to 5 goals per year that they are out to achieve.

Furthermore, successful people don’t just set run of the mill goals, they have big audacious goals that will be worthy of their time and worthy of the possibility of failure. Successful people know that putting their butts on the line for something big is where their creative juices flow. They also know that even if they fail, simply knowing that they left it all on the playing field was worth the effort.

One other point, successful people also know that failing does not make you a failure. Failing is just a step toward success.

Mistake Number 2: You Have No Plan of Action

Ideas are great, but your ideas will stay ideas unless you have a comprehensive plan for how to achieve them. Successful people break down their annual goals into smaller chunks – quarterly, monthly, weekly, and even daily. Your plan will make sure that what you are working on each day is moving you toward success.

Mistake Number 3: You Don’t Write Things Down in One Place

Successful people keep track of their ideas, their to do’s, notes, and reflections all in one notebook. This is the first thing I recommend to my clients: Go buy one (AND ONLY ONE) notebook to keep track of everything. The notebook doesn’t have to be special but it should fit into your purse or pocket so that you can take it everywhere. If you are like most people, you have post-it notes or scribble pads in your house, in your car, and on your computer at work. By keeping all of your ideas in one place you avoid repeating yourself and don’t have to hunt for that “great idea” you had last week in your Monday morning meeting.

Mistake Number 4: You Don’t Keep Track of Everything You Have To Do

It’s great to have everything in a notebook, but if you don’t have an easy way to keep track of those items, it’s unlikely they will get done. I give my clients a “Reality Checklist.” Every night I coach them to take what is in their notebook and put it into what I call their “Reality Checklist.” This checklist is a simple excel spreadsheet that keeps track of your “to-dos” in several different ways - by category, by deadline, by date entered, and by amount of estimated time it will take to complete each task. This simply allows you to be more productive because you can sort the data according to your goals.

Mistake Number 5: You Don’t Deal with Reality

Have you ever felt overwhelmed or like the weight of the world is on your shoulders because you have so much going on? Well truth be told you have a finite amount of things going on. If you are writing them down and putting them into your Reality Checklist then you know you have 14 things, or 67 things, or 23 things going on. But that is only part of your path to success. Everything "you have going on” must be scheduled into your calendar.  

Take the items from your “Reality Checklist” and start scheduling appointments in your calendar to complete the work. You can schedule yourself a month, three months, or a year out based on your deadlines. The point is to get it into a real time frame. This way you can be realistic about what you can get done and still have time for yourself, your family, and your friends!

Knowing these common mistakes and how to avoid them will surely change the way you look at how to be ridiculously effective, but it’s not enough.

Not only do you have to know what NOT to do, but you also must make some positive changes to achieve your annual goals.

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About The Author

Jen Coken's picture

Jen Coken is an author, life coach, and comedian who wants to live in a world where you’re free to be yourself and achieve your soul’s purpose—a vision that has driven her work as a Coach, Speaker, Author, Comedian for more than 20 years.

Drawing on three decades of experience as a non-profit leader and grassroots organizer, Jen helps CEOs and entrepreneurs overcome their self-made limitations and do their heart’s work.

But Jen’s impact doesn’t end there: She spent six years on the Denver stand-up comedy circuit and brings a sense of humor to every topic she addresses, including the experience of coping with her mother's diagnosis and death from ovarian cancer.

Jen’s book, "When I Die, Take My Panties: Turning Your Darkest Moments into Your Greatest Gifts" chronicles that experience and shares Jen’s core message that everything that comes our way is meant to teach us about ourselves.

When she’s not crafting bestselling books or speaking to audiences around the country, you can find Jen eating Nutella by the spoonful in the nearest grocery aisle.

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