Reality Doesn't Suck


Last week I told you SMART goals were stupid, but I didn’t mean you shouldn’t have a plan of action.

Successful people have a plan of action.

Successful people start by creating a measurable plan of action. They break down their annual goals into smaller chunks – quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily objectives. They then revisit their plan on a regular basis to ensure that no course corrections need to be made.  They understand that while ideas are great, they will stay ideas unless you have a comprehensive plan for how to achieve them.  In keeping with the theme from last week — even those big, hairy, audacious goals need a plan!

Successful people deal with reality.

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel totally overwhelmed? You’ve been in back-to-back meetings all day.  Your to do list keeps growing. You wonder when you are going to find the time to get your work done, let alone hit the gym and/or spend time with friends/family/significant other.  Forget about your new meditation practice, or your commitment to stop eating out and cook at home, or the book you started a few weeks ago.  And planning? Forget about it. You are way too busy putting out fires.

Sound familiar? Well I’ve been there.

Let’s go back to 1998. I was in the second year of operating my consulting company. Not only was I hitting my stride, but I was hitting it out of the park. People were seeking me out. All the business I had was entirely by word of mouth. I should’ve been happy, grateful and satisfied. Instead I was completely overwhelmed.

Then the phone rang. It was from a key partner who needed to schedule some time with me. She also was a good friend and mentor so when she said “How are you doing?” I told her the truth.

The advice she gave me I still use to this day. I am eternally grateful for those precious nuggets of wisdom.

“I understand how much you think you have to do, but how many things do you really have to do?” she asked. “In reality, you have a finite to do list. It may be 100 things but it is finite. It seems overwhelming because you aren’t connected to reality,” she finished.

She was right. I took all the little notes scattered around my desk and put them into one big list. I had exactly 63 things to do (funny how those kinds of number stick with you).  She then recommended I estimate the amount of time each item would take and schedule an appointment for the work to be done in my calendar.

“You can schedule yourself a month, three months or a year out based on your deadlines,” she coached. “The point is to get everything into a real timeframe. This way you can be realistic about what you can get done and still have time for yourself, your family and your friends.”

Boy, did she know what she was talking about.

I’ve created what I call a “Reality Checklist,” which is a simple excel spreadsheet that I use to keep track of everything. I write it all down in one notebook, transfer everything to my Reality Checklist at the end of the day, and then put things into my calendar. This way when I wake up each morning I already know what my priorities are.

I’m happy to share a blank copy with you and walk you through how to use it. It’s a simple system that keeps my stress levels low. Just send an email to me at

If you are interested in a free coaching call to delve into this topic (or another topic) in more detail, just click on the button below to schedule some time with me. As always I welcome comments from you.  

Next week I’ll talk about accountability and how to hold yourself to account when no one is watching.


Jen CokenComment