I can’t decide which of our many goals are the highest priority and where to focus our time.
Confucius said, “He who chases two rabbits, catches neither.”
We know that in most areas of life, focus leads to accomplishment. Too many goals usually means that nothing gets done, since your energy is split in so many directions. The more you can narrow those goals, the better chance of success.
If you’re in an environment where many goals exist, it’s time to triage them to determine the priority. It’s more than just guessing; there are specific steps that can help us make that decision:
Analyze and compare your goals. Where did you get each goal in the first place? Whose goal was it originally? Are those goals still valid?
Talk to the key stakeholders for each goal to see if their original vision has changed or if changes might be happening that could impact those goals. If a goal has been in place for a long time, ask these questions:
- If we complete this goal, what will the real, long-term impact be?
- If we don’t complete this goal, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
- Is this goal still as important as it was at the beginning?
It’s possible – even likely – that the key stakeholder has changed their focus, and the goal is no longer as relevant as it was before. In that case, see if it’s worth revising or even eliminating the goal.
Ask your boss to help you prioritize your goals. Prepare a comprehensive list of all the goals your team is currently responsible for, the deadlines they’re facing, the amount of work involved, and the perceived value of each goal. Present the list to your boss, asking them to help prioritize it. Say, “I need your help. Here are all the things on our plate, and our time is really limited. Could you please prioritize this list for me, so I know where we need to put our time and energy?” For one thing, it uses tangible data to show your boss the workload your team is dealing with. If they catch a sense of your tight bandwidth issues, they might consider eliminating or postponing a few goals to make the schedule more realistic.
Build a process with your team. Your team won’t be able to prioritize goals since it’s the responsibility of those above them. But once you have the direction and approval you need, your team should welcome the chance to come up with creative solutions to make the goals happen in a sustainable way. After all, it’s their bandwidth at stake, so they should have a lot more interest in determining ways to get back in control.