You go to college and they give you a course plan so you can graduate. You start working and they give you a retirement plan to save for retirement. But no one ever teachers you what to do in between. You may have a succession plan at work to get a higher position in your company, but what about your life? What about what you want to accomplish and create in your own life and existence? Have you ever sat down and creating a realistic and doable plan to accomplish those goals?
The SPRINTS Method
1) Set Your Goal
The first principal of the SPRINTS Method is to discover your solution. What issue or challenge are you attempting to solve in your life? What solution are you looking for? This is the goal setting part of the SPRINTS Method. You need to create your overall goal. What do you want to accomplish over the next 12 weeks. This can come in many different forms, do you want to loose weight, build a business, write a book, start a blog, or start a ministry. There is nothing magical about this goal except it is yours. You do need to be specific about your goals, loosing weight is too broad. You have 12 weeks, how much weight do you want to loose. Writing a book is too ambiguous. What type of book do you want to write and how much do you think you are realistically accomplish over the next 12 weeks in this book. You DO NOT want to write a book in 12 weeks, it probably will not be very good. But can you get it outlined, researched, and a couple of chapters written within that time frame?
2) Position Yourself for Success Where & When You Sprint
The next principal of the SPRINTS Method is position. You need to set yourself up for success both mentally and physically. Are you mentally ready to win? If not why? Position your mind and soul for positivity and success.
Next you need to answer the questions of where and when will most of this work take place. You need to identify a setting and time when you will focus on your goal. A runner does not randomly go out and run, they plot a course, with a defined time and distance and begin their run. This mindset is just as important to you in accomplishing your goals.
If you are loosing weight when and where are you going to exercise during the day? I know if I do not do my exercises in the morning they probably are not going to get done. Once the sun comes up and every else gets up my day gets crazy and I get tired and I push the exercise to the side. But by scheduling this time and doing them at this specific time every day I am more than likely to hit my targets. I really cannot remember a time where I said “I will get to the gym when I have time” and i actually made it there.
Same is true with my writing. I schedule my writing times. Now there are times where I get an idea and run with it, but those are few and far between. If I don’t schedule when I am going to write and make sure I have a good place to write it probably won’t happen. So I put on my SPRINTS dialy calendar blocks of time I will write and then I put down the place for that specific writing. It may be at the house, if it is the afternoon I usually need to go somewhere else and write so I will go to the coffee shop or bookstore and write.
This is essentially setting the mood for your Sprint. Do you need to stretch before you exercise, light a candle before you write, or reread your business plan every time you begin to work on your business. Be specific, put guardrails around this time and place. If you don’t other competing activities will. Remember no one cares more about your success than you do. Make sure you do everything you can put yourself in a place to succeed.
The third principal of the SPRINTS Method is finding your Rhythm. One of the most important aspects of running a race is finding your rhythm. How long can you work on your sprint at any given time? How does your goal fit in with the rest of your life and how are you going to manage it properly? This principal is extremely important for anyone living with a limitation and is one of the foundational elements of the SPRINTS Method. Remember this is a sprint and not a marathon.
I have learned in my own life I have about 2 hours windows where i can really work, dig in, concentrate well, and create good content. It has taken me years to get to this understanding but it has worked out well for me. When I am writing or working I block out 2 hour intervals to write, work on projects, plan activities, or do administrative tasks. On the off chance I am on a roll and can keep on going then by all means I do. But usually at the end of 2 hours I need to change direction or change focus. I do this by taking a walk, reading a book, listening to a podcast, or meeting someone for coffee.
The distraction allows my mind and my body to recuperate. My body is ravaged with pain and sitting in one place for long periods of time gets extremely uncomfortable. But if I commit to the sprint, then after 2 hours I am taking a break and doing something different. This allows me to come back and usually I can pick up where i left off and keep chugging away.
This is why it is important for you to find your rhythm. How do you work best? How can you create intentional interruptions which will help you readjust for the sole purpose of being able to get back to your tasks or goals with the same vigor and intensity. This will take some experimentation but once you can find a rhythm for your sprint it will become much easier to complete your goals.
I know this is extremely difficult to attempt to cultivate with life, careers, children, family, tv, social media, sickness, and any of a number of other distractions. We will talk more about this under the Stretch principal. But the point here is to not let this be an exercise in frustration, but just keep at it as much as possible until you can find a rhythm which works for you. It may be crazy and completely unsustainable for anyone else, but if it works for you then awesome, keep at it.
The next principal in the SPRINTS Method is to be intentional. It really does not matter which day planner you use if you do not choose to use it every day. It is the same with dieting. For the average individual, even though there are thousands of diets and exercise routines out there. It really does not matter which one you chose, as long as you commit to it.
The same is true with your life and goals.You have to be intentional about not only creating your goals, but executing them. What you are doing by creating Your Better Adventure, setting goals, defining when and where you will work on them is creating intentionality in reaching your goals. You are also giving yourself the ability to say “NO!” which is extremely powerful. If you know what you want to accomplish and know how you want to do it, then it is much easier to say no to competing priorities.
If you have outlined your diet and exercise and how are you are going to execute against them. It is much easier to say no to the sweets, sodas, and distractions. If you just wake up each day and hope you diet and exercise, it will rarely happen. You have no overarching goal or reason to commit to the plan. Even if parts of the SPRINTS Method seem useless or “not your style” commit to them for 12 weeks. Commit to doing everything that is asked and see the progress your make.
At the end of the 12 weeks you are going to have a much better idea of what works and didn’t work. It is at this point you reevaluate what you did and what you can change for the good. We are all about flexibility to make the most of your life. Just keep stepping forward one day at a time.
5) Navigate Obstacles
The fifth principal of the SPRINTS Method is to navigate obstacles. You are rarely going to successfully achieve any goals by them be laid in your lap. You are either going to come up against an obstacle or you already know what your current obstacle is. An important aspect of the sprint method is to identify your obstacles and make a plan on how you are going to address them before they appear.
There are two types of obstacles most people are dealing with, the internal and the external. The internal obstacles are the pains, emotions, doubts we all face. The external is life. The traffic, the sick kids, the days which get away from you and you have no idea what happened. Both of these are a reality of life. It is irrational to simply ignore these obstacles and pretend they are not there.
With the external obstacles identify what they are and specifically how they affect your day. Is it a distraction, a nuisance, or something which cannot be ignored. Then identify how you will respond each time you encounter this obstacle. My pain is a major obstacle. I never know how I am going to feel when I wake up and many days the pain can amplify with no warning or reason. I used to try to ignore the pain and try and push through. This was a fruitless and extremely frustrating exercise. Now that I have identified my specific pain and how it effect my thoughts, my actions, my relationships I can act more accordingly and decrease the guilt and frustration which comes along with not being able to complete a task.
Whether you have a specific pain or doubts or even someone who needs your constant care. Do not ignore this part of your life. But write it down and be specific in how it will effect you accomplishing your goals. Because once you identify your obstacle you are in a better position to work around it or with it as necessary.
With the external obstacles you simply need to be aware they are out there and are going to attempt to derail you from your goals. Many of these are outside your control. But it is still helpful to identify as many of them as you can and then attempt to understand how each of these external obstacles can distract you from your goal. The main purpose here is to eliminate frustration when you get sidetracked. Just know it will happen but put some markers in place to help you avoid getting completely derailed from something which should only be a momentary sidetrack.
6) Take Breaks
If you are attempting a goal outside your normal life or even within, you need to assign yourself breaks. What will you do each day to decompress, relax, or turn your focus elsewhere? This may be taking a walk, doing a crossword puzzle, coffee with a friend, or some simple breathing exercises, or a short binge of Netflix. These are not to be complicated, nor add extra stress into your life. Your life is probably stressful enough and you do not feel like you have the time to relax or have fun. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you want to be productive and create great things. Then ever now and then you need to step away and do something different in so that you can come back and crush your goals.
These should be short periods of time where you indulge yourself in something completely different than your goals or tasks. Something that can give your mind or body a break, for the sole purpose of coming back to what you were working on with greater clarity, passion, and pursuit.
you will need to maintain your flexibility during your sprint or else you will become frustrated. How will you pivot, stretch, and be flexible during your sprint?
The funny thing about working toward your goals is they can change in the process. It is one thing to define a goal, it is something completely different all together to actually attempt to execute against your goals. In the process of executing against your goals your end goal may transform, modify, or even completely change and that is fine. Give yourself the grace enough to allow this to happen.
Part of your flexibility is to alternate course when needed. If you are out on a run and a tree has fallen in your path you are not going to stop and turn back. Your goal may be molding, adjusting, and changing and that is not a bad thing as long as it is still in line with what you want to accomplish. In the course of your sprint you need to see how you will alternate course and be open to change with your goal as you sprint. Podcast, Books on tape, administrative tasks, anything to keep you moving forward.
When I started writing a book I was writing a completely different book than the first one I published. But in the process of executing against my goal of writing a book the topic changed dramatically. Since this new topic was flowing more freely I stretched and began seeing where it would take me. The end result was the same, I published a book, but the process and content were completely different. Be flexible, be willing to stretch, and give yourself the grace to go in another direction if needed.
There have also been times when people are working on one goal of starting a business or writing a book and a unseen door all of a sudden opens. A new business opportunity a chance to write with or for someone of influence. Do not be afraid to change your goals mid-stream if a new opportunity arises. If it is truly awesome then change gears, pivot, and crush the new opportunity. Your initial goals will still be there and may or may not be relevant when you complete your new opportunity.
The point is you always want to be moving forward. If something is inhibiting that then you need to remove it as quickly as possible. But if your goals change dramatically because of new circumstances, and it is still moving you forward to where you ultimately want to be then stretch and pivot and make it happen.
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