The Working With... Podcast | Episode 27 | Finding Time To Work On Your Goals

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In this week’s episode of The Working With… Podcast, I answer a question about finding time to achieve your goals.


Hello and welcome to episode 27 of my Working With Podcast. A podcast created to answer all your questions about productivity, GTD, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

In this week’s show I answer a wonderful question about finding the time to work on your goals when you have a full-time job and little spare time in the evenings and at weekends. 

Don’t forget, if you have a question you would like me to answer then all you need do is email me at or DM me on Facebook or Twitter. All the links are in the show notes.

Oh and I would just like to thank all of you who have enrolled in my recently published new FREE online course; The Beginners Guide To Building Your Own Productivity System. I’ve been overwhelmed by how many people have enrolled and I feel so thankful to be able to help so many people. So a BIG thank you to all you who have enrolled. It really does mean a lot to me. 

Ok, let’s get in to this weeks question, so it is time for me now to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice, for this week’s question. 

This week’s question comes from Alana. Alana asks, Carl, I have a lot of goals and plans, but never seem to have time to do anything about them. Is there anything I can do that will help me focus on my goals every day?

Great question Alana and thank you for sending it in.

I think this is a problem many people face when they really want to change their lives, but have work and social commitments that always seem to take up much of their available time each day. I know I have struggled with this in the past. 

The thing is if your goals are important enough to you, then you will always find a way. If what you want, and your reasons for wanting it is strong enough, finding the time usually comes naturally. Whenever I am working with a client and I see they always have an excuse for not doing anything towards achieving their goals, I always ask them about the reason they want to achieve that particular goal— what we call “their why”— most of the time I find their reason for wanting to achieve the goal is not personal enough. 

What I mean by that is if the reason you want to achieve something is to impress your boss or impress your family and friends, then the reason for doing it is not for you. Sure, if you do achieve the goal, people might go “WOW!” for a few minutes, but then your achievement will be quickly forgotten. If, however, your reason for achieving the goal is deeply personal, then when you do achieve the goal, the feeling of accomplishment and achievement lasts much longer and always inspires you to set yourself another, more ambitious goal. It becomes a beautiful cycle of achievement. 

Let’s take an example. Let’s say you have always wanted to build your very own application. You want to create a note taking app that you believe will be the best in the market. That’s a good starting point, but the next question you need to answer is “why? Why do you want to build this app? Now, there could be a number of reasons. Reasons such as you have never been able to find a note taking app that works for you and you want to build one, it could be because you love building things or it could be because you really want to start your own business. All of these are good, valid reasons. Get these reasons written down underneath your goal. 

Your reasons are your motivation. Almost everyone I know would love to be a millionaire. I’m sure you would too. The reason most people will never become a millionaire is because their “why” is not strong enough and not personal enough. Building your own app, losing weight, becoming a millionaire is easy, but the process to building, losing or becoming any of these things is hard. Often very hard. Losing weight is a great example. Most people make a decision to lose weight just after they have eaten a very large Sunday dinner and finished that off with a ginormous helping of chocolate fudge cake Hmmmm. As they sit down after eating, thy look down at their stomach and see this bloated beachball of a stomach and say “I must lose some weight”.

Well, when you are full it IS easy to decide to lose some weight. But what about the next day. You eat a banana for breakfast and you have a salad for lunch. How do you feel at 4pm? You’re very hungry. Now how easy is it to maintain a diet? Not so easy. Past experience has taught me ignoring hunger pangs is incredibly difficult and if someone comes round to your table with a packet of biscuits (cookies to my American friends) how easy is it to say “no” now? THis is why your “why” has to be strong and has to be personal. 

I say “personal” because often we think we have a strong “why”, but the “why is someone else’s why. A great example of this is when we visit our doctor for a checkup and the doctors tells you you need to lose a little weight. Sure, losing weight might be good for your long-term health, but what if you are happy with your weight and you don’t see it as a problem? Here we have a situation where the goal is clear - lose some weight, but the motivation to lose weight is not strong. You are not going to lose weight. The why is some else’s why. 

When you have a clear goal, and a strong, personal why, finding the time to do something with the goal is much easier. But before you can go about achieving the goal you need tasks that will help you to achieve it. Let’s take the note taking app goal. To create an app of any kind involves a lot of steps. It is not just about writing the code. You need to think about the design, the colours the features and interface. You also need to start building the code. If you have no idea how to code, then you need to start learning how to code. There are many steps. This is great because there will be a mixture of big and small tasks. Tasks that will take many hours and tasks that will only take a few minutes. Get these all written down somewhere. In a task management app, a notes app or a notebook and paper. Just get them all written down. 

Okay, I know this is a very long way round to answering your question Alana, but the truth is, unless your goals are set properly, they are crystal clear, have a strong why and have a precise deadline, you will never find the time to do anything about them because there will always be something else that seems more important than your goals. Once you have your goals set up strongly, then you will find it much easier to motivate yourself to find the time. 

I have found in the past if I am trying to achieve a personal goal when I am working it can be very difficult to motivate myself to spend time working on the personal goal once I finish work. A few years ago when I decided to take part in the ChunCheon Marathon here in Korea, I found it incredibly difficult to find the time to do the running to prepare for the marathon. What really helped was my desire to prove to myself that although it had been ten years since I had run a marathon, I could still do it even though I was now in my forties. So when I came home after a long day of teaching and it was pouring with rain outside, all I had to do was remind myself of my reason for running the marathon and I soon found I was dressed in my running gear and heading out the door for a run. It really does come down to your reasons why you want to achieve the goal. 

Another way to keep yourself moving forward with your goals is to schedule time each day to work on the goals. Don’t go mad here, just allocate time between say, 9:00pm and 9:30pm to work on your goal. It could be doing some research if you are very tired or it could be writing code, running, doing yoga or any number of things. All you need to do is refer to your list of tasks the night before, choose one task that you will complete the next day and write it down into your to-do list or calendar. The very action of choosing the task, writing it down and having a set time for you to work on the goal will be enough to motivate yourself to get it done. I have a set time each day between 10:30pm and 11pm to study something. It could be anything, a TED talk, a motivational video on YouTube or some reading research. All that matters is I do some learning each day as that is a goal for me. To learn something each day that improves my life and my skills. I have been doing this for over four months now and it is surprisingly easy to sit down at 10:30pm and get started. 

Of course there are the elements of PACT. Patience, Action, Consistency and Time. When you throw these into the mix you really are setting yourself up for success. To build an app, lose weight run a marathon, they all require patience. You need patience because none of these will happen overnight. Likewise, if you are not taking any action, consistently over a period of time you are never going to reach the finish line of any of your goals. You have got to make a “PACT” with yourself and make it happen. 

The truth is we all think we are busy. But busy is just a state of mind. Sure you might have a lot of things to do each day, but we also have the same time each day—24 hours— and what we do with most of those hours is entirely up to us. Prioritising the things that are important to us, should always be at the top of our lists and pre-planning what we will do, the night before when you do the Golden 10 minutes, and committing yourself to doing those tasks is the only way you are going to make it happen. There are no substitutes or quick fixes. You just have to do whatever it takes to make it happen and we all have that ability. Whether we choose to use that ability really does come down to us and out motivation for doing whatever it is we want to do.  Which is why having the right “why” for doing achieving you goals is so vital. 

I hope that answers your question, Alana and thank you for sending in your question. Thank you all for listening to this show, please subscribe to the show so you can have each episode delivered automatically to whatever app you are using to listen to podcasts. 

It just remains for me now, to wish you all a very very productive week.