The Art of Getting Things Done – Q-Goals

Q-Goals is the term I give to 90-day goals, because three months (one quarter) is a short enough time span as to not be too overwhelming, but long enough to allow meaningful progress to be accomplished.

Q- Goals are the bridge between your Big Goals and your daily to-do list. Today, I’ll share six steps from my formula for setting and achieving Q-Goals (and my thanks to my friends at Auto-Owners Insurance, who have helped me think in new ways about setting and achieving Big Goals).

Think Big, Start Small:
This principle applies not only to goals and dreams themselves, but also to the process of setting and achieving those goals and dreams. Get into the habit of working with Q-goals by beginning with goals that you are certain you can achieve. As you develop the discipline, you will find yourself almost automatically raising the bar and increasing the scope of what you expect of yourself each succeeding quarter.

Write and review: Write your Q-Goals down and post them where you will see them every day, many times during the day. Put a copy on the bathroom mirror, keep a copy in your wallet, put a copy on the seat of your car. If you read every book that’s ever been written on the setting and achieving of goals, they’ll all have their own different approaches, but every single one will insist on this one universal principle – write them down.

Correlate activities and goals: Every morning, or better yet every night before you go to bed, review your to-do list for the next day in juxtaposition with your Q-Goals listing. For each item on your to-do list, ask yourself whether and how it will help you achieve a Q- Goal. Most of will fall into the trap of the Pareto Principle (the 80-20 rule) and at least eight out of ten to-do activities will have nothing whatsoever do to with achieving our Q-Goals.

Highlighting those Q-Goal relevant to-do items and committing your time to them first thing in your day will be one of the most important things you can do to assure their achievement.

Create an Accountability Board: Ask a small number of people you know, trust and respect to help you hold yourself accountable for achieving your Q- Goals. For example, you might send the members of your Board a short written progress report at the end of each month.

Not only will this be a source of motivation for you to do the things necessary to be proud of what you say in that report, over time you will find that the members of your Advisory Board begin to share ideas, contacts and resources that can help you achieve your Big Goals.

Make it emotional: Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover, says that the people who are most certain to achieve their goal of getting out of debt are those who attack the problem with incredible emotional intensity.

This is true not only for financial goals – it’s true for achieving almost anything that is worthwhile but difficult. You can perhaps set goals with left brain logic, but to achieve them requires the inspiration of right brain passion (as I often say in my speaking engagements, the left brain counts but the right brain matters).

Celebrate: Celebrate the achievement of your Q-Goals in some appropriate way. If you only hit 90% of your target, celebrate anyway. Chances are that without having harnessed yourself to those Q-Goals, you would have achieved far less. So celebrate – then write down your Q-Goals for the next quarter.

Joe Tye is president of Paradox 21 Inc., which provides corporate training and culture change initiatives based on a proprietary curriculum of The Twelve Core Action Values of Personal Leadership Effectiveness. He is also the author of several books and audio programs on personal, career, and business success, and a popular motivational speaker. Visit

2 thoughts on “The Art of Getting Things Done – Q-Goals

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