Manage Goal Overload

If you are not careful, your wins will expand exponentially over time and they will become a crushing weight.

The default under normal circumstances is that priorities fall off your radar over time, not because they are completed and not necessarily because they are no longer priorities. Just because, as humans, it is easy to forget things. We all struggle with recency bias.

The beauty (and the curse) of HabitStack is that it never forgets a commitment. Overall, this is a very good thing because it encourages a longer term focus on things that will pay off big eventually.

However, as your thinking develops and as new priorities emerge, you tend to add more and more wins to HabitStack. The system then faithfully prompts you for supporting wins for that newly added win plus all of the wins that were already there.

Eventually, you realise that you are resenting your strategic wins. They are impossible to keep up with and you don't even believe that they are all that important anymore.

The problem is compounded by another feature of the HabitStack method. One of the key habits it encourages is a commitment to hit goals as stated and on time. The system has no power without this hunger. As such, it is easy to feel guilty about deactivating wins mid-stream instead of powering through to complete them.

Here are some tips on how to manage these tensions:

Plan With Care

When planning a set of supporting wins, ask yourself:

  • Is this set of wins sufficient to keep the parent win on track?
  • Is each win strictly required? Or are any a "nice to have"? Over-achieving on a win feels nice, but often comes at a cost to other priorities.
  • Is there a shorter path? E.g. Is there a win that, although it may take more courage, would require less effort to achieve the parent win?

Re-Plan With Care

If you add a win mid-stream, consider removing a win to compensate. Let's assume you thought carefully about how many quarterly wins to add at the beginning of the quarter. Why do you think you can just add an additional win half way through the quarter without adjusting the others? Did you have that much slack when you set up the wins in the first place? Probably not!

Remove Dead Wins

Every month, reflect on your entire Execution Funnel. Do you still believe that it represents your priorities? If not, re-write, deactivate and add wins until it does. Any gap between your actual priorities and your written priorities will kill your enjoyment and discipline.

However, keep yourself honest:

  • Am I removing this win because I've realised it is wrong or because it has gotten hard? Keeping up your strategic discipline is supposed to be hard work!
  • Am I just succumbing to the "tyranny of the urgent"?

Big Picture

If your wins are starting to feel like a crushing weight instead of a healthy challenge, you've got to make changes. You won't be able to gut it out over the long term without a positive emotional relationship with your strategic priorities.

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