WT 645 Rock

As we head towards the end of the year, most of us choose one path or the other:

  1. Start to wind down and reduce our focus on tasks, or
  2. Look towards next year and start planning for the year ahead.

This week I’ve been involved in planning for the year ahead with one of my clients.

We’ve been following a methodology which I thought I’d share with you.

You’ve most likely heard of Steven Covey’s “big rocks” analogy where he takes a container and fills it with small rocks and sand and then hasn’t got enough room for the big rocks vs filling the container with big rocks and filling up the gaps with smaller rocks and sand and water. The analogy being that the rocks are the most important tasks to be completed, in order to achieve a goal.

This methodology incorporates that analogy.

Start with the goal or outcome or end in mind. What is it that you want to achieve, by when?

Be very clear on this. Use the S.M.A.R.T. goal acronym to test the robustness of your goal, (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and to a Timeframe).

Then work out your Rocks, ie the tasks or milestones that need to be achieved by when.

Next, look to what Dr Fred Grosse calls “mooring lines” or another of my clients calls “pre-mortems”, where you identify the obstacles or things that could cause you not to achieve your goal.

Finally, identify solutions to mitigate the mooring lines. If you think about a post-mortem, investigators look to see what went wrong after the fact. With the mooring lines and pre-mortem, we are looking to see what could go wrong before the fact and prevent these as much as possible.

Here’s an example of a very common goal. Say you want to release some body weight.

Using the S.M.A.R.T. system:

Specific – release excess body weight

Measurable – 5kg

Attainable – yes

Realistic – yes

Timeframe – 3 months (depending on which dieting method you choose).


  1. Clean out the cupboard. Remove all junk food and chocolates and biscuits.
  2. Create a menu plan for your meals.
  3. Buy the appropriate food.
  4. Engage an accountability buddy, and so on.

Mooring Lines:

  1. It’s coming up to Christmas and party time. There’s lots of temptation.
  2. The accountability buddy doesn’t hold you accountable.


  1. Plan for the parties. Eat before you go. Know what you can eat at the party.
  2. Choose another accountability buddy, whom you trust to keep you on track.

Implement the plan. For some this is the hardest part. We plan, we mitigate the risks and then we just don’t put the plan into action.

Focus on the big rocks and follow the plan.

Let me know your goals, rocks, mooring lines and solutions.

What is it you want to achieve before the end of the year or for next year?

P.S. Invite your friends to get the Weekly Thoughts delivered directly to their inbox. Go to https://shirleydalton.com/weekly-thoughts.

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