FOCUS CARDS: Deal yourself a winning hand

FOCUS CARDS are an easy way to keep your goals front of mind plus help you identify what behaviours will facilitate success.

Here’s how they work:

1. Use small cards

Using small cards (I use 5 x 3”), write one goal per card.

Stack these cards where you are going to see them on a regular basis (i.e. on your desk, on your bedside table).

The small size of the cards means that you can’t get carried away with writing too much as there simply isn’t room.

Small cards are also easy to slip into your purse or wallet or sit on the dashboard of your car – constantly reminding you of your goal.

2. Allow for evolution

FOCUS CARDS are typically a “work-in-progress.”

Focus cards evolve over time.  The early versions tend to be generic and lacking in specifics (i.e. I want to get on better with my Manager).  As this focus card gets updated over time, it becomes more and more precise (i.e.  Manager relationship – 1.  Be safe for them so they feel they can trust you; 2.  Listen to what they say, rather than respond; 3.  Be easy to get along with; 4.  Follow their systems and processes).

The longer the card sits in front of you, the more likely you are to start asking yourself, “How am I going to achieve this?”  “What do I need to do/not do?”













The behaviours don’t need to be explained in full – just enough that you know what you mean.

Also write them in the positive frame (Describing WHAT TO DO), not just what not to do.

Here’s another example: Developing an Acme Company brand

This focuses me on the behaviours I have identified best align with my goals while at Acme Company.  My FOCUS CARD sits on my desk (without taking too much space) and is there as a reminder of what I want to achieve and the behaviours I have identified that will help me achieve it.

  1. Be safe for key personnel
  2. Be professional  (What is valued in this setting?  Is it being on time, tidy, easy to get along with, not embarrassing the boss?)
  3. Willing to learn – being open to feedback (including soliciting feedback and expressing appreciation for it – even if they haven’t been tactful in its delivery)
  4. Easy to get along with (What behaviours and statements convey this? i.e. saying “Happy to help…, being quick to act if someone asks you to help out with something)
  5. Honours Acme Company’s systems and processes – or doing things the way the boss likes them done

These will change with time as I learn more about the culture and what the line manager wants.

3. Go against the grain

The behaviours you list on your FOCUS CARD may not come naturally.

If you habitually are a talker who initiates and directs conversations, then the behaviour you list on your FOCUS CARD might be “great listener.”  This is to remind you that you have identified listening as being beneficial in the pursuit of your goal.  Or you might have noticed that you constantly “comment” on what is said or what is occurring around you.  A behavioural improvement might be to be an “enquirer” rather than a “commenter”.  Since you already know what you think, being an enquirer would help you find out what the other person thinks.

You don’t need to list the behaviours that come to you naturally, since you’re going to do them anyway.  The benefit comes from listing those behaviours that you need reminding to do.

4. Different behaviours in different life areas

You may identify different behavioural focuses for different goals.   However, you may also identify different behaviours for similar goals which are in different life areas.  For example, you might want to build better relationships overall, however the behaviours you identify for the workplace are likely to be different from those at home.  (i.e. workplace – verbally expressing appreciation for their help, family – giving them a hug and saying thanks).


And finally…

Each day quickly read through your focus cards to be reminded of WHAT – and HOW– you intend to achieve your goals.



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