What is “Compressed Time” and How Can it Help You Achieve Your Goals?

Image of sign that reads: "Goal, Plan, Action"

Goal setting is a fairly easy thing to do. Goal attainment, however, is another story. Scott Reistad, BA, RRT, CPFT, FAARC, gives this example of how goals can often derail in our lives —

Bob’s dream is to become a music producer. He goes to school, studies hard, and graduates top of his class. Bob already knows that the music industry is difficult to “break in” to, so he takes a job as a house painter while sending out resumes. Bob begins to make a great income as a house painter, as he takes pride in his work and is accountable in the details. More and more business comes his way. He hires others to help him. Suddenly, 20 years have gone by and Bob realizes that his dream of being a music producer has disappeared, as he has “settled for” a job versus pursuing his dream.

According to Reistad, a concept called “compressed time” can help people like Bob see their goals through to fruition. It all starts with understanding the difference between long-term goals and the short-term goals needed to go the distance.

“Long-term goals are born out of short-term goals,” Reistad said. “Short-term goals are born from daily action steps. It is not possible to achieve long-term goals without the accomplishment of short-term goals.” The concept of “compressed time” leads the goal seeker toward the ultimate goal by setting out a clear path with defined steps that must be taken along the way to reach the final objective – often in record time too.

For example, let’s say your goal for 2021 is to become an ACLS instructor. Using “compressed time,” he suggests the following this 12-week plan of action to get from point A to point B —

  • Week 1: Read about the requirements to be an ACLS instructor. Talk to current ACLS instructors as to what is needed/helpful.
  • Week 2: Through your research, it seems that it would help to first be a CPR instructor. Investigate where you can take CPR classes. Register. Get the materials. Begin studying.
  • Week 3: Attend the CPR Instructor class and successfully pass the course. Register for the ACLS.
  • Weeks 4-5-6: Sign up to teach CPR classes and fulfill the requirements to earn the designation of CPR Instructor. Get the ACLS materials and begin studying.
  • Week 7: Take the ACLS course and successfully pass. Immediately sign up for the ACLS Instructor class.
  • Week 8: Study the ACLS Instructor materials.
  • Week 9: Take the ACLS Instructor class and successfully pass.
  • Weeks 10-11-12: Immediately sign up to teach ACLS classes and fulfill the requirement to earn the designation as an ACLS Instructor.

By working through these smaller, weekly goals, you will have reached your ultimate goal in just 12 weeks.

“You have simply ‘compressed’ them into a shortened time frame versus plodding toward them over an entire year,” Reistad said.

The concept works for goals you set in other areas of your life too, and Reistad offers a good example from his own life as proof —

A number of years ago, my oldest son gave me the “gift” of a Tough Mudder registration for Christmas. For those of you unfamiliar with the Tough Mudder, it is an endurance contest that is typically about 12 miles long, coupled with about 25 obstacles such as crawling under barbed wire through the mud, jumping into ice-cold water, climbing up and over obstacles, and even running through dangling wires where you receive electrical shocks!

First of all, not sure this was a “gift,” as I thought he was trying to kill me! The part of the story that you don’t know is that I was not a runner, let alone able to complete any of the physically challenging obstacles, as I would be described best as a “couch potato.” However, I love my son, so I said I would do it.

On the Tough Mudder website I found a number of training regimens, depending on how many weeks out the competition was. I chose the appropriate one and simply began doing the daily workouts listed. To be honest, it wasn’t that much fun — and many times I felt as if I would not be able to do it — but I simply kept plodding forward. When race day arrived, I easily, and successfully, finished the race.

Not in record time, but I did finish.

If I would have simply looked at the “big goal” of running the Tough Mudder, I never would have done it. But because I simply looked at the daily steps instead, I was successful.

So, as you set your goals for 2021 — career and otherwise — consider applying the “compressed time” concept to the task. According to Scott Reistad, you will be surprised how much easier they are to accomplish, and how much quicker you reach them!

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