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Interaction of Altitudes

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  • Interaction of Altitudes

    You don't DO Projects, you do Next Actions that are sub-parts of Projects.

    Similarly, you don't COMPLETE Areas of Responsibility, you complete Projects that are sub-parts of Areas of Responsibility.

    Has anyone thought about these relationships between whole and sub-part moving up the altitudes? For example, what's the relationship between Areas of Responsibility and Short-Term Goals? Or the relationship between Goals and Life-Purpose? Do the levels right next to each other always directly interact? Do Projects end up helping you work towards Goals or Life Purpose?

    I realize GTD isn't designed with these altitudes in mind, but joining the big-picture to the small-picture is a challenge for me. Does anyone have other literature to recommend that deals with this issue? (I've read Seven Habits.)

  • #2
    Originally posted by skyking162 View Post
    Do Projects end up helping you work towards Goals or Life Purpose?
    If they don't, why are you doing the project?

    Yes, goals/outcomes at each altitude are (or should be) supported by the outcomes/actions at lower altitudes.



    • #3

      While not strictly GTD, I've adopted a system that seems to work for me:

      You Do Next Actions in order to
      Complete Projects which help you
      Meet Objectives in order to
      Achieve Goals in each of your
      Focus Areas so that you can
      Fulfill your Life Purpose.

      In this way each level supports the next. One of the key things that GTD can force you to do is make decisions about what NOT to do. The higher altitudes help us make the key distinctions that are necessary to make those sometimes difficult decisions in life.

      The truth is that what we get out of life is often determined in key moments of making a big decision, but often in the day-to-day common moments of making small decisions about what to do right now. We have many choices some will take us where we want to go, most won't.

      The altitudes give us a mechanism for focusing at any level. At some point a valid question may be "Should I even be working on this project?" The answer may be no, or at least not now, so the project either gets the axe or someday'd... Of course if completion of the project is necessary for one of the key objectives you'll be measured on at work, then it probably is a pretty important project and needs to be completed. Assuming of course you're committed to your carreer in your current job and have career goals in place that require you to meet those key objectives. Those career goals are all collected under the "Career" focus area and should probably align with your overall life purpose.

      So in answer to your questions, I would say yes, they should interact, or perhaps more specifically be in alignment toward your higher life purpose. If they are out of alignment you get lots of bad stuff. If you are in alignment you get tons of amazing stuff.

      We know what next actions and projects are in a true GTD sense. And what I do incorporates that fully.

      The difference for me between projects and objectives are that Projects are the body of work (next actions) that must be done in order to complete the project. Several projects will be identified that are necessary in order to meet objectives. However, an objective should usually be stated as a lagging vs. leading indicator. In otherwords a project is on the cause side of the cause-effect equation, and the objective is on the effect side.

      The difference between goals and objectives is largely a matter of scale and time horizon. Objectives are typically completed in 1-3 months. Goals in 1 - 5 years... Currently in my career focus area, I have 4 goals; 18 objectives; and 51 active projects.

      I would recommend Tony Robbins TOYL audio program which offers a very good understanding of the higher altitudes. I don't recommend his software. Tony teaches a top down approach. I've found David's bottom up much more suited to my way of working, but outside of a few key distinctions the programs are quite similar and its relatively easy to take the two systems and combine them in a very effective way.