It’s that time of the year where everyone is starting off with the best of intentions. Resolutions, goals, and visions are the focus. You are feeling positive about what the changes and intentions you have set for yourself. I know I am.
Our goals excite us at the beginning. They are shiny, and maybe new. The start of the new year gives us hope that we can reset things and that this time things will be different.
REALITY SETS IN
Up until several years ago this is what would happen-I would go all out and by the end of week three (maybe) I would lose my focus. Yes, I had things swimming in the back of my head but they did not stay on my radar for very long. Is this how it works with you?
Or, I would start working diligently and get overwhelmed by what I wanted to do because I kept seeing the final product only. And so I would not take any action since I would let myself think that it was too hard or challenging to get it done. I would get overwhelmed. Have you experienced this?
Before, when the end of the year would arrive and I would look at overall goals, if I did not achieve them I would beat myself up. I would feel like a failure and wonder what I had done with my time and energy.
I was defining success in only one way and not feeling good about what I had accomplished. I had to change how I tracked my level of success because I was thinking in absolutes.
When I began to treat my goals like projects I got more done. The funny thing is that professionally I would break down project goals, identify milestones and determine specific strategies. This was a skill I already had. I functioned this way at work. I had no problem applying this mindset in a professional setting but I was not applying it intentionally to my personal life.
When I began to think of each goal as having it’s own path, I became more successful. Once I started tracking things in more concrete terms, I was able to acknowledge and celebrate that I was much closer to my goal at different points throughout the year.
I would like to share with you a process that has helped me be and feel more successful each year in achieving what I want.
The process helps you identify milestones, deadlines, and the order of steps. Additionally, it provides a reality check because when you see the different components you begin to realize that items have to be spread out over time. The nice thing about it is that it that you can use it for any project (e.g., party, trip, meeting, etc.) in your life-I do!
STEPS TO TAKE
Supplies: regular size paper (several sheets), sticky notes in several colors (at least three), a pen/pencil, and a calendar.
After you have identified your goals:
- Write each goal on a sticky note (TIP: use one color for the goals).
- Brainstorm the different actions that you have to take to accomplish the goal. Don’t worry about identifying all of the steps. As you take action you will learn about additional steps. Write these down on separate sticky notes (TIP: use a different color from the goals and use the same color for the steps).
- Create sticky notes labeled daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly. (TIP: Use a different color for the timeframe). Put the timeframe on separate sheets of paper.
- Look at your brainstormed actions and move the notes to the relevant timeframe.
- Take your notes and assign deadlines. Look at what is on your calendar and consider what can you complete within each timeframe. Determine what steps happen first, second, etc. Move the notes as necessary.
- Take action. Modify the calendar or add steps as necessary.
- Mark the items as you complete them.
- Rinse and repeat!
When you look at the notes that are checked off you will be motivated to continue moving forward. Second, although you may not be done, you will know that you are much closer to where you want to be because of the steps that you have taken. And, if your goal is not very concrete, you can more easily identify what you have been doing when you wonder about how you are spending your time.
If pen and paper is not your thing, there are several online project-tracking products (Asana, Freedcamp, and Insightly). They are available for free, can be used individually, and you can track tasks by individual project. Most importantly, you can access them via cell phone; so can easily add a task any time. After you complete the above steps enter this information into the system and get going.
Your turn: What helps you accomplish your personal goals?
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