Almost three months have passed since we turned our calendars to 2018 - 1/4 of the year is over! Can you believe it? At the end of last year, many of us reviewed the past 12 months and made a plan for the New Year. My process included setting areas of focus and then defining goals related to those. (Follow the links to previous posts for details.) I really think identifying broad areas of focus first is critical to your success. Some people do a word for the year, while others (like me) pick several. If you skip this step and just jump into making goals, they are often too broad and it becomes next to impossible to determine what actions to take to meet them. After identifying areas of focus, you can intentionally set several small, bite-sized goals within each category.
Though it's ideal to check in with yourself weekly (or at the very least, monthly), a quarterly review is key to assuring the direction you're going is the right one by making sure you're on track with your goals and tweaking them based on new information you've gained over the past three months. If you work in a job where you monitor a budget, you know how important quarterly reports are. They help you gauge how you're doing; give you insight into how well you planned; and allow you to make projections about the rest of the year. We can use these same concepts with our personal goals.
How are you doing?
Before pulling out the goals you wrote for yourself at the beginning of the year, simply write down your areas of focus and then take a few minutes to write down what you've done (or haven't done) in each area. It's interesting to see what stands out to us before looking at the specific goals we cranked out during the first week of January.
I wrote a few lines in my journal about each of my 2018 areas of focus (in alphabetical order so I can remember them):
Next, I read through my journal for the year so far. I'm not the kind of person who often uses 'journal' as a verb or keeps a regular and detailed account of my inner most thoughts and feelings, but what I have learned is that writing things down helps me process them and makes me feel a little lighter after putting them down on paper. I don't worry about it being neat or formatted, and many times my journal is just full of lists - what I need to do today, blog post ideas, home improvement projects, etc. I recently started making lists of 'wins,' and this is quite satisfying and has really helped me focus on the positive, which is sometimes hard for me to do because the negative is just so much louder! It's kind of cool to be able to look back at your wins - it shows you where your focus has been and gives you a snapshot of what really matters to you.
After this review, I pulled out the completed goal setting worksheet I did in January and read through it. Boy was I ambitious!! I had great ideas, and I have made some real progress, but there's still a long way to go! I suggest noting your progress (or lack thereof) right on your original goal worksheet. Pat yourself on the back for your successes!
How well did you plan?
After reading your high level thoughts, reviewing your journal, and noting your progress toward your original goals, you may have noticed that some of your goals don't really make sense anymore - and that's ok! Things change, you change, so your goals can change. Ask yourself five questions:
With all the information you've gained from the review so far, I suggest rewriting your goals remembering to make them specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time related. It's ok to have long range goals, but give yourself milestones or mini-goals so you can see progress. Set some expectations for yourself, because expectation is powerful. I recently began listening to the NPR podcast, Invisibilia. There was a very interesting episode about the effect others' expectations have on us. It got me thinking about how important our own expectations are for ourselves. I think it's really powerful to expect greatness from yourself - however you define that. Make some predictions for yourself about what you will have accomplished by the time you do this review again in three months. Write down at least one statement beginning with "In three months, I will have..." In three months, I will have lost 10 pounds; in three months, I will have made $XX in my business; in three months, I will have read 6 books; etc. You likely have goals related to these, like "walk 10,000 steps a day" or "make three contacts each week with new prospects" or "read 30 minutes before bed each night" that will help you realize your expectation. Review those "In three months, I will have..." statements next quarter - I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome!
This quarterly review may seem like a lot of work - but it's the fun part of all your efforts - seeing the fruits of your labor! It's also important so we don't continue on the wrong path. A few months ago when my old phone was on the fritz, my GPS stopped working reliably. I was on the way to an event, and I was relying on my phone's GPS turn-by-turn directions to get me where I was going. Instead of turning around when I had the first suspicion I was not on the right track, I just kept following what my GPS told me to do until I saw a sign that I was nearing an entirely different city than I was aiming for. I turned around and it took me more than twice as long as it should have to reach my destination. It's so much easier to adjust your course when you've gone just a little out of your way than it is to wait for the obvious signs that you are far, far away from where you should be. Check in with yourself and your goals often, and save yourself from having to do a U-turn!
A woman with many roles in life who knows the necessity of keeping things in order!