Can you believe it? It seems like yesterday; we were drafting our New Year’s Resolutions and talking to friends about our goals for 2017. I read something the other day that said, “A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.” So, my two questions for you are:
1 - Are you dreaming or planning?
2 – Do you have a plan, and is it effective?
One of the biggest barriers to reaching our personal and professional goals is how we choose to manage our lives.
Here are four simple key strategies for personal and professional goal setting:
- Make the Invisible Visible – Write it Down!! There is no way that you can keep your appointments or goals (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly) in your head. This could mean use your Smartphone calendar, purchase a traditional agenda, or create a “To Do List.” When you write things down, you provide yourself with the ability to visualize your life. This allows you to create a path for your own life to “make it fit.” I love a free app called Wunderlist. It helps to create efficiency, and “to-do” lists can be shared with multiple people using multiple devices. I use if for everything from my grocery list to planning for a major project in my department.
- Create Checkpoints – You set a goal in January that you want to reach by May…It’s February…are you on track? The old saying, “What gets monitored, gets done” comes to mind. To truly reach goal attainment, it’s important to create personal checkpoints for yourself. It’s so easy to set a goal, but what happens? It falls off our radar, and then we become discouraged. By creating personal checkpoints, the monitoring becomes easy. So, if we think about this like baseball, set three bases and the final stop is home plate. Write down the exact date that you will reach First base, second base, and so on. These are the points where you will self-evaluate your progress. If you really want to check yourself, choose an accountability partner. Ask that person that you know will keep it real with you to hold you accountable. Give her your exact dates for reaching your 3 bases and home plate, and have her follow-up with you!
- Pause & Self-Reflect – Each time you reach a checkpoint, complete a week on your list, take a moment to pause and self-reflect. Again, write it down… What worked? What didn’t? What distracted you? What gave you the most peace? Use this feedback to adjust your lifestyle to best fit your life with purpose. Life happens while we are living it so if we don’t take time to pause and self-reflect, we will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.
- Remix, Reinvent, and Repeat - In order to reach your personal goals, you must be willing to truly refine your practices and behaviors. Practice makes perfect so after you reach home plate, it’s time to Remix and Repeat. Use your notes from your self-reflection to adjust your routine, tweak your schedule, and change your behavior to create your next cycle of goals. If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan…not the goal. By repeating this 3-Step Cycle, you learn discipline, strengthen your character, and ultimately, reach your goals. Remember, we are all works in progress, but with true planning, we hold the key to making our dreams come true.
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