Roving Aimlessly?

Nine months to go, but who’s counting?  Were the months of January and February a complete blur for you too?

For all the talk (and writing) about goal setting, the reality is that the first few months of the year are often filled with cleaning up after December. Then, of course, there are the usual Q1 distractions, like sales conferences, performance reviews, quotas and marketing launches.  And if you live in New England, getting through winter includes planning an early spring get-away to warmer climates. The best-made plans already feel at risk and it’s easy to understand how our goals and resolutions get thrown to the wind.

It’s right about now that you may give in to the fear that this year won’t, in fact, be different. You respond by continuing to run full speed ahead – toward what, you’re not sure.  Like a dog dashing out the door at warp speed, activity feels good as the adrenaline continues to fuel the pace.  And, then, suddenly, you look up and realize you’re a long way from home.

Perhaps you fear that slowing the pace will somehow diminish your ability to succeed. Yet, ironically, slowing the pace is what allows us to see the road ahead more clearly – or to recognize when we’ve strayed from home – enabling us to get back on course, or change direction completely.

If you’ve found yourself running amok already this year, fear not.  Here are some tried and true techniques for getting and keeping your goals front and center for the next nine months:

  1. Hit Reset: Revisit what you set out to do at the beginning of the year and condense your goals to a bulleted list of your top five to seven only.  Any more than that, you won’t take the time to do what comes next.
  2. Make Visible: Print them out, write them on a 3 x 5 card, or keep readily handy on your mobile device.
  3. Morning Review: Review your list each morning.  Build this into your planning time (which you have dutifully set aside) when you begin your workday.  It’ll take five to seven minutes (one minute per goal).  Ask yourself if your schedule is set up optimally to help you move the needle on each goal.  If not, change your schedule, or if’ it’s too late to make a change in today’s calendar, note that for future commits.
  4. Reality Check: Set an alarm on your mobile device for two times during the day (mid morning and mid afternoon).  When the alarm goes off, ask yourself two questions:

a. “Is what I’m doing the most important thing I can do right now to help me achieve my goals?”

b. If not, what do I need to do to optimize my time going forward?

5. End of Day Debrief: At the end of the day, allow yourself 10 minutes to reflect on the day’s accomplishments, and tee up your priorities for the next day.

6. Rinse and repeat.

As you have likely noted, I’m a big fan of honoring time to reflect each day.  Taking time to reflect provides the necessary space to plan and choose how to spend the most precious commodity we have … our time.   If you’re not consciously planning how you spend your time, you may end up running rip shod, like a dog that breaks free from the backyard.  None of us wants to spend another year roaming the countryside and not making good on our goals and commitments.

When I find myself roving aimlessly, this time management model (popularized by Stephen Covey), brings me “home,” and reminds me of what is really important.

Feel free to download and keep it handy for your own use.

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