“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act.” – Picasso
I was recently asked to write a post about how I manage goals and why the methods I have chosen work for me. Well, I’ve always been a bit of a planner. When I was about twelve or thirteen years old, my life was ruled by lists, to the point of obsession. I had a “to-do” list, a “to-think-about” list, a list of all the important things I owned (really!), and the list goes on and on . . .
This was obviously not healthy, and with the help of my parents, I was gradually able to move away from the list obsession. It wasn’t until I started thinking about freelancing that I realized this tendency to write everything down in an organized format could be very beneficial.
When I talk to friends about setting goals, many of them say, “Wow, you’re so organized. I could never do that.” The truth is, while I’m naturally a planner, setting goals and mapping out a plan is something anyone can learn to do through practice and habit.
Figuring out a way to set and manage goals that worked for me was a process of trial and error. At first, I started out with five categories, as I’ve discussed in previous posts: financial, business, health, personal, and spiritual goals. Then I proceeded to fill out the categories with numerous goals, some huge and intangible, some very small and easily achievable. This eventually became too overwhelming, however, and I began paring the number of goals down to a handful in each category.
Now, I’ve finally settled into a method that works for me:
1) Assess monthly. At the start of every month, I spend a couple of hours alone reflecting on what I want to achieve in the month to come. Then I go over the previous month’s goals to assess which goals were met, which ones need to be carried over, and which ones actually aren’t worth pursuing at that point. Periodic assessment of your goals is vital – otherwise, how can you measure your progress?
2) Assess weekly. Every weekend, I map out my schedule for the week ahead. I don’t just include client projects and errands that need to be run – I also have my monthly goals close at hand and insert tasks into my schedule that I know will help me work towards these goals. I make sure to include items that can be easily checked off, to keep my momentum going, and also write down a couple of bigger-picture goals at the top of the page to remind myself of my larger vision during the week. Just like I do at the end of every month, I take time at the end of every week to assess my progress.
3) Repeat, repeat, repeat. I read my monthly goals every single weekday morning. This constant repetition helps keep them at the forefront of my mind and helps me focus my energy for the day. See my post on this topic: http://freelancingtofreedom.com/2012/04/30/more-goal-talk/
4) Break down big to small. Finally, I make time once a week to go over my big-picture goals, or “bucket list.” And I assess if I’m currently taking any steps in my day-to-day life that are moving me towards these goals. Actionable steps are key to meeting both small and large goals.
My method isn’t foolproof, and there are certain personal goals that I know I will likely work towards my entire life, but having what I want and need to do written down on paper in front of me and accessible at all times has helped me to stay focused in my business and in my life in general immensely.
And the great thing is, I don’t find it a chore. My goals keep me grounded in the moment and excited for the future.
What methods have you used to manage goals?
Song of the week: “Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl” – Broken Social Scene (an oldie, but I’ve been loving it lately)