March has arrived. The first quarter of the year is almost over. I can’t believe how fast it’s flown. So, how are your New Year’s goals going?
You might have just asked what New Year’s goals. Don’t worry, I know how it goes. I go through the same process every year.
The part of writing goals is easy for me. I know what I want to accomplish and usually can find a ton of motivation when I’m writing them in December.
I make a beautiful list full of potential. And then mid-January arrives and my enthusiasm wanes. The list gets pushed aside (usually under a tall pile of papers). One (or more) children get sick. The shop gets busy with Valentine’s Day orders.
The goals list starts collecting dust. It is pushed further back into a dark corner never to see daylight again. You know which one.
And then, it’s suddenly November and all the trending talk is about goal setting for the upcoming year. You start to wonder whether you accomplished any of your goals for this past year.
Where did that goals list go anyway?
This is a typical timeline in my goal making cycle. I start with great intentions only to have them forgotten as life takes over.
The thing is that goals don’t accomplish themselves. They need to be constantly reviewed, steps revised and accomplishments celebrated.
This year I am approaching my goals list a little bit differently. Instead of shoving them aside right after they’ve been written, I am tracking their progress before the end of every quarter.
My hope is that by going over how I’m doing, I’ll be able to redirect course and make new steps to getting them accomplished.
So, this week I’m reviewing the major goals I made this year. I have seen some forward movement and am happy with my progress. By understanding the things that I’ve accomplished so far, I’ve been able to write a new list of smaller goals to tackle in the next quarter.
But, what should you do if you’re new at staying on track with completing your goals. Here are some tactics so you can stay on track to accomplish your goals this year (and feel like a true goal slayer by the end).
Breaking your goal into smaller milestones
Have you ever looked at a goal and thought not in a million years? This usually happens to me right after I write the goal down. I actually have found some of my biggest goals laughable. Secretly, I think to myself that there’s NO WAY I can accomplish that. Let alone this year.
The truth is your goals should be scary. Like really scary. Or they shouldn’t be goals. If you’ve written your goals correctly, they should look insurmountable on paper.
Your job is to make them into something you can conquer. In a set amount of time. The best way to do this is to create smaller milestones. Tasks within the bigger goal that can be benchmarks for your accomplishments.
For example, if your goal is to open an Etsy shop this year, that’s a huge goal. There are so many little things you need to do to get your shop open. Start focusing on those smaller to do items. They will lead you to the bigger goal in the end.
Write it down
Sometimes, in my lesser productive times in life, my to do list sits in my brain. I don’t even write it down. It gets muddled between the things we need at the grocery store and when the next sports practice is.
Not writing my to do list items down is one of the least productive things I can do. My brain can only remember so many things. And it’s top priority is losing those to do list items.
Create a to do list. You can make a weekly one, daily or even monthly. But know what you want to accomplish each day. You’ll be surprised how much more productive you can be with this simple task.
And physically write the tasks down. I find when I put to do items on my phone, I can too easily close the app and forget about them. Until the reminder comes up and then it’s usually too late.
Write your to do list items down on paper. Then you get the fun of crossing them off once they’re completed. And if you need something to write them down on, check out our free printable to do list. This Must Do list has brought so much more productivity joy in my life this year.
Choose just one or two
I am so guilty of this one – choosing too many goals at once. There are just so many things I want to accomplish each day, month and year. Narrowing it down to just a few important things is pretty hard.
When you look at the goals you want to actually do this year, pick the biggest and scariest. But just one (or maybe two). This will help you stay on track to accomplish this goal.
If you write down too many goals and start trying to accomplish the tasks for each, then you end up with too many to dos and less productivity.
But what if I accomplish my goal really quickly?
That’s really the point, isn’t it, to get the goal completed. If you are able to accomplish your goal, celebrate. You finished what you set out to do. Then, set another goal and work towards that one.
Goals are more easily finished when tackled one at a time. This is coming from the queen of multitasking. As much as I love working on several big projects at once (I think I get a high from the chaos), my most productive times are when I work towards each goal individually.
If your goal milestones have wait times between them – such as waiting for your web designers to complete your website or receiving feedback on your Etsy shop – then start working on your next goal. But, remember to go back to the original one. You don’t want to leave it undone.
Look at your calendar
Everyone’s lives are different. You might be a busy mom managing baseball season this spring. Or you stay home with your kids in the summer so work time is at a minimum.
Whatever your schedule holds, planning ahead is really important. Your goal will not get accomplished if you plan on working on time consuming milestones and there’s no time. (Once again, guilty.)
When looking at the milestones you wish to accomplish and your calendar, be realistic. Block out time to actually work on the steps that will get you to your goal.
Don’t just assume this time will happen. Because it won’t. And, if you’re not careful, you could spend an entire month with should haves instead of actually working towards your goal.
Develop good work habits
Pursuing your goals isn’t something that comes naturally for everyone. Sometimes, when a goal seems too big, my anxiety clicks on. I get sweaty, wringing my hands and pacing back and forth. You want me to do what?
I don’t always have the best of luck sticking to the process of accomplishing my goals. But I have found that setting aside a part of my day to work towards it can keep me on track.
Each day, I spend at least a half hour where all I do is work on my current goal steps. This part of my daily schedule has become a habit and one I really enjoy. I don’t even need to think about it or worry that I won’t have time to get my goals done – no matter how big they are. I know that my work towards my goal won’t go off track because there is the time blocked off to get there.
If you have difficulty finding work time every day, the one thing to start making progress on is your goals. By making this time a habit, every thing else with your business will start to fall in line. You will feel more accomplished sooner.
Track your progress weekly and monthly
Once upon a time, I used to write down a big goal and put it somewhere I could see it. It would sit in my office reminding me of its existence every day. And it would sit there. And sit there.
Finally, after many months of staring at this goal, I’d decide that I didn’t like that goal any more. I would blow the dust off and throw it out.
Then, I’d write another goal and the process would happen again.
Part of accomplishing your goals is to have check-ins along the way. Believe it or not, goals don’t get themselves done. They take work. Lots of hard work.
In order to get to the finish line, you need to take steps to get there. If you aren’t working on those steps each day and noting your progress, then your goal probably won’t ever be accomplished. And goals hate dust.
Be sure to track your progress weekly and monthly. On your to do list each week, write down at least one item related to accomplishing your goal. That way you know you’re working towards it.
At the end of each month, review your progress. Did you work on the steps needed to accomplish your goal? Did you get closer to the finish line?
Hold yourself accountable for your progress. Find something that motivates you to get things done and use that as your incentive.
It could be a Saturday afternoon spent binge watching Netflix, a morning of reading at the coffee shop or just a bubble bath. Whatever it is, choose an award that will bring you pleasure for everything you accomplished. It’s important to reward all of your hard work.
Find a mentor for support
If you find that you have difficulty staying on track with your goal, you might need a mentor to support you along the way. This person’s job is to check in with you, make sure you stay on track and give you a little push when needed.
You can choose a mentor that can meet with you in person or someone who is virtual.
I always find support in my business Facebook groups. Believe it or not, there are lots of other small business owners who struggle with this too.
Ask around. You might be able to find someone you can exchange roles with. You know, you check in on them and they check in on you.
Another idea, if you want someone more professional involved so you really stay on track, is to hire a coach. A goals coach will do everything from helping you write the goal, come up with steps to get there, encourage you along the way and make sure you reach the end in the right timeframe.
I’ve found, if you’re really serious about getting those goals done, that this can be the best way. Hiring an outside person who doesn’t have any stake on the result will push you further.
No matter what, don’t ask a friend. I know, you love working with people you already have a relationship with. The problem is that friends tend not to push very hard. They also don’t get mad at you when you fail. Their kindness is the reason you’re friends with them, but it’s a negative when it comes to getting you to accomplish your goals.
Goals can be pesky. They love to stare you down as you work on hundreds of other tasks that may or may not matter to growing your business. Goals are funny that way.
But, the reason we have them is to help us stay on track. They make us remember what’s really important – the things we should be working on that will get us ahead.
I recently read about how much time we actually spend working during an 8 hour work day. 3 hours. We only spend three short hours every day on our jobs. The rest of the time is used for pointless meetings, catching up by the water cooler and checking the funny video that our friend just posted on Facebook.
Now, think about how amazing our lives would be if we just spent those 3 hours focused on the job that we needed to do? We could be home by lunchtime!
Sadly, our world is very slowly catching up to this idea. But if you’re smart about working towards your goals just an hour or two a day, you can stay on track to accomplish them.
So every day, promise yourself that you’ll spend at least a few minutes working on the tasks to get your big goals completed. No matter how much they scare you. Just work on those tasks. And if have well written goals, you will be working on the most important things to move your business forward.
And don’t worry, it’s only the beginning of March. You still have 593 and a half hours left to work on completing your goals for the first quarter.