Category Archives for "Goal Setting"

January 25, 2017

Planning Your 2017 Calendar

Where is my life going?I teach a time management class called Going the Distance, and one of the major things we do after we write out our Goals Master List is to get out the calendar and start crossing out all the days that you know you can’t work.

Plan For What You REALLY Can Do
It might seem in December when the new year is looking bright and shiny and empty that you can get everything done you ever imagined! But when you look back over the last year, you may realize that you are often overconfident about what you can do.

Get a Calendar!
Being disappointed in yourself erodes your confidence for the next year, which erodes it for the following year, etc., and I want to help you keep that from happening. So this is what we’re going to do: go get a calendar. Any calendar will do, but one you like and can use easily will be the best one for you.

Cross Off Days You Can’t Work
Starting in January, cross off every day that you know you won’t be able to work on your goals. For instance, if weekends are always for family, cross off all the Saturdays and all the Sundays from the year. Your 365 days just came down to 261 –  poof! Just like that!

Do you have a vacation planned? Go find the dates on your calendar and cross them off. Do you have kids in school? Go find their school calendar and cross off days you know you won’t be available, like for sports and music and drama and other events that you’re committed to attending.

Weddings? Bridal showers? Baby showers? If you are just attending one of these, you might only lose a day or half a day. If it’s out of town, you may lose several days due to travel. If you are part of the planning committee, rest assured you will be spending more time than you realize, so try to plan accordingly.

s an important reminder of a major appointment

Plan For Sick Days and Mental Health Days
About how many days were you home sick last year? How many days were you taking care of someone else who was sick? Plan a few sick days into your calendar, subtracting them from the total days left but leaving them “available for use.” There is no point in feeling guilty about being sick, and we both know that a good rest will often get you back to work sooner and better than trying to work through it.

How many days have you got left? I often end up with only about 180. That’s only half a year! But the fact is, you have a life outside of your work and your goals. Now you can adjust your goals to accomplish them in the time you actually have. Planning this way will keep you from over-committing and being disappointed later.

Planning Forward
Now look at your list of the 5 to 10 goals you wrote down since last week. You can either plan forward or plan backward. To plan forward, look at each goal and figure out about how much you can accomplish per day on that goal. Then plot it out on your calendar to see what date that lands on. Put a sticky note on that date with the goal. The sticky note is so that when things come up, you can move the goal without scribbling all over your calendar.

Planning Backward
Or if you already have a goal date in mind, you can plan backward. Say you want to finish the first draft of your next book by May 1. How many days do you have left on your calendar, the ones that are not crossed out, between now and May 1? And how many words do you expect your first draft to be –  50,000 words? 100,000 words? Take the word count and divide by the number of days. This is your daily writing goal.

Planning this way from the beginning of the year can help you see if you started out with too many goals in the first place. And it will also help you to adjust as you go. (Again, that’s why I use sticky notes!) The fact is you are planning for your own success this way, instead of not truly planning at all. And you know the saying, failing to plan is planning to fail. Let’s not do that.

How Does Your Calendar Look Now?
Continue in this way, planning forward and/or backward for each goal, until you’ve plotted everything out on your calendar. Now look at each of the twelve months. Is it challenging but doable? Does it make you break out in a cold sweat? Do you need to move a few things around? Did you schedule in a little down time, “you” time?

Only you know what will encourage you and make your brain believe that you can do this. And you do need to believe it. If it seems just a bit much, move one of the goals that you plotted out onto your “maybe” list. If you get everything else done, you can come back to this goal later in the year.

Looking at your goals in a big picture like this will encourage you, and that will give you more energy to start now and keep going. Trust me, go do this exercise this week. You are going to feel like you can conquer your world! Good luck!

January 17, 2017

Easy Goal Setting for Everyone

Calendar with Start circled

Welcome to 2017!

It’s January, and you know what that means: time to plan your goals for the year. Right?

Don’t Be Discouraged!
Depending on how well last year’s goal setting went, this might be easier said than done. Maybe you’ve tried a lot of ways to plan and they haven’t turned out very well. The biggest thing to remember is to find a method that works for you.

I’ve been teaching a time management and goal setting class for the last eight or nine years (not this January, as I’m busy living and writing books in New Zealand!), and there are a couple of things I’ve found that seem to work for most people.

Write It Down
The first thing you need is a list. Write down every single goal you have for your life this year – personal, financial, spiritual, career or writing-related – anything at all, write it down. This is your Goals Master List.

It may take you a day or a week to get everything written down, but once you think you’ve got it all, go through and circle the five most important goals. These will be your Primary Goals for the year.

Now go through and underline the next five most important goals. These will be your Secondary Goals for the year.

Move Some Goals to Next Year
Look at the rest of the items on your Goals Master List. Does it seem like there is more than you can do this year? Let me give you a hint: the answer is almost always yes. If there is anything that you are willing to put off until next year, get another piece of paper and move these onto your 2018 Goals Master List.

Now you have your primary goals, your secondary goals, and your extra goals. The idea is that you will work on your five primary goals first, and when they are accomplished you will work on your secondary goals. Then, if you get all of your primary and secondary goals accomplished this year, you’ll work on your extra goals.

Rearrange Some Goals
If, when looking at your lists, you feel like this won’t work for you, then you probably need to move some of your goals around. That doesn’t mean adding more than five to the primary or secondary lists, but simply exchanging one goal for another more important one.

Congratulations! You have your 2017 goals list!

Fewer Goals, Better Chance You’ll Achieve Them
Another way to do this, which arguably might be more achievable, is to look at your goals master list and choose no more than 7 to 10 goals for the whole year. That’s it. You can work at each of them a little at a time or work at one all the way through, it’s up to you. If you want, you can choose two or three extras that you will begin working on only when you finish the most important 7 to 10 goals.

Go back to your original goals master list and try the second method. Now look at both final lists. Which one speaks to you more? Which one excites you more? That’s the one you should type up and print out.

Or if you’re feeling artistic, rewrite it with colored pencils and pens and stickers and make it beautiful.

A Daily Reminder to Keep You on Track
Post it on your wall, someplace where you’ll see it often, and make sure to look at it every day.

If you haven’t started your goal setting for this year, or if you feel overwhelmed by the thought of it, or the thought of failing to achieve your goals, give this a try.

Then post a comment below or send me an email and let me know how it went. I know you can do this!

I’m super excited about 2017. It’s going to be a great year!

[Next week: Planning Your 2017 Calendar]