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Making your goals happen

Hi! I’m taking the time next week to look back over the last three months and look ahead to the next

Work in Progress

June 29 · Issue #41 · View online
The newsletter about work

I’m taking the time next week to look back over the last three months and look ahead to the next three – my quarterly review. A quarter is the perfect length of time to devote to a project or commit to trying something new. It’s also great for checking in on your goals for the year, if you’ve set them. 
This was a bit of a weird quarter, what with everything going on in the world and the continual need to adapt how I work. (Not to mention going from a family of three to a family of four!) But I got quite a bit done, too. I just didn’t always notice at the time. Sitting down for a quarterly is great because there’s always some accomplishment or lesson I’d forgotten all about.
Even if you’ve never done a quarterly, give it a try this week. Put an hour or two on your calendar today. You can find my step-by-step process for getting started here. Plus a few pointers for making your goals happen:

The more concrete you make your goals and your plans, the more likely they’ll pan out. But there’s more that helps. Here’s what you can do today both to support yourself while pursuing your goals, and to up the odds of meeting them.
  • Limit what you take in. Every day, we’re swamped with information. Some of it’s useful, but a lot just isn’t. Go through your newsletters, podcasts, and other subscriptions today and clean house. Consider parking certain social media accounts for a while, or stop using them entirely. Ask yourself: What value does this platform have for me? Do the benefits outweigh the time and attention it takes?
  • Reward your desired behavior in advance. Want to spend less time on your phone and more with your partner or children? Then make sure you can look forward to what you want to be doing. Reading a bedtime story is more fun if it’s a book you like, too. If you’re into games, then update your collection by trading with friends and neighbors or investing in something new. When it comes to your workspace, replace what’s broken or causes you regular frustration. Simple things: I recently bought a bag for my camera. The parts used to be scattered all over the house, and now I actually enjoy putting them away.
  • Strengthen your support crew. How can you involve other people in your plans? When I asked my accountability partner Derk to help me reach my writing goal of “hitting 30,000 words this quarter,” he made me a poster so I could trace my progress. Ask friends and family if they’ll help keep you on track. Think about expanding your crew, too. What new people or tools can help? If you’re serious about that new fitness plan of yours, then see if you can find someone to join you. Having a partner in crime helps keep you motivated on off-days. And besides, it’s more fun than going it alone.
  • Decide now when you’ll check in. The reason I set goals for every 3 months instead of the full year is simple. A goal I’m excited about in January can be less exciting by late February. A finish line in December is then too far away. I set the deadline for 3 months away (March 31 in that case) so the end is in sight. But that, too, can prove too far in the future. So each week in my Friday recap, I take a look at my quarterly goals and think up the next step for each. If you want goals to stop being dreams, and start being those things you actually make happen, find a way to set eyes on them each week. Or at least every other week.
And finally: Nothing saps motivation like setting a goal and then realizing, just one month in, there’s no way you’re going to make it. Get used to the idea that you’ll have to alter your target at times. Cutting ambitious plans in half may deflate you temporarily, but the alternative is often to abandon them altogether. And who wants that?

Have a good week!

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