Do you ever get that feeling like you’re sleepwalking through your day. Maybe another commitment, the weather or even a foul mood has made you unproductive? Well, that was totally me today. I skipped my morning workout due to the rain, even though my husband said I’d look like a badass Nike ad if I went running, and now it is past noon and none of my ‘to do’s’ are checked off.
It started on my way back from dropping the kids off at school. I was listening to the news and no surprise, there was a sad story. Some days bad news affects me more than other days and it can really bring me down, like today, and that can lead me to just lose interest in just about everything – except Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram…and napping. To be honest it usually starts with not getting to bed at a decent time the night before. It’s a vicious cycle!
That’s why today I’m going to tell you about a great strategy I use; which works great, when I actually use it!
It’s called a personal business plan and you can utilize this even if you’re not running your own business or your kid’s business, just to keep yourself moving forward. There are a lot of great tools to use like paper planners and bullet journals or electronic resources like online calendars and productivity tools. I’ll list what I use at the end but use a system that works for you. They key is to do it consistently and when you forget, don’t stress, just start again.
Now, even though it’s now the end of January this will definitely give you a kick in the butt if you feel like you are starting to sell out on yourself and the goals you started the year with. Personally, my plan starts before the beginning of the calendar year, and I do this with the whole family present…usually trapped in the car with me on one of those holiday car trips. I act as secretary writing it down in the front of my new journal for the year and everyone has a turn answering #1 before we move on to #2. It takes all four of us about an hour. Usually I have last year’s journal and sometimes we compare answers year over year. You can do this at any point in the year to help reassess how things are going, but for the purposes of this article, let’s go with the beginning of 2019.
- First we do “What Went Well Last Year?” This can be in any area of your life, there are no wrong answers and the list can be as long as you like but no less than 5 things. Some people like to put something for each area of your life: Personal, Romantic, Business, Health, Spiritual, Recreation, and Financial. (At the end I put a link to an article aimed at kids that has 10 areas.) If you google the “Wellness Wheel” you’ll see lots of examples. Choose to do any or all of them. Focus on whatever makes you feel good about your last year.
- Then we do “What Did We Learn?” This is just a positive way to review things that didn’t go as well as we would have liked, but focus on what insights you gained not the unfortunate experience. Again you can use the 7 areas but we usually try to only pick around 3 things because the goal of this is to stay focused on the wins.
- Now we look forward “What is My Dream for this Year?” It is important to have something that you’re working toward. I like to have one what one of my mentors called a “Breakthrough” goal. This is something that is a challenge but achievable if you put your energy and intention behind it. This is the thing that would make the upcoming year the BEST YEAR you’ve ever had!
- Still dreaming about the future we ask “What Do I Want to Accomplish in _____ Area of My Life? Usually we look at a couple of the areas of our life and set year-long goals in the top 2 or 3. You can go wild and do all 7-10 areas but for me I find that it is just overwhelming and we wouldn’t never finish the plan. The kids just don’t have that kind of attention span and I want it to be an enjoyable and educational experience for everyone. A great side-effect is that we learn a lot about each other.
- Setting SMART goals is the next step. SMART is an acronym that means:
- S) Specific
- M) Measurable
- A) Achievable
- R) Relevant
- T) Timely
- It is really important that you use this technique because it makes it very easy to start taking steps toward your goal and see that you’re making progress. This is a very common technique so if you need more examples then just search the internet and you’ll find plenty. In the interest of time we limit it to 2-3 things max.
- Then we ask “What Resources Do I Need To Succeed? It’s really great to do this exercise all together because as a family we always need each to reach our goals and everyone feels invested in helping the other succeed. We talk about what is the most important thing, so we can choose where to spend money and if there is an activity that we can eliminate to keep the schedules manageable.
- Finally, I flip to January (or whatever month is next in your life) and I write down the next step that needs to be taken for each of the goals. I pick a different day for each one and put it on that day’s action item list. I can usually only get 1 or 2 extra things done in a day, outside of the work and household efforts that must get completed, so I don’t overload the day. My kids are getting old enough now to help, so I also give them activities (age appropriate) that help them reach their goals.
- This is an ongoing system so the last week of each month we look ahead to the next month. The last day or so of each week we look ahead to the next week and at the end of each day we look at the following day. Nothing is set in stone and we adjust as needed.
- Remember to be Grateful and reflect on what went well each month, week and day. It doesn’t have to take more than a moment, like right before bed or after school. There are gratitude journals that work this into the design if you like to write it down, but we usually just say it out loud to each other.
- Forgive yourself. While it is important to plan and write it down, we are all going to have days that veer off track, like today did for me. Stop that negative self-talk the moment it starts and find something positive to say about yourself. Then do something for yourself, go for a run, take a nap, read a book, whatever it is…but then pick yourself up, redouble your efforts and start again.
This is the way I do it, and it is specifically streamlined to work with my kids and busy family schedule. There are many goal setting plans and even workshops or groups if you like the community or enjoy having your own personal life coach. I have tried it many different ways and this simplified version is what works for me. I’ll list some resources of things I tried and enjoyed below but you need to find the best way for you.
The main thing is to set aside the time daily, weekly and monthly to put your intentions down on physical or electronic paper with a deadline and hold yourself to it the best you can. Let it become a habit.
Gratitude is one of the most important facets of this strategy that works for us. I like to focus on the positive more than the negative because I feel that regret is not a useful emotion to ruminate in. I’d rather use my energy to move forward. I try to remind the kids (and myself) to be grateful whenever possible, like in the car on the way home from school, at dinner, after watching a movie or reading a story that lends itself to discussion. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, just make it a small part of every day.
We avoid listing goals about things that are going to happen anyway, like the laundry. I know I’m going to do the laundry, I need to have a clean shirt… so, it doesn’t go on the goal setting list.
I heard someone say once, that reaching your goals is like sailing, you set your destination and then you adjust your course based on the wind and waves. Usually reaching your goal isn’t a straight line and you can’t know the future, so your best bet is to include the flexibility to alter course into the plan.
Good luck and I hope that you have an amazing year!
What I used to stay organized:
- “Your Best Year Yet” by Jinny S. Ditzler
- “The Right Brain Business Plan” by Jennifer Lee
- Goal Setting with Kids
- Career Coaching with Shawn Tolleson
- Google Calendar (Free with google account) Great for sharing goals and action items with family.
- Trello.com Free for individuals, costs money for groups) It is a Kanban style organizer.
- Mind Node (Free with in app purchases) Fun for brainstorming.
- My blog for examples of our goal setting for acting, etc…