A couple of years ago, I started using a July – June calendar. I have always loved that feeling on January 1st of entering a brand new year full of possibilities. I get the same feeling of potential and anticipation when I look at a brand new calendar that starts on July 1st.
As I fill in activities and notes on my new calendar, I also get the chance to assess how things are going so far in the year. I can look at the goals I set in January and ask myself what progress I have made. If the answer is none to little, I know that I have some work to do.
Goals are a great way for people to challenge themselves to accomplish the things they want. But setting a goal without doing more is like leaving a recipe on the kitchen counter then expecting a full meal to be ready the next time I walk into the kitchen. It just isn’t going to happen without some effort on my part. There are a couple of lessons I have learned about goal setting.
1. A goal needs to be attainable.
If my goal is for my whole family to go white water rafting but one of my children is petrified of water, my goal is not feasible. Setting an unattainable goal is a sure formula for failure so it is important to make goals can be accomplished.
2. Create an action plan.
Think through all the steps needed to meet the goal. If the goal is to write more, the action steps may look like this:
- identify a dedicated writing space in my home
- set up the dedicated writing space
- clear out the space
- bring in a small table and chair
- bring in a supply of notebooks and pens (I like to write my first drafts out in long hand)
- mark off a time to write everyday
- let family know I am not available during writing time
- set a reminder (calendar, cell phone alarm, etc) for writing time
Mid-year is a great time to check in on how the goals are going. If the answer is everything is great, then keep up the good work! But often the answer is that progress has stalled. Take a few minutes to identify the challenges and see if changing the action plan can help.
In the writing goal example, perhaps there are too many distractions at home to be able to write. Instead of giving up the goal of writing more, the action plan can be changed to reserving a work space or small meeting room at the local library in order to write outside of the home. By evaluating progress toward goals, changes can be made to move toward success even if it means changing goals.
One of my goals for this year was to blog more regularly. At the end of 2017, a close family member died. Since then I have not been as creative as I would like to be. I just did not want to write, draw, paint or create at all. I filled my time with other things so my grief would not flow into my writing. I was not ready to go there. Which leads to ……
4. Stuff happens.
That’s the other thing about goals. Sometimes life happens and plans are interrupted. A personal crisis occurs. Work responsibilities shift. You have to move from what you thought was your forever home. It is so easy to feel guilty for not being able to handle whatever is going on. I know that I am my worst critic. But it is ok to be kind to ourselves. To understand the we all need time to adjust. Often, our goals are still attainable. Maybe there needs to be a new timeline. Maybe the goal needs to be modified. Keep at it. Every day is a new opportunity to work toward a goal.
As I look to the second half of 2018, I am doing my self check in. I am asking:
- Is this an attainable goal?
- Did I think out the actions steps I need to accomplish my goal?
- Am I working through the action steps?
- Do I need to modify my goal?
- Do I need to eliminate this goal ?
- Is there a different goal that would serve me better?
And I am giving myself a fresh start where I have stalled.
Happy Mid-Year! Wishing you a sense of renewal and wonder for what is yet possible in 2018!