In this season of reflection of the past year and planning for the new year both in my personal and professional life, I found myself overwhelmed and asking God for help. There are so many things to do, choices to make, and it’s all changing so fast. How do I know which move is the right move? What progress did I make this year and was it the right progress? Having just been through this, and celebrating some successes, I wanted to share some perspective on both which I hope will be helpful!
At work we are in the midst of making big internal changes, while at the same time trying to keep pace with all of the external changes (economic, competitive, industry, etc.) It can be overwhelming. We find it easier to work on urgent things (short term, tactical things that come up) and ignore the important things (long term, strategic to dos). In my sales role it might look like going a week without actively prospecting because I was too busy reacting to emails or sitting in meetings. Pretty soon my opportunities are dried up and I’m missing my goals.
If we aren’t purposeful about working on important things before they are urgent we might get things done, but they are not the right things, and worse they could be contradictory to what we need to do to build our future success. No one has time, but we have to make time. Sometimes it takes slowing down to speed up. I often hear people say that planning is a waste of time because of how quickly things change and I disagree wholeheartedly. We need to inspire a vision of where we are going and why, and help people connect to how they can be part of the plan. But gone are the days of the slow and steady strategic plan. We make a plan for today with regular checkpoints to adapt because things change so quickly. With no plan you can’t get the team pointed in the same direction, and without a clear understanding of why you’re moving that direction, you can’t motivate and activate them to row there together.
Starting “backwards” was helpful for our team. What would success look like? What do we need to do to achieve it? What is holding us back that we need to stop doing/remove? From there we set up SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) goals. We also defined what we would measure, how we would roll it out to every single person on the team, and how we will keep our goals and progress top of mind so we don’t let the day-to-day get in the way of us achieve success. Stay tuned…
Following that exercise with my teammates, I started to think this weekend about my personal goals for the upcoming year. The same sense of overwhelm came bubbling up. There are things I want to achieve, places I want to visit, experiences I want to have, people I want to spend time with, things I want to learn. Staring down at the list I thought, how can I get this all done? Too many “to dos” means I will miss out on the best parts of life. I will feel rushed and stressed out, and even if I check these things off my list my heart and spirit will still be empty and longing. So I shifted my focus to how I want to live and who I want to be.
And I started backwards. Success for me would be becoming the person God wants me to be. More like Christ. (For my friends who aren’t quite there yet, maybe try “becoming the best version of yourself.”) With that goal in mind, I identified areas of my life where I can make big and small changes to move toward that success. For example, if growing closer to God and understanding who He wants me to be really is a priority then my actions should reflect that. Today I don’t spend enough time thinking, learning, or talking about Him and His teachings so two goals are related to that. In addition, I’ve received feedback on and come to notice myself is that when I get busy I forget to celebrate, encourage others, and I start to take people for granted. That’s what the third goal is related to. As you can see below, they are small and simple. If I have learned one thing this past year it is this: You don’t have to do extraordinary things to live an extraordinary life.
- Find a church to call home and getting involved in one activity beyond Sunday.
- Devote 10 minutes per day to listen to God (a form of prayer I am not yet good at).
- Say or send a note of encouragement to someone every single day.
What goals will you set for this year?
As you get started, here are a few tips that were super helpful to me:
- Start backwards: What does success look like?
- Just do it: Write something down and make a plan. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can always adjust and refine down the road. Take action and go for it!
- No more than 3 goals: There is research around the law of diminishing returns as it relates to goals. More than 3 and you are less likely to achieve even 1. Focus!
- Keep it simple: Small steps can result in big changes. Simplicity and consistency are key.
- Start where you are: For some of my working momma friends it might just be spending 5 minutes each day doing something that restores your mind and soul. We are all at different places in life. Set your goals with only you in mind so they align with who and where YOU are.
- Taking away is just as important as adding: Last year many of my goals were related to saying no or “stop doing.” Creating space and focus = winning!
- Celebrate progress: We are all on a journey and need to balance accepting ourselves for who we are while at the same time challenging ourselves to be all we are capable of being. There will be good and bad days. Regroup and rest on the setback days, and celebrate small wins to keep you going. Progress is progress!
I can’t wait to see what you will do to make 2019 your best year yet!