It’s that time of year when people become goal-mad, and there’s generally a new-found level of motivation to kick start the new year off on a positive note. But we also know that those great intentions tend to fall by the wayside for the majority by the end of January, when the frustration and guilt of not following through on your plans starts to mount. So what can you do to fend off that disappointment of not achieving your goals?
I’m a bit of an all or nothing girl – I like to get well and truly immersed in my goals, make a big dent, and smash them out as quickly as possible. Working in big chunks of time used to be very productive for me, and in a day I’d have a new program written and launched, or a new project well and truly carved out. But, as life has got more complex with kids and additional responsibilities, I simply don’t have the same amount of time to dedicate to my career and business goals in the way I used to, and for a while I really struggled with that.
What I’ve realised is that the frustration that comes with not being able to work the way I want to, and go after my goals like I used to, can be a real hindrance. The frustration of being behind with my plans, and the constant nagging inside my head that I wasn’t achieving what I wanted, was negative self-talk that isn’t conducive to living a productive and successful life. So it’s been really important for me to shake up the way I approach the things I really want to achieve. The old habits that worked so well for me previously simply lead me into a pit of guilt and frustration these days!
I see this a lot with my clients also, who are scheduling big chunks of time in their diary to try and get on top of important tasks or projects, but despite their best intentions, these plans normally go belly up because it’s simply way harder to commit to a big block of time than it is a nibble.
Another common example is exercise. I’ve got to admit I’ve grown up believing that my exercise sessions need to be at least an hour long, but that’s simply not true. Since I got rid of that old belief it’s been so much easier to find time to get – and stay – fit and healthy (and I ran my first marathon last year so for me that really shows this approach is working without doubt!).
The same goes for career management. For many people an annual review with their boss is as close as they get to managing their career proactively, and for the rest of the year its a task that feels too time consuming to comprehend amidst a busy to-do list. But the reality is very different. By investing just half an hour a week into thinking about your career strategically, and taking action on some bite-sized tasks, you CAN move your career forward and do your job at the same time.
So the key in all of this is to make sure that you’re structuring your plan to achieve your goals around small pockets of time, rather than large chunks that are much less likely to happen. 15 minutes of progress everyday will move you significantly closer to achieving your goals as opposed to stressing out, trying to find a couple of hours free time, and ultimately ending up doing nothing.
So quit trying to find yourself hours here and there to focus on the important stuff, and instead schedule blocks of 15 or 20 minutes regularly in your diary. Get organised ahead of that time slot so that you have everything you need to gets started straight away, and eliminate all distractions so that you’re 100% focused. That means turning off your phone, email and social media – you can cope being off-line for such a short burst of time!
Track your progress so that you can see the incremental changes each little pocket of effort delivers, and after just a week of applying this approach consistently you’ll start to see how your goals are becoming a much closer reality.
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