We’ve finally landed in the month of hayrides, bonfires, and pumpkin patches – the official kickoff of holiday season. This is my absolute favorite time of year. Everything just seems a little brighter and happier from now through New Year’s Day. It is also a hectic time of year for almost everyone I know. Weekends are packed with fun, sports are in full force, and there’s just less daylight to get everything done at work and home. It is easy to feel behind during this busy season which is why I wanted to talk to you about my personal plan to stay mindful of my goals and actually get things done.
Don’t get me wrong, September was a wash for me! Mrs. Procrastinator over here hasn’t changed that much since I was finishing my 8th grade math homework in the hallway right outside the door literally up until the bell rang to start class. That said, I am a tiny bit more driven now AND I’ve got a few awesome tools to make sure that I am set up for success.
First, let’s talk about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals
…because if you haven’t read any personal development books (that’s now what we cool kids call “self help” books!) or haven’t been to any staff development trainings lately, you may be a little rusty on the acronym. S.M.A.R.T. stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. An example would be no longer just wishing to “read more books” but rather setting the goal, “I will read 2 books a month.” It is specific (2 books) and measurable (within a month). It is also attainable as I already am the proud owner of 3 library cards. It is also relevant for me as a former bookworm. This goal is timely in that I know I basically have two weeks to read each book to be sure I am hitting the overall goal. I have what I need to be set up for success! Even goals that may be specific and measurable will not necessarily be attainable, relevant, or timely. Skipping even one or two of the S.M.A.R.T. characteristics in goal setting can lead to failure and further frustrations for you.
Secondly, let’s go shopping!
I am a FIRM believer in having a paper planner and to do list. I love my Google Calendar app just like any other busy mom and bossy lady, but science has proven time and time again that humans retain information better when they write it down. Not only will you have a better memory, writing your goals down helps you truly visualize success and what it will take to get there.
Back in August I received the Living Well Planner for my birthday and I am so glad I did. It’s been years since I first read Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup but the planner has been just as life changing as the book. Each month it really helps you dive into what your goals are and guides you through breaking them down. In fact, the first three pages of every month are dedicated to goal setting. The monthly view and weekly view pages also help keep you on track, including areas for daily must do items and meal planning. Each month ends with a very detailed monthly budget section to even help keep your finances on track. You don’t have to have this exact planner, but I highly suggest figuring out a written system that works for you. I like this approach of having it all-in-one because a planner should be often referred to (read: daily), and you can take time to look over your goals again and again keeping them fresh in your mind. Which brings me to my next point…
(Lastly,) Check in Often.
It isn’t just enough to say your goals out loud or even write them down in detail. You need to check in along the way to see what progress you are making and what is left to be done. If you have a goal you’d like to reach in a short time, such as a month, you may need to check in every day to see if your To Do List aligns with reaching that goal. What will get you one step closer to achieving your dream?
Though the procrastinator in me hates it, I like to start the day by “eating the frog,” which is to say, getting the one thing I want to do least done as my first task of the day. Return the call. Fold the laundry. Get your workout in. Do these big or hard things first and the rest of your day will flow more smoothly.
Sometimes these check ins even mean reevaluating your goals all together. The dreams you had for yourself on NYE may not be the same by August. Half of your vision board may not have been realized ten months into the year. Don’t feel bad about re-prioritizing. You may need to change directions and start again, but not reaching a goal does not mean you failed! Life goes on and luckily, you get to help set the pace.