A lot of us reassess our goals and priorities in the fall after maybe losing a bit of our focus with all the freedom and fun over summer (it could be something about the changing leaves and shorter days reminding us the year is winding to a close, or as I’ve long speculated — it’s the school year starting up again and we all live by the school year long after we’ve finished and even after our kids have graduated!).
Some of us may have faced unexpected hurdles like losing a client, that funding you were expecting didn’t come through, or a key member of your team is moving on.
As John Lennon famously sang in his song Beautiful Boy, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
Don’t despair if you look at the calendar and feel that you are nowhere near achieving the goals you set for yourself for this year — a little bit of work can quickly get your goals back on track.
Take time to reflect on your goals
If you did some goal setting for this year, make time to review those goals now and remember why setting goals for this year is valuable. Before you reset your goals, you need to take stock.
Revisit your goals and assess what you’ve achieved and what you have yet to complete. You don’t have to fix anything yet — just note your successes and challenges. It’s good to remember what motivates you.
Now if you didn’t ever finish goal setting for this year, it’s not too late. It’s never too late!
Check out our blog from earlier this year to work through the steps to set the right kind of goals and you can even download our ultimate goal setting worksheet.
Take time to reflect and learn
From time to time we all need to adjust to stay on course. After reviewing your goals and re-examining what prompted them for you in the first place, you can make informed decisions to get your goals back on track.
To start, consider:
- Roadblocks to successfully meeting your goals: What’s preventing you from achieving your goals? Are these roadblocks challenges you can overcome, or do you need to change direction completely? Are they internal roadblocks, or external?
- Inventory what lessons you have learned: Every experience is a learning opportunity, so what did you learn from your successes? Are there new avenues there? And, what have you learned or gained even around the goals you haven’t yet achieved?
- Note the resources you have developed: Thinking about achievements so far, and the ones yet to be reached, what gains have you made in terms of things like human resources, contacts, technology, or capital? What resources do you need going forward? Who or what could help with those outstanding goals?
Knowing what you’ve faced and which things you can leverage in your future work will help you as you map out the rest of the year or even as you redefine your goals.
Evaluate and rewrite as required
It’s time to reaffirm or reset those goals! Now that you’ve evaluated your work to date, you can make adjustments as necessary.
Some of us might be fine with the goals we defined earlier, but realize that we need to really master daily tasks to achieve the bigger goals. Many folks who struggle with procrastination find it easier to get moving if tasks are manageable. So, for instance, instead of a milestone of “finish the report by Friday,” the steps might be broken down into a section a day and the introduction and conclusion on another day and then reviewed by peers for feedback.
Acknowledging what needs to be improved and breaking goals down into more actionable items helps regain traction and get goals back on track. When you break down those tasks, think about who or what could help you with each one.
Redraft or start from scratch
There may also be goals that need to be revised or even completely rewritten — and that’s fine. A check-in around this time of year is a great time to realign and rewrite some of your goals. This is your plan and it will work best if you agree with the goals and are still motivated to achieve them.
It may be that after examining and evaluating a goal you realize that it is not specific enough or maybe it’s no longer realistic in light of new information. Or, you might realize that it’s time to figure out a new goal altogether.
With more information and understanding, take another shot at setting the right kind of goals with our step-by-step process to determine what your goals are and how to make them actionable. Modify and change what you need to do to improve the goal so it can be met.
Get in the game
Once you’ve revised and reset your goals, you need to keep the momentum going. Here are some ideas to help you move from theory to practice:
Get started. Sometimes, “just start” is the mantra that has most helped me. Starting something, just diving into the first step without worrying about the next one often gets me into a groove where I realize at the end of the day I’ve accomplished what I needed, or maybe even more.
Stay focused. All of us have things that distract us or derail our productivity. Maybe it’s a chatty colleague or a client who calls repeatedly, or perhaps it’s the temptation to focus on people instead of paperwork…or on paperwork, instead of people! Recognizing what routinely interrupts your workflow is a huge first step in fixing it. Once you do, it’s often quite easy to figure out how to mitigate the time wasting — like setting limits or finding other ways to get motivated at work.
Accept that not everything will go according to plan. There will likely be more challenges, delays, or setbacks that you don’t anticipate. It’s hard when things happen to derail plans, but trust that you can work through challenges. The key thing to remember is that you can’t control what happens, but you can control how you react.
Celebrate your successes along the way. Crossing off to-do items on a list is extremely satisfying and a reminder that you’re on track. If that list has the series of manageable steps you wrote out as you revisited and revised your goals, then you’ll be making fantastic progress as you check them off. Track your progress so you notice when you reach each milestone along the way to meeting the bigger goal; you’ll feel like you have momentum. It’s easier to keep going when you know it’s the right direction!
The Coach’s Questions
What stands out when you review your goals for this year? How do you feel about revisiting or rewriting those goals? What will New Year’s be like if you’ve achieved the big goals you’ve got on this year’s list?