Five steps to make your New Year resolutions happen
There are times to do planning and visioning - if you’re stuck, if things are ticking over but the bigger picture is missing and of course at the start of the year.
In all these cases, it really helps to drive out a vision. Essentially, this is what you really want. When you translate this into the practical reality of what that means, it will determine what you need to be doing for the next five minutes, hour, day, week and month.
Here are five simple, yet essential steps to bring this vision into the real world:
1. Drive out the vision that is most important to you
Usually a one year horizon is the most useful timescale. It’s long enough to make significant changes but not too long that it seems a distant dream. It may include a certain business turnover, a defined career progression or to have learnt a language. Be honest and include non work activity too. This is important. Make it something really appealing. If it’s not appealing enough, go back to the drawing board.
2. Get six month goals
Next you’ll need to translate this vision into where you will need to be in six months time. Divide this vision into its components. These will be project type activities, for example, a number of new products launched or new clients, an improved performance level at work or to have had six language lessons. You are splitting up this vision into distinct projects. Define an outcome for each project that is SMART (yes the traditional Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Timely and Realistic is still a very good idea for most people).
3. Get interim goals and tasks
At this point you need a calendar type document. A spreadsheet or a table will do.
Here’s a straight forward example for the first month for learning a language. The dates (months and weeks) will be going in the first column down the left hand side. Across the top, you be listing each project. You will need a row for each month. For each month, put your end goal for that month. The month end goals are the ones you need to meet by each month end to ensure the six month goal is met.
Then divide the month into weeks and create a row for each week. Here comes the crucial part which breaks down your vision into chunks you can actually do. For each project specify the tasks needed every week so you can achieve the month end goal. Do this for at least the next two months. For subsequent months you can stay at the higher level month end goals until you get close - then break down activities into weekly components.
4. Do the doing
Miss this step and you have just been playing around with ideas but not taking action so of course, this is the most important of all!
Now you can see what tasks must be completed each week for the next two months in order to meet the next two month end goals and therefore take you towards meeting your six month goal and one year vision.
You now need to factor these tasks into your reminders or to-do system. Make sure you always pick up the weekly tasks and action them. If these really are the priority, do them first or as soon as time will allow. Treat them as a deadline, like a journalist would for a publication deadline. If you really can't do this, re-plan so you really can achieve the goals and stick to the deadline. You can tick them off with satisfaction or turn them from red to green so you can see at a glance what is complete and what is outstanding. Getting to your end goal gives you a real boost (and a nice warm feeling inside).
5. Keep your plan up to date
Factor in a time to plan at each month end to a) review the previous month and b) plan the next month at weekly level so you always have at least two months ahead planned out.
For complex projects you may need more complex project planning documents than the example above - but the same principles apply: know your end goal and divide it up into those month end goals and week end tasks that will ensure you reach your deadline. That is the easy part done. Then you just have to get on and do them.
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