I’ll be blunt here: I got a lot of shit done last year. Planning and preparedness is part of my nature and it helps me cope with my anxiety. (I’m a wannabe-ENTP fake-Ravenclaw pseudo-Virgo, what can I say?) There are a thousand ways to plan and execute, but I’m sharing my method (with a bonus calendar!) here with you today.
What do you want to do by 2018? Who do you want to be?
Take some time to reflect on the past 12 months. Then consider what you want to achieve this year. Is there a single theme that ties those achievements together? Can you distill the feelings you’d get from those achievements into one word? Make that your word of the year to guide you through your goals, actions, and mindset. (For reference, my word of 2016 was light and my word of 2017 is reach.)
How will you get there?
Think about the year in quarterly sprints
Quarters aren’t just for board meetings or estimated taxes. They’re a great way to break down an entire year into more manageable chunks.
Create four big-picture goals
Take those achievements you brainstormed earlier when determining your word of the year. What are four big things you want to accomplish before 2018? These can relate to your health, family, full-time job, income, passions and hobbies, independent businesses, client list, side projects, art practice, school, or personal development… It all works!
Break down each big-picture goal into 3 milestones
Each goal from the previous step now gets sliced and diced into three measurable, attainable milestones. If your guiding word of the year is “prosperity” and one of your big-picture goals is to land a $30k project, your three your milestones for that goal could be (1) consolidate your client onboarding process into one sleek system, (2) revamp your portfolio with up to date case studies & testimonials, (3) strategize and automate your social media presence to entice your dream clients.
Make it happen, on schedule
You’ll spend 1 month (4 weeks) reaching each milestone. When you complete all three milestones, you’ll have ended a quarter by reaching one of your goals! Repeat with your other three goals and you’re exactly where you want to be at the end of the year. If you want the greatest chance of success: write down your goals, share them with a friend, and give that friend regular updates on your progress.
The balance between momentum and forgiveness
I know everything sounds amazing right now, but let’s be real. We’re going to slide off course. We’ll slip up. Maybe July will be a total derailing suckfest and you’ll have to work twice as hard in August, or write off that one milestone entirely for now. Be kind to yourself. Remain kind to yourself. Give yourself some grace and some wiggle room. Designer & goal-getter Melanie Richards realized she needed different approaches for her yearly goals: some goals are better served as new habits and some can be downgraded to general suggestions. You can’t be 100% productive 100% of the time. There’s way more to life than unhealthy hustle. Wherever you are, you’ll be on the right track if you keep trying.
Hop to it!
Getting caught up in goal-setting minutiae is less effective than daydreaming. I’m sharing a loosely-structured printable to help you guide through your goals! It’s a Monday-start no-gap calendar, separated by quarter on letter-sized paper. Let me know if it’s helpful for you.