I cannot believe that we are into the final week of January already. If the entire year goes this fast it’s going to be Christmas again before I know it.
I’ve run into several women recently who have commented on how the month has gotten away from them and they still haven’t sat down to work on their goals or plan for the year. If you find yourself in the same boat, don’t worry. Here are three easy steps to get you on track – and fast!
The key to effective planning is to dream big but plan small. It’s common for us to think we have to have a plan that is as big and outrageous as our dreams. Here’s a secret. That’s not true. When our plans get too big, it’s easy for us to experience overwhelm that causes us to lose momentum. While our dreams should be big and challenging, our plans to support those dreams should be manageable and reasonable.
Step 1: Purge
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s fantastic to do a brain dump but it’s not nearly as effective if you don’t write it down. Carve 30 minutes out of your schedule to find a quiet place to write. Pull out a notebook and begin writing down everything you want to accomplish over the next 12 months. Include all of the goals you want to achieve in the next 12 months and all of the experiences you want to have in the next 12 months.
As you write, think about the three main spheres in your life. These are:
· Self: health, finance, creative, giving back, personal growth and development
· Relationships: visits, vacations, improvements
· Business or career: projects, promotions, raises, goals (like write a book, launch a business), networking
Reminder: as it is with all brain dumps that you do, don’t self-edit. Write down absolutely everything that comes to mind that you think should be on these lists.
Step 2: Prune
Sometimes the best way to grow is to cut back. Think of plants. Plants typically grow to their fullest and healthiest when you prune them. However, to get the best results, you don’t just hack a plant to the ground but instead selectively remove the parts that make the most sense. Pruning as a practice is done to remove deadwood, to improve or maintain plant health, to reduce risk of falling branches, and to increase the yield or quality of flowers/fruits. So, it’s the targeted removal of disease, damage, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound, or otherwise unwanted parts of the plant.
What a beautiful metaphor to apply to our plan. Just as you would target the removal of the parts of the plant that don’t serve the overall health and beauty of the plant for pruning, so should you target the parts of your list that don’t serve the overall health and beauty of your life.
The best way to prune your list is to run it through a series of filters. Ask yourself these three questions as you review the list you wrote down in Step 1.
· Is the payoff/impact of this item worth what it will take to accomplish it?
· Will the benefit of this item impact others in some way?
· Who will I have to become to make this happen?
This filter system will help you decide if the items on your list need to stay or be eliminated. The trick here is to not judge yourself as you go through this process. The inclusion or removal of an item is neither good nor bad. Removing items does not mean you are less than, it simply means that the item is not serving you at this time. Maybe the timing isn’t right. Maybe the importance of the item was being driven by someone else or someone else’s expectations for you and once you really looked at it, it wasn’t being true to you. Whatever the case, strike through the ones that don’t make sense for who you are and where you are in your life at this moment.
Getting super focused in this way helps in two ways. First, it makes sure you don’t take on too much and keeps your plan manageable and reasonable. Second, it eliminates spinning and lack of momentum.
Step 3: Practice
Now that you have your pruned list, put your plan into practice. Everything that you take on, everything you do, and everything you say “no” to should support the items that are left on your list.
This easy process is a good reminder that less is more. By making your plan as tight and right as possible you are making this the most focused and productive year ever. And, it’s never too late to get started – even if it is the end of January already.