5 Steps to Jump-Start Your 1st Quarter Goal Push

Jeffrey Keefer

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Remember when this year started, and you had all those beautiful goals, intentions, or plans for what you want to accomplish?

You thought about short-term plans. You considered long-term dreams. While being realistic, you still wanted to stretch to live a life of wonder and passion.

You even made your goals SMART.

January 1 came, and off you went!

Success!

Or, perhaps not quite yet?

Where Are You Now?

Did you make it to January 15 with your goals still intact?

How about February 15?

As we approach the end of the first quarter, the end of the first quarter, it is still not too late!

If you accomplished your goals this year, to any extent, then congrats!

If you did not make your goals or only made part of your dreams, don't feel bad. Feeling bad does not do much for us except increase stress and decrease our positive abilities to do things.

How about, for now, we accept we have not made the progress we wanted?

That's it, just acceptance.

This doesn't mean we like or do not like where we are; it merely means we acknowledge where we are. Neither good nor bad; this is just the situation.

Try doing that without judgment, as judgment rarely helps.

Let's Accept Our Now

Could you work with me for a minute? Literally, just for a minute.

Sit quietly.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Clear your mind of judgment.

Of pointing a finger.

Of imagining what others think.

Of imagining what will happen to us.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Accept our now.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

OK, so hopefully, we can now start anew without blame or judgment or guilt or any of those internal demons, even if we start anew only for today.

Time to move forward.

5 Steps to Jump-Start Your 1st Quarter Goal Push

We have only a couple of weeks to make progress on and accomplish our personal goals for the quarter, and if we work on them for now, we can ensure some momentum for what remains for the year! Let's make the most of this!

To make progress on your goals and DO them, there are 5 steps I have found useful at this time of the year that I want to share.

  1. Realistically Review and Revise Your Goals
  2. Prioritize Our Time to Align with These Goals
  3. Build Habits to Achieve Your Goals
  4. Schedule Time to Do Our Daily Habits
  5. Track and Course Correct Weekly

Remember, it is better to do these steps late than not doing them at all. Who wants to live a life of regret, anyway?!

1. Realistically Review and Revise Your Goals

Go take out your goals for this year and look at them. Really look at them. Think about them. Feel into them.

Our lives are not to impress others or look good for others, right? Which feels better — for others to approve or for us to approve of ourselves?

See those goals there? Are they still the right ones? Maybe they were the right ones for us when we set them, but now we are at a different place. What happened in the past does not matter, embrace where you are now and see how they still feel.

Delete the goals that are no longer worth doing.

This is a SUCCESS, as we are actively deciding some goals are no longer worth our time, efforts, or attention. This means we accomplish something now, as we are the ones choosing to eliminate them. That is a positive action in my book, so count it as a success.

Revise the goals that remain.

Hey, our lives change. Experiences and how we make meaning from them make us different from when we initially set our goals. Acknowledge and celebrate this, for it is never worth working toward a goal that no longer meets our needs or wants as they existed in the past. If they are still valuable, update them for today, and then when we work on them, they will be more timely than ever.

It is essential to delete the old goals that do not apply first, as it is not worth spending any effort on them. Then, revise the remaining ones as they still hold value.

For this to work, the goals need to hold value for us, not others. Let this guide the revisions, as we can only really work toward our own goals if we want to be successful.

2. Prioritize Our Time to Align with These Goals

Your goals clearly do not do themselves, so if they are really the ones worth doing, we need to prioritize our time to achieve them.

We already have full lives. We don't have any extra time to suddenly start working on these goals right now on top of what we already do.

However, we also have a finite amount of time to do them by the end of the year, and in our last step we agreed they were worth doing.

So, something has to go.

Either we get rid of these new goals overall or prioritize our remaining time to do them.

These are hard decisions, but the more important the goals are in our lives, the more likely we will be able to cut out those low-value time-wasters we have and commit to doing these.

If something else we are doing does not align with our revised list of goals, then ask yourself, "Is this really worth doing when I could otherwise be working toward my personal goals that are so valuable to me?"

Chop out those things that no longer fit as they were not prioritized highly enough.

Now, see those open spaces in the calendar? That is where we can focus our efforts—not using a calendar each day or week? Now is the time to start.

This is an essential step, as if we do not make and prioritize time for accomplishing our goals, they will not happen.

3. Build Habits to Achieve Your Goals

Once we commit to the time it will take to achieve our goals and build that time into our planner, we need to begin building habits that will make them possible.

The steps to achieve goals often occur through small, repetitive actions, called habits, that we need to develop in our lives. These habits become that way through repetitive motions, and as these are intended to help us achieve our goals before the end of the year, they all should enable to move us forward.

Some possible habits include:

  • Do a Pomodoro each day focused on one goal. One 25 minutes of focused work followed by a brief 5-minute break fits nicely into a 30-minute block of time.
  • Do a Pomodoro each day focused on each goal (if more than one).
  • Incorporate tangible goal progress into your morning routine. Sometimes we need to do those things that help us develop as people before the daily demands and distractions take all our attention.
  • Schedule time each day to do the goal. Having a plan on its own without repeated time allocated to it has not worked before, so we need to take action.
  • Combine activities you already do with actions that will help you achieve your goals. This will enable goal triggering and will make the goal a natural occurrence and not feel like extra work. Remember the time when people would smoke right after they eat? Eating triggered that behavior, and it is this same sort of behavioral trigger we want to promote, though in a positive manner.

Habits usually take time to accomplish, so as you begin doing these, keep reminding yourself that this is to achieve what is most valuable for you this year. These are your goals, and to make them happen, we need to be in the habit of working toward our goals.

This step involves deciding which habits will help us make progress, after which we need to schedule and do them.

4. Schedule Time to Do Our Daily Habits

Habits need lots of time to become habits, and this will not happen by itself.

Many of our habits were not intentionally done to be fair, though we are not speaking about these right now. We are focusing on these new Daily Habits we want to develop to help us achieve our goals.

We only have so much time remaining this year, and if we do not clearly articulate the habits we want to develop to achieve the goals we want to accomplish, we cannot schedule a time for them.

Take the remaining year, divide the actions that need to happen by which periods for the goals to work, and set those milestones in your schedule.

Break those down into weeks and weeks into days.

This activity is not intended to overly-regulate our lives or cause more anxiety but rather to create a structure to achieve our goals. If it feels overwhelming, take a breather and repeat the one-minute centering meditation above.

It does not matter if you use an online calendar or paper or even sticky-notes — be intentional about what needs to happen by when, and thus what I need to do today or tomorrow to make progress toward that.

5. Track and Course Correct Weekly

Want to see how you are doing? Once a week, like Sunday night, take stock of what was scheduled and what you accomplished.

Were those two aligned? Great! Use that to influence how you schedule for next week.

Was there a gap last week between what you wanted to accomplish and what you did? OK, what can we learn from that? What can we do differently in this coming week to intentionally avoid that from happening again?

Repeat.

Onward and Upward

This is not an easy set of 5 steps, as it involves change. It affects our admitting to ourselves that there is more to life, and as a result, it is up to us to embrace our own goals and move our own lives forward by intentionally using change to help us get where we want to go.

Not easy by any means, but necessary if we want to make the most of our remaining time and succeed on our yearly, personal goals. We are not doing this for others but ourselves.

In case you are wondering, I have five goals for this year: one professional, two related to personal writing, one spiritual, and one connected to the community. I have thus far accomplished two of them, am awaiting feedback on a third (a poem I submitted for publication), have had mixed success on a fourth, and prioritize the fifth as I have not made anywhere near the progress I wanted.

This means I am following these 5 steps for my two remaining goals.

Try this, and know you are not alone.

These 5 Steps to Jump-Start Your 1st Quarter Goal Push is my plan to finish what remains in my own goals, and I have had tangible success using them. I am very eager to hear if they work for you as well.

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Educator. Writer. Open Knowledge Advocate. Institutional Researcher. I help people navigate their learning needs and take informed action.

New York City, NY
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