How to Do a Monthly Assessment to Reach Your Goals Faster

Michael Loren

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

I love a good New Year’s resolution, but I have found that if I don’t reassess where I am on a monthly basis, I tend to lose my way on the path toward those goals.

A good, honest look back at the previous month can help you learn what you did right in the past month and what you could do better in the next 30(ish) days. And, for me, it usually takes less than an hour.

Here are the three questions I use to assess my monthly progress:

What do I want to stop doing?

My unverified statistic says that the number one deterrent from a person’s progress toward a goal is doing things that take up time but don’t serve the purpose. One of my favorite phrases is, “Keep the main thing the main thing.”

I often say yes to doing activities that don’t serve my main purpose and then it inevitably takes me longer to get to the place I want to be in the future. My advice? Stop saying yes to things that don’t serve your main purpose.

However, if I don’t really stop and look at how I have been spending time, some of these sneaky time killers can go undetected (and take up more time in the next month).

Additionally, I ask myself what have I done in the past month that didn’t work out. Activities that I thought would enhance my career in a big way sometimes turn out to be…duds. So, I look at what I can chuck for the next month.

What do I want to start doing?

Now that I know what I want to stop doing, I ask myself what I would like to start doing. For instance, I would like to start working out in the mornings again in March.

The sun is now up early enough for me to go for my morning run and getting my workout out of the way relatively early in the day frees up more time later for writing articles like this one.

I’m always careful, though, to make sure that what I want to start doing is both in line with my main goal and small enough to not overwhelm me. Small changes can eventually reap massive rewards, but when you don’t stick to your guns, you end up exactly where you started.

What do I want to continue doing?

I believe this is the most important question of the four. Simply because, when we’re doing things that work, they often goes unnoticed. And if you don’t continue to do things that are working, you’ll lose traction. Listing these things can not only give you a little boost of encouragement, but it will also provide clues as to how to move forward in future months.

I love writing my monthly wrap up articles. I titled my first one Two Months of Writing on Medium: A Case Study and it got a good amount of reads and comments. Friends, I try not to fix what ain’t broken. So, I titled the next three months’ articles in exactly the same way. And guess what will be coming out in two days? You guessed it. Six Months of Writing on Medium: A Case Study.

It’s also easy to fail to recognize when things are going well physically. For instance, I have gotten a great amount of sleep this month and (I believe) I have been a better writer for it (even though my other obligations took up a lot of my time). I tend to only recognize when I have a bad night’s sleep. If anything, that is the opposite of what I should be highlighting.

If we don’t notice and keep what is going right, we might lose it in the pursuit of continued self-improvement. Continuing what we’re doing right is one of the most powerful things we can do.

If you ask yourself these three questions at the end of every calendar month in the year, I will wager that you will stay more focused on the path toward your goals than if you don’t. I like to write down my answers to these questions and keep them in a notebook that I can thumb through from time to time.

In looking back at months of documentation of my answers to my monthly self-assessment questions, I can see my progress and I can also sometimes find a few old things I can reapply in a different way to further enhance my trajectory.

Looking back is good. Looking back while you’re looking forward is better. I encourage you to explore a self-assessment in the next few days and make plans for a fantastic and focused March.

Leave me a note if you try this and let me know how it went. And if you have any other questions you suggest adding, throw them in the comments so we can all try them out for the next month.

Incremental change is better than ambitious failure. Success feeds on itself. — Tal Ben-Shahar

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Professional writer and journalist with concentration in data analysis. I specialize in interpreting data to give you unbiased, understandable information related to the state of California.

Los Angeles, CA

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