Looking back to get ahead

Photo courtesy of Jannes Pockele (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Jannes Pockele (Creative Commons)

Do you ever feel like you are just spinning your wheels and not moving forward? Are you so overwhelmed that you feel like you are just stuck?

I’ve been feeling very stuck lately, and frustrated. It has felt like not only have I not been making progress toward my goals, but that my goals themselves are kind of foggy and unclear.

But an unrelated comment I heard from someone made me take a look back at what I have accomplished so far this year, and I felt so much hope and success.

In looking at my goals from the first of the year, I gained some perspective. Not only have I completed two of the 5 already, but I have made significant advancements in several other areas that weren’t even on my list of goals. I have  actually made significant progress on my journey of development this year.

That is why it is so important to do quarterly reviews of your plans and goals. So since I missed the first quarter this year, I’m doing a mid-year review instead, but here are some things I will be looking at:

  • Set aside time – as evidenced by my own situation, it’s important to schedule regular reviews and put them on the calendar. If you are like me, the calendar rules, so go ahead and plan your reviews for the rest of the year right now. I’ll wait until you finish.
  • Look at all areas of your life – growth in your health and fitness, relationships, spirituality and personal development are just as important as work goals, so be sure to consider each part of your life. Some areas might not have set goals, but look at ways to develop or enrich them. I tend to overlook relationships, so I need to be sure to plan activities with friends and family as part of this review.
  • Rewrite your goals – plans change throughout the year, and you may need to modify your goals. I find it’s helpful to rewrite my goals as I think through them so that I consider whether the outcome or timeframe needs to be adjusted and what needs to be added or taken away. For instance, one of my goals was to complete a half-marathon, which I did in April. That means I need to rethink my fitness goals since I’m not training for another race at the moment.
  • Consider next actions – goals in a list are wonderful, but they are worthless if you don’t specify the next action to move you closer to accomplishing each one. Take the extra time during your review to consider what you need to do next on each goal. It might be make a phone call, send an email, or review some key information. Put that on your calendar or task list too. You may also discover what didn’t work for you, and take this opportunity to approach from a different direction. Nebulous goals like “engage through writing” are more effective if you add specific next steps like “brainstorm topics” or “build writing calendar.”
  • Celebrate – this is the hardest step for me but so significant. Reflect on what you have accomplished already. You have done well and moved in the right direction, so revel in that for a few moments and then get back to work!

It is not helpful to only look ahead. Sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is to look back at what you have already done to figure out how to move ahead. Reviewing also helps quiet the little voice that may be telling you that you haven’t done anything. You need to hear the voice that tells you that you are moving in the right direction!

Have you done a review of your goals yet this year?

2 thoughts on “Looking back to get ahead

  1. I’m there with you. I have a lot of trouble setting goals and sticking to them, whether they are long-term or not. I’m not a checklist person, so having one overwhelms me. Thanks for some good pointers on how to go about it :0)

    • Setting goals is pretty easy but you are right – it’s the sticking with them that’s hard. And even though I am a checklist person, mine has been way overwhelming lately. Hope you make some progress!

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