Goal Check 2013: Your First Month

Well here we are. January is over, so it’s time to do a quick goal check.

OK, we know it’s only been a month, but if you think about it, 10% of the year is now over. That means 90% of the resolutions people made a month ago have already been abandoned. Looking at it from that perspective, you should be keenly aware that time is going to progress — whether you do or not.

If you haven’t set up your goals for the new year yet, don’t worry. The thing about change, improvement, or any sort of objective you decide will make your life better is this: it doesn’t have to start when the calendar says “1,” or when the week starts. It can start right now. It can start in the morning. It can start whenever you’re ready to start. But the important thing is, it?has to?start. Nothing happens if you don’t do anything.

Step One: Set Some Goals

If you’re starting late there’s no time like the present to get on track. Remember, the whole name of the game is to come up with something that’s actionable (meaning you can do it) within specific parameters. That means you have time limits, and quantitative factors you can measure.

There’s a saying in business and in fitness: whatever gets measured gets managed. If you don’t know where you’re going, where you’re at, and what you have left to do, you’ll have no way of knowing what action steps you must take in order to accelerate toward your goals.

For advice on setting specific goals, Mitch Parker wrote a great introduction to the process back in our New You Issue. Give that article a read, and go back to the New You Issue lead article itself if you need some ideas on where to get started.

If you’ve already done all of that, move on to…

Step Two: Manage Your Goals

Here’s where we come to the crux of this article. You have to have some oversight in order to know what’s going on and where you stand. That means you need some way of quantifying how your goals are coming along. Since we’re a month into 2013, we’re assuming you set some goals at the start of the new year — but of course you can translate these ideas to a month away from whenever you choose to start.

First, know what your defined goals actually were when you started.

Next, take a look at your action steps. The analysis of action for each goal goes something like this:

  1. What was your goal?
  2. What was your first action?
  3. What was that action intended to accomplish?
  4. Did that action accomplish what it was supposed to (if not, what’s its timeline)?
  5. If your actions haven’t accomplished their objectives, why not?
  6. What corrective steps can be taken, if needed?
  7. What actions will you need to take in February (or over the next month) to extend momentum toward the goal?

This sequence is virtually the same no matter what your goals, be they fitness, finance, or social. Having clearly defined action steps; and being prepared to?change actions if they’re not producing; is the key.

Step Three: Adapt and Improve

We often start out on our path to success thinking we know exactly what needs to be done to get there. Then we adhere doggedly to that system. Then we hit a roadblock and blame ourselves for not producing.

You need to be prepared to adapt. Remember the philosophy that drives everyone to change: if what you’re doing isn’t getting you what you’re looking for, do something else. There’s no point in continuing to do exactly the same workout routine if you’ve been at a plateau for a month with no change in weight or body composition. There’s no point in sending out the same resume to the same set of prospective employers if you haven’t landed an interview with any of them.

Get the idea? If you do your analysis from Step 2 above, and you find that an action didn’t achieve the desired result, you have to find out why, and you have to change something about the action — or change the action itself. Doing things that don’t serve your ultimate purpose is counterproductive, and it’s what tends to land us in our ruts and routines moreso than propel us forward.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t keep things that are sustainable. Let’s say you’re trying to build a business while working your job. Look at your numbers. If you still need the job to keep you afloat while your business crawls forward, keep going. It doesn’t serve your ultimate purpose of world internet sales domination, but it does serve your immediate purpose of keeping food in your belly and a roof over your head. There will come a time when burning your ships is necessary…but be wary and wise about when that time is. Burning ships is a good and romantic notion, but burning bridges isn’t a good move…at least early on.

Take a good hard look at your goals for the year. If you’re not at least 10% of the way to achieving them, determine the reasons for this and take corrective action. Remember, improvement is a process, not a goal. So any step you take toward your goals is a step in the right direction, even if you have to adjust course as you go.



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