It’s the second week of the New Year everyone seems to be cracking down on their New Years Resolutions. It’s the same every year. The majority of us make the same promises to ourselves every January. We’re going to lose weight. We’re going to join the gym. We’re going to be more efficient and manage our time better. We’re not going to drink alcohol. We’re going to do better at work/school. We start off well. We are ridiculously motivated and determined to succeed. Sure, there is no reason why we should fail, is there? Last year, we got a little lackadaisical, bur this year… this year will be different! However, by the end of January, the cracks gradually begin to show. The dust begins to gather on that shiny new gym membership. An extra hour in bed seems far more appealing than tackling that ever growing mountain of laundry. Is there really a need to start that project the day it was given to us and sure, one glass of wine won’t hurt, will it?
Intentions are a great thing. They motivate and inspire us. They push us to realise our dreams, but it’s turning these intentions into actions that most people seem to struggle with. Over the last week, many friends and people I’ve met through work all seem to ask me the same questions. How do you stay organised? How are you so focused? What motivates you? They tell me that they couldn’t possibly do everything they want to because they are too busy. Nonsense!! For the last 7.5 years I have both worked and studied full time. I have not only achieved fantastic results in college, but have been promoted several times. I’ve also undertaken several other courses for my own personal development (and for fun!) outside of my academic and professional focus, and managed to fit in a good bit of socialising in the process. I couldn’t have done this without being organised, motivated and by managing my time exceptionally well. I explained to all those who asked that I look at my life as a series of challenges. I take each challenge and divide it into goals. Then I take these goals and devise action plans for them. After all, a goal without a plan is just a wish. It’s all well and good making new years resolutions, but you will probably not stick to them or turn them into habits if you do not formulate some kind of plan to achieve them.
When I first started explaining out loud the way I think (and actually hearing what I was saying), I thought my Challenge-Goal-Plan process sounded ridiculous and far too complex. I sounded crazy, overly organised and a huge control freak, which, to be fair, are all characteristics that I posses to some extent! Little did I know that a few people have begun to incorporate my ideas in the last two weeks and have been seeing positive results in not only the attainment of goals but also in productivity, motivation and general success in other areas of life. People are either going to love me or hate me for posting this, but I’ve decided to share with you the inner workings of my bizzare pragmatic brain and how I strive towards success, and more often than not accomplish whatever I set my mind to .
Firstly, I start each year by breaking down the 12 months into two main manageable sections: what challenges do I want to achieve by the end of the year (December) and within six months (June). By dividing my life in two, the things I want to accomplish already seem much more attainable.
Next, I further divide my year into four quarters. What goals do I need to reach in order to complete the my 6 month and 12 month challenges? If your desire is to lose 30 pounds or get defined abs, make that your challenge. Your goals are the mini-challenges you need to achieve to keep you on track and keep you accountable! Do you need to join a gym? Make that your first goal!
The next step is focus on the now. I look at all my first quarter goals and figure out how I am going to make them happen. I make a plan and try my very best to stick to it because let’s face it, life sometimes gets in the way with the plan to make it to the gym 4 times a week!
To put my Challenge-Goal-Plan process in perspective, one of my dreams is to move back to the Netherlands to work. In order to do this, I need to have a certain level of Dutch language skills. Therefore, one of my 12 month challenges is to be able to speak Dutch to an intermediate level (challenge). I am going to do this by taking Dutch classes and speaking to Dutch friends and family (goal). I have enrolled myself in a 10 week Beginners Dutch course in my local university starting on Monday evening and have arranged a weekly lunch date with a Dutch friend to practice my conversational skills (plan). Once I am nearing the end of March, I will assess how I am progressing and start making plans for the second quarter. By constantly evaluating your goals you can see what is working and what is not working and ultimately make changes to plans to help you to the finish line. Simple, right?
It is simple! It may seem like a bit of a systematic chore at first, but success and accomplishment doesn’t happen over night. I’ve learned you need to put in the effort and hard work before you get anything in return. If you want to get the most out of this year, I invite you to try my Challenge-Goal-Plan Process (I really need to come up with a better name!), even just for a few weeks. Customise it to suit you and your needs. If you want to be even more productive and organised, you can divide your quarterly goals into weekly goals! If you have a bit of a competitive streak like me, you might even make daily mundane tasks a bit more interesting by making a game out of it. When I was a waitress, I used to challenge myself to clear tables in the one go to make my job just that little bit more interesting. Because competing against yourself is the best fun you can have, right? No? Just me so?! I did tell you I see my life as a series of challenges!!
What are your tips to getting the most out of 2014? How do you keep organised and stay motivated?
Until the next time,