Sydney and I ran a couple of errands late on Friday and she said to me, “This year has gone by so fast.” I gave a slight chuckle at the statement because, I’m assuming, most people probably can’t wait for 2020 to be over. However, Sydney’s words got me thinking where we are right now as a family and community.
October starts the fourth quarter. In the business world it’s a time when companies asses what’s gone right this year, what’s gone wrong, and what steps they can take to finish the year with strong forward momentum. Within our business we conduct similar analysis as well: what seems to be working well; what improvements can we make; how can we provide a positive impact in the lives of those we serve. I find the goals we lay out for the business don’t stray too far from my personal goals: what is working; what can I improve upon; am I helpful with those I love and interact with on a daily basis.
Just like in business, how can you prepare for a positive Q4 to help you end this difficult year with a real sense of personal accomplishment? All of us need to put an action plan in place to achieve our most important goals and start laying the groundwork for a successful 2021 as well. Here are three questions for you:
- What are my top goals for the next 3 months?
We’ve all had to deal with a myriad of challenges and changes in 2020. Those experiences probably had a profound impact on the goals you set for yourself way back in January. Perhaps, due to social distancing or work displacement, some goals just aren’t very realistic right now. Or perhaps certain events have inspired new goals that have jumped to the top of your list.
The space between the things we want to do and the things we can do in this environment might feel overwhelming. Instead of trying to do too much in a short space of time, reflect on how 2020 has affected you personally, professionally, emotionally, and physically. Focus your attention on one or two practical goals that will give you the most fulfillment. File away any goals that don’t make the cut for your 2021 game plan.
- What can I do today?
Once you’ve broken down your list of goals, it’s time to break down those goals even further into actionable daily steps. These little achievements will build up to major accomplishments over time if you’re diligent about crossing them off your to-do list.
Break down a vague goal, like, “I want to give back,” with a more specific and actionable step, like, “I’m going to call the local food pantry and see if they have any volunteer opportunities.” Making that phone call will lead you to another actionable step that you can take tomorrow, next week, and throughout the rest of the year.
- How will I hold myself accountable?
Effective goal setting creates a stepladder that builds on the previous day’s progress and keeps you moving closer to your ultimate goal. Some days it’s easier getting up on that ladder than others.
Many folks maintain motivation through short-term rewards. For example, if you accomplish your daily job search tasks for four days in a row, give yourself a Friday afternoon off and watch a movie or otherwise treat yourself to the downtime you crave.
Track your progress. There are many online tools and apps you can use to check off daily tasks, or you can use traditional checklists and planners to keep yourself organized.
Finally, there’s no stronger accountability system than other people. Knowing that your walking or running buddy is waiting for you on the trail will get you out of the house even when your bed is especially cozy. If you can’t do this in person because of social distancing, schedule a time to do it together—but just exercise while talking on the phone or Facetiming. And if you don’t have that buddy to help you in whatever you’re trying to get better at, you can find groups of likeminded strivers online who will inspire you to write more, cook healthier meals, sand down the rough edges, or learn the next three chords.
Please remember that we are “here” and available for you. If you have any questions or concerns, financial or otherwise, please do not hesitate to call or email. If you have friends, family, or neighbors you feel would benefit from a conversation with me, I’m more than happy to have a call or jump on a Zoom meeting with them.
As always, I hope that you are doing well, and staying safe & healthy!