So, how’s your New Year’s resolution coming along? If you didn’t cringe at that question, you among the elite 8% of the American population. A 2013 college study found that 92% of people don’t follow through on their resolutions.* These statistics should not be a surprise. Throwing everything you’ve got at a new way of doing things once a year, and expecting results is a monumental task and hope. Instead, I believe our resolutions should be a weekly event and check-in.
Our self-renewal must be a continual process; a work in progress. If we want to improve ourselves, it must be done in an ongoing, disciplined way, not in a ‘throw-everything-you’ve-got-at-it’ once a year event. Consider the effort it takes to get an education, work through a project at your job, raise a family, or plan a trip. It’s not a one-time event. True, it starts with one decision, but continues with ongoing commitment and work. So it is with ongoing renewal. It’s for the long haul.
Instead, I encourage you to reframe the way you think about your life. Reframing is a new way of looking at something with the goal of approaching it in a better way (see my thoughts on reframing conflict in Kay’s Consulting Corner in my November newsletter). To reframe your life, I’d like to suggest putting it in buckets such as family, health, professional life and development, friendships, spiritual, daily responsibilities, and recreation. This method is very similar to the Franklin Covey approach of organizing your priorities, with one additional step, which is formulating your personal mini mission statements.
By creating mini mission statements, you move from an idealist approach of hope, to an action-oriented reality of what you are really willing to do. I would categorize most New Year’s resolutions in the ‘hopeful’ category, often made without a lot of forethought and a plan to move forward. A well-written mini mission statement will naturally produce action-oriented goals and to-do lists for each of your buckets. The basic framework of your mini mission statement is this: “I want to go from X to Y by Z.” No, it’s not an algebraic equation. It’s a way to put a start, end and achievable measurement on your goal.
- “I want to go from a level 2 manager (X) to level 3 manager (Y), by the end of the year (Z).”
- “I want to go from 170 pounds (X) to 130 pounds (Y) by December (Z).
- “I want to work less (X) and spend more time with my son (Y) each week (Z).”
Notice these mission statements are all in different buckets; work, health and family. They also have reasonable timeframes. Example 1 allows you 12 months to work on projects to reach your promotion goal. Example 2 focuses on losing just 3 pounds a month to reach your goal weight by the end of the year. And, example 3 can be as simple as carving out a weekly half hour of time to play a board game or go out for an ice cream. Small steps toward a larger mission.
The thing I like most about the mini mission statement is that it sets realistic goals, and gets rid of the perfectionist problem. You know, the one that often plagues women who think they have to ‘do it all’, ‘be it all’ and ‘give it all’? Mini mission statements for each bucket takes perfectionism out of the equation, and brings your goals into focus. However; you must commit to reviewing them weekly.
I like to take Sunday afternoons or evenings to reflect on the week, review each bucket and see what I’ve done to fill up the mission. In 2015, carve out time for yourself each weekend for self-renewal. Begin this weekend with the following steps:
- Identify your buckets
- Reflect on your mini mission statement for each bucket, and then write it down using the from “Go from X to Y in Z” framework.
- Break down the steps you need to take to get to Z. (Like in the above examples; 3 pounds a month or ½ hour per week.)
- As you plan the coming week, refer to each bucket and see how you might make the first step for each mission statement with the things you already have on your plate.
- Your first step needs to be small enough that you could it immediately, or at least tomorrow. These leading tasks will get you going.
The following weekend, review your buckets and goals. How did you do for the week? The most important part in this process is to refuse to indict yourself. Each week, there will be something moving you closer toward some goals, chances are it will be the momentum of success. There’s always more we ‘could’ do, but the focus needs to be on what we ‘have’ done. Celebrate that and move forward instead of beating yourself up.
The key here is to be intentional, and really think about what you want out of life, rather than letting life toss you around with unnecessary obligations (finishing that Words with Friends game, or having all the laundry done), and sudden enticing opportunities (spur of the moment shopping outing) that can sidetrack us. I use some of the following tools to help with mini mission statements and tracking. Some have been recommended by colleagues:
Wunderlist – Simple list of things to do – https://www.wunderlist.com/
Trello – Aligns with the bucket strategy, mini goals and list with deadlines. Allows other people to work with your projects. https://trello.com/
Irunurun – Helps with goal writing and ‘gamifies’ goal tracking with scores for completion. http://www.irunurun.com/
Google Keep – Like Pinterest, but for your thoughts, links, lists and ideas. https://keep.google.com/
SmartSheet – Intuitive project timeline creator with dependent due dates. https://www.smartsheet.com/
Inbox and Calendar labels – Use colored tabs and folders to organize your messages and appointments. Gmail and Google calendar have this feature, as do most other email and calendar apps.
These helpful apps and tools will help organize your goals, and hopefully make it easier and a little fun as you make progress on each mini-mission. If you feel like you need ongoing help to reach your mission statements, and some coaching or accountability as you move toward your goals, give me a call to discuss professional coaching. I’d love to help you meet your High-Heeled Success® and then some!
*Source: University of Scranton. Journal of Psychology study, January 1, 2014.
©Copyright 2015. Kay Fittes. All Rights Reserved.