“Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you will land among the stars.” – Norman Vincent Peale
I’m sitting at my desk sipping on a barely warm cup of hibiscus tea, looking at the gray skies beyond, and pondering life. Nothing dramatic, more of a cerebral thought process. The cold hard facts, where I’ve been, where I am going.
I do this often, look back at the last month (or two, if I’m behind), and reassess my work. Readjust my goals. It keeps me on track, kind of like balancing a checkbook. If we wait too long, it just gets messy, right? Complicated. But stay on top of it, and it’s easier to catch mistakes.
An assessment is simple. All it requires is a few moments of time, and the willingness to be honest about life. I discovered this approach after one more time of trying to make resolutions.
Resolutions never worked for me. I’d write them down with determined fervor at the end of each year, waiting for the tick of the clock, that turn of the calendar that said it was time to begin.
When the new year came, I was off. Excited. Invigorated. But you know what happened? Within a week, or two, I lost focus. Lost steam. My resolutions, my goals, my dreams, they vanished. Because goals don’t work without a plan, or a way of tracking accomplishments.
It was then that I began a process I call Monthly Goal Planning, and since I’ve started, I’m seeing my goals completed.
It goes like this:
First: I ask myself, “What did I accomplish last month?” I look over my daily achievements, recorded on a simple Word document with two columns: Date, and Work Accomplished.
The idea of this is that I can see continuous motion towards my goal, even if some of my daily activities are small.
Next: I ask myself, “Am I where I want to be? Did I accomplish what I wanted? If not, why?”
Honestly, I’m never where I want to be. That little perfectionist that sits on my shoulder is always striving for more. I need to look at this question objectively. Am I not where I want to be because I didn’t do enough, or is it because I expected too much?
If it’s not because I didn’t do enough, I need to figure out why. Were there commitments that prevented me from working? Was I sick? Or just plain lazy?
Last: “What are my goals for next month? What do I need to do to get there?”
It may be that I need to work an extra hour each day, or take more time getting to know others in my field. I write down my goals, and my plans to achieve them.
Let’s try this with a few example goals:
Say you want to lose twenty pounds and write a novel. Two admirable, and doable, goals.
First: “What did you accomplish last month?”
For the first month, you will write, “Set Goal.” (Hey, it’s a start!)
Each time you achieve something, write it down. It can be as little as, “Drank a glass of water in place of soda,” or as big as, “Wrote 2000 words.” Anything, and everything, should be written down.
This is your diary. Your path to the future. Your key to your past. It is your goal-maker, and life-changer. Use it. Big or small, every achievement is one step closer to your goal.
Accomplishments can be recorded in multiple ways: The Word document I mentioned above, in a FB group, with an accountability partner, on a calendar, a sheet of paper laying on your desk, a small notebook, or even on your phone. Make it simple, and keep it in a place you can easily access.
Next: “Am I where I want to be? If not, why?”
Be easy on yourself, especially the first month – you’ve just begun.
I tend to aim high. I’ve found that the higher I aim, the more I accomplish. Even if I don’t reach my goal, I’m still closer than I would have been if I’d never set one.
For instance, at the beginning of this year, I set a goal of reading one book per week, fifty-two books in a year, an insane goal for me. I am on book eighteen, behind where I wanted to be, but further than I would have been without any goals.
Last: “What are your goals for the next month? What do you need to do to get there?”
What can be done to get you closer to your final goal?
Will you write daily? Get up early and work-out? Bring healthy meals from home? Join a writing group? Write it down.
It doesn’t take much planning or preparing to achieve a goal. It only takes dreams, a vision, and a way of recording it all, be it big or small.
I would love to hear how this works for you. Drop me a line, or comment below.
These are your goals, and yours alone. They belong to no one. Dream big. Aim high. And always shoot for that moon.