Garden Gate and Path

(c) 2013 Kathryn Bingham Gate and Path photo All Rights Reserved

Transitioning from year-end to new year tends to prompt thoughts about what we’d like to be different in life and work. Did you craft a list of objectives or resolutions? If so, you’ll need a strategy. Let these five secrets start you on a path toward success.

  1. No change, no change

The first secret to accomplishing your objective—especially when you have either a habit to overcome or an ambitious goal—is to recognize something must change. If past actions and behaviors haven’t lead to the outcome you desire, you will have to adopt a new approach.

  1. Take back your day

I could spend an entire year posting blogs on calendar and productivity hacks. Who wants to wait a year? To get started, read (or reread) my last post on how to focus, choose and delegate. While you’re practicing these techniques, zip on over to Amazon to order Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind [affiliate]. This mini tome is chock full of wisdom from an array of current authors (i.e., Dan Ariely, Seth Godin and Gretchen Rubin, etc.), presented in manageable bites. Manage Your Day-to-Day offers ideas for tapping creativity, curating resources and mindfully executing amidst today’s challenges and distractions.

  1. Winnow down the list

Did you create a laundry list of resolutions? Take a moment, now, to choose the top one or two most important items. This action doesn’t imply the other items are not important; you simply have to prioritize relative importance. Circle your top two, and jot down a few notes to capture why these are critical. Be specific; how do you benefit from completing each of these? Create a Post-it with just the one or two items listed, and make a note in your calendar to revisit the entire list in three months.

  1. Chunk it

Set yourself a reasonably ambitious deadline. Break the objective into chunks and create milestones for tracking your progress. Break the chunks into tasks with expected time requirements. Consider, what knowledge, resources and support do you need in place to succeed? Incorporate planning for these into your tasks and timeline. What are you missing? The “chunk it” concept presupposes you know how to accomplish that goal. Most of us do. We’ve done the research; we have the data. If, however, you don’t, then make that your first step.

  1. Make the execution and progress visible

Choose an integrated task reminder and calendar software (or app) or a “paper” planner, based on your personal style and preference. Tempted to skip this secret? That’s a plan that leads to failure. I love Jeff Goins’ current blog on this very topic. Essentially, Jeff suggests measuring the wrong thing can sabotage our effort and motivation. Clear focus, combined with detailed holistic planning, offers a formula for success. Here’s an abbreviated how to:

  • Holistic Planning – Each of us is given the same amount of time daily; we own our decisions for how we spend this precious currency. Your planner will reveal how you prioritize your self, your family, your working hours, etc. Until you’ve created solid habits supporting the priorities of your life, you need to document all your choices around time.
  • Start with Self Care – Without a solid foundation, you will not have the energy, creativity and stamina to be consistent with your goals. The four minimum commitments you need to make with yourself include sleep, and activities aligning with body, mind and spirit. Click the links to learn more, then block time in your schedule for these critical practices.
  • Prioritize your relationships – Capture all those little things that demonstrate your commitment to home and family. If you’re the dad who preps breakfast and drops kids off at school on your way to work, block the time. If you’re the spouse who handles the groceries, document the time you need to plan and shop. Fill in the extra-curricular activities you support. While this sounds trivial, we often underestimate how these impact our capacity. If you and your partner struggle with an over-abundance of commitments, seeing them in black and white allows you to reevaluate choices.
  • Work hours – You should have one planning mechanism for all your obligations. Lock in hours you commit to your vocation. Within this time block, be sure to identify time required for tasks leading to work-place objectives and priorities, and not simply account for meetings. How often do the demands of your work extend beyond standard hours for your profession? If the answer is too frequently, then ask yourself why. What has to change for you to balance your health, your relationships, your dreams and your current employment?
  • 2015 objectives or resolutions. Now, looking at all of the above, have you reserved time for those items you wrote down from #3 as important? In order to take action, you must allocate time and commit to the incremental tasks leading to your goal. If you’re already overcommitted, start by critically examining how you spend your time. What must you graciously eliminate in order to embrace prioritized objectives? Word to the wise: cutting sleep isn’t one of the options! What will you say no to in order to protect priorities as you move forward?

Using your planner or calendar/task managing tool, begin the process of taking action and tracking your new goals. As we move through the year, we’ll visit options for checking progress, staying the course and celebrating milestones.

What are you seeking to achieve in 2015? How are you setting yourself up for success? Share your thoughts and ideas in the LEADistics Facebook Community!

Thank you for visiting Dr. Kathryn Bingham’s blog! We invite your discussion at LEADistics’ community page. Fans and honest critics are welcomed! Please see our Comments Policy and reuse Permissions on the LEADistics FAQ page. All LEADr Board posts are covered by copyright law, with all rights reserved.