By now, you’ve read a million and one things about New Year’s resolutions. It’s everywhere around you, and it’s probably going to be everywhere well into February. You’ve heard a lot of views on how to approach (or not approach) them, or even how New Year’s resolutions are really just a waste of time, yadda, yadda.
Maybe you believe in resolutions – and click on the link to every related post, trying to find that one that resonates with your brand of person – or maybe you’re the anti-resolution type, and groan at the sight of yet another link telling you how to make them. Either way, you have to have some sort of plan on how you’re approaching your life this year, and this plan is going to need some work to work.
Last week, I wrote about being intentional, and the summary of that post was: Why do you want to do what you want to do? Period. The whole point of intentionally exploring the motivations behind your goals or resolutions is to figure out why they are important, and if they should be on your list at all (you can catch up on that post here).
If you’re all caught up, and you have all your “whys” in order, it’s time to start doing! It’s time to go back to your newly improved plan and start to follow it, diligently.
But where do you start?
If you have a simple plan, then this question is not really a problem. But if you have a plan with a lot of goals, your project – a year is technically one big project to me – can feel pretty overwhelming. Hence, as with every large, long-term project you have to break down your plan into smaller tasks.
For instance, if you wanted to build a house, you would have to grade and prepare, construct the foundation, make the frame, install roofing, etc. You wouldn’t try to build the entire house all at once, rather, you’d take it step by step, finishing each section before moving on to the next.
In the same vein, you can’t work on all of your goals at the same time. If you try to do this, you’ll burn out before you can even say February. So you have to pace yourself, and a good principle to apply here is to get a queue.
What is this queue? This is simply a list of the most important projects (read goals) you will like to complete in a specified time, say a month, or a maybe a quarter (remember, goals must be time bound). The idea is to create a tiny world of focus from the chaos that is your grand plan, so try to keep this list under five items.
You determine how best to go about creating and working through your queue, but to start you can follow the 3-step process below.
- Of the numerous (or few) things you have on your main plan, pick your top two, three, four or five, and set them aside as the primary focus for your specified duration…You can also pick just one.
- Plan to finish 50% of what you have on that queue before you add any new items to it.
- After 50% of the queue is done, add new items to replace the one (or ones) you’ve knocked off.
Every time you complete the cycle (if you’re diligent about it), you will have achieved at least one goal.
An advantage of this method is accountability; you can’t add to the focus queue until you finish something; therefore you must finish. Another advantage is that you are able to celebrate small victories, and achievement breeds motivation and motivation brings about more achievement. Kind of cool, isn’t it? Well then, why don’t you go forth and make yourself a queue today?
“I’ve set personal limits now. If I start five personal projects, I’m not starting a sixth till I’m done with at least one of the five.”
-Anietie Brendan (@anibrendan)