Finding a mid year check-in mechanism that works for you

Most people project their wishful thinking into a bucket of New Years Resolutions… which, if not followed by basic personal development skills, eventually falls out of the holes of could’ve, would’ve, should’ve…
But if you’re reading this blog, you’re not like most people. You care about your life and your future and understand that if things need to change in your life, you’re the one to make it happen.
So I’m making certain assumptions as I provide the following guidelines:
1. You actually have a set of targets in the critical areas of your life for 2017.
2. You currently have a personal development plan, with measurable outcomes in place.
3. You have been tweaking your introspection and evaluation tools.
I generally have to manage my anxiety levels when it comes to mid-year or end of the year. (Oh who am I kidding, I have to manage my anxiety levels every week because I don’t want to waste my life. One of the sessions with a coach, where she helped me see how little time we actually have, really freaked me out. Yes I know, I might be a little hardcore about this, hence the blog. Moving on.)
                            The amount of time – in weeks – we actually have (scary, huh)?
Last year, I realised that it works better for me if I do a mini-evaluation at the end of each quarter. This seems to be the pattern that has repeated in my life and so I decided to lean into it instead of adopting someone else’s system that might not be the best fit for my personality and the way I function. I later discovered that the ’12 week year’ is actually a thing. Lucky me.
I try to do a weekly evaluation but what’s actually been working for me recently is a daily check-in that I do before bedtime. It’s a simple spreadsheet that I update on my phone and over the past three weeks, this has become a habit. The days go by so quickly that we barely have time to appreciate all the life and love that we have been gifted with. So, as a writer, this has been a great tool for me because it forms a mini-narrative of my life and I can instantly look back on Tuesday last week and muse about what has transpired since then. (And I can bug my husband with the details).
At the end of last year, I spent a few days reflecting on my targets* over the past year and came up with an extensive list of targets in the following key areas of my life: Spiritual, Character, Health, Relationships, Career and Finances. These are the categories that have been the strongest areas of investment over the years.
I’ve had to simplify my targets. I was doing too much but didn’t want to admit that to myself (#Superwomantendencies). The targets that I expressed in writing would only realistically take place over a 3-5 (maybe even 10) year period. And here I was trying to cram everything into one year (and getting annoyed at myself for not making it happen).

So now, I have chiselled the Big Goals down into more doable, bite size pieces and have simplified targets in each focus area.If you haven’t sculpted your personal growth targets yet, don’t wait until New Years Eve to kick it off. Here’s a good list of questions (thanks to Valorie Burton) to ask yourself if you don’t know where to start:

1.What am I most proud of this year?
2. What is the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year?
3. What is the most meaningful milestone I can accomplish this year?
4. What would make it easier for me to reach that milestone?
Adaptive, not prescriptive
The key to developing an effective check-in process for yourself is that you need to design it to work for you. Anything that you try to put in place that will have you feeling like you’re working against yourself is doomed to fail. So be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself the space and time to reflect and adapt where necessary.
Here’s the guideline I use for my mid year (and quarterly) check-in:
  1. Is my system working?
    • Yes but needs tweaks
      • No, I need to change it
        • What needs to change in order to make information tracking easier?
  2. What has worked?
  3. What have I learned?
  4. What do I need to stop doing?
  5. What do I need to focus more on?
  6. What do I want to visualise as successes at the end of the year (or quarter)?

I have now chipped down my Mount Everest of personal achievement into tiny hills that I feel more confident at being able to climb every day. My targets for the next six months is broken down into daily, weekly and monthly intentions. It primarily serves as a reminder to “stave my distractions and feed my focus.” For me to take meaningful steps towards meeting my targets, means that I need to say no sometimes to social events and to block out writing weekends in my calendar (these words doesn’t magically appear in my sleep).

It means that I have to overcome my ‘internal downer voice’ that mocks me for trying once again to increase my fitness levels (I finally succumbed to signing up with a personal trainer – eat that inner critic!).

I’m also trying to teach myself to be more present in the moment – paying attention to the sound of gravel under my feet, or my husband’s voice while he’s talking (unrelated metaphor). If I miss all the beauty that life offers me today, I will always be chasing what I already have. This is why it’s so important to acknowledge all the baby steps you take along the way.

Celebrate the small wins

I was moaning at my dietician earlier this year about how stuck I am and how nothing I do seems to change. She reminded me that when I first went in to see her last year, I was eating a chocolate a day (that has stopped now) and was only getting to gym once or twice a week (it had since moved to three to four times a week).

The perspective of another person (albeit a paid professional) helped me to get the mindset shift I needed. I am a big picture person, so the vision of the future, the ideal, is to tangible and real that I constantly have to manage frustration at the ever-imperfect present). Yes, of course I wrote a blog post about my struggles.

There were many things that happened this year that came as a result of my intent (although not in the way that I expected). So I’m learning to recognise (and appreciate) the tiny signposts along the way that confirm that I’m headed in the right direction.

Then again, you need to know what direction you want your life to go – otherwise how will you know when you get there?

I hope this has helped to inspire you to a) get some targets if you don’t have any already or b) get excited again about re-aligning your daily activities so that you keep moving forward along your path of person greatness. Leave some comments/suggestions below 🙂

 

*A few years ago, I stopped having goals and started working towards targets. (This post on Linkedin by a local entrepreneur I respect inspired this shift http://bit.ly/2sDLGzt )

 

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