How to Take Action & When To Adjust Course
If you’ve already read the blog this year, you’ll know I created a five-part series designed to help you set a solid foundation with actionable steps to achieve your most important goals. This is because I want you to be successful at achieving what’s most important to you in the new year.
If you have important goals for the coming year, you’ve struggled to achieve what you set out to in the past, or if you’re feeling a little unclear as to what your goals are, the good news is that there are simple, effective techniques that do work.
I invite you to take a few minutes each week to set yourself up for success as you define it in the new year. To be sure you don’t miss a week, simply drop your email in here.
These steps are powerful whether you’ve got big changes to make or your life is pretty good and you’re ready to take it up a notch.
If you haven’t read or completed Step One: Be Strategic and Step Two: Be Specific, you’ll want to do these first. Allow yourself a few minutes to take stock of where you are, to consider how you want to feel and act differently – so that you can bring your best out at work and live a more satisfying life.
Once you’ve completed the first two steps, you’re ready to take action and begin to track your progress. This is where your actions and commitments gain momentum and you decide what will best support you in the months ahead.
STEP THREE: Be Steady & Structured
Sometimes with resolutions, we write them down and then don’t come back to them. It’s great to set a clear intention or goal, but if we’re not taking regular action toward our highest priorities, not much will change.
Achieving important goals takes more than intention or even commitment. You need to take action and check-in regularly.
This helps you know when things are on track and also when it’s time to adjust course.
I can hear some of you groaning now. I know that the thought of being structured and steady is not all that exciting. It may even sound downright restrictive.
But I experience it slightly differently. Having some consistency and structure doesn’t mean you do the same old thing every day. In fact, although there is consistency in the type of work I do and in my daily habits, it’s rare that I have a typical day, much less a typical month or year. I was in 15 different cities for work and for play during the course of the past year alone, some of them multiple times.
Whether you’re a frequent traveler or not, I’m willing to bet that you’d also find it hard to describe a “typical” day or week. Those variations are part of what makes life interesting and exciting – and yes, sometimes more challenging than we’d like!
That said, there are certain structures and habits – like getting enough sleep, meditating, staying hydrated, eating fresh, healthy foods and exercising – that I’ve learned will help me show up at my best wherever it is that I am and whatever it is that I’m doing.
There are other practices – like reviewing weekly priorities; checking those against my major themes for the year; and checking in with those that I am closest to – that help me know if I’m in alignment with what’s most important or if it’s time to adjust course.
It’s important to figure out how YOU work best and build your own structure around that.
When we have some steadiness and structure, this sets up a foundation for success and productivity that not only helps us get traction on what’s most important, but also creates the space to enjoy more free, unstructured time, to take care of ourselves and to be with loved ones.
Downtime can seem like an elusive luxury despite multiple studies showing how we all perform better with more downtime. The reality is we’re at our best when we have some balance between expending our energy and regularly renewing our energy.
When you commit to regularly re-fueling yourself, you’re creating a happier, more effective and more empowered version of you. This has a ripple effect. It filters through to those you care most about: your customers, your colleagues, your team, your family and friends.
Being structured and steady is not just about checking in with your actions and intentions. It’s also about an awareness of your own energy, attending to your own human resources – and how you show up each day.
So although there are fundamental needs we all share, it’s important that you consider what works best for you. If you’re at your best early in the morning, use that time for your most important activities. If you have children, you’ll probably want to schedule focused work when you aren’t around the kids. If you value spaciousness in your day, it’s important that your schedule supports that.
Here are a few practices to consider:
- Have a morning ritual. This could be a walk or jog outside, silent meditation, a gratitude practice or taking the time to decide what you’ll do that day to move in the direction of your most important goals.
- Check in with how you’re feeling. Our emotions are an important guidance system that can show us when we’re aligned as well as when we may need to adjust course.
- Focus on the next 90 days. While planning for the year can be overwhelming, most of us can manage a handful of smaller goals that we’re committed to over the next few weeks and months. This also gives you the chance to try something out before committing to a particular path in a bigger way.
- Schedule your priority actions. Place them on your calendar. Commit to them as you would any customer appointment, social engagement or team meeting. Put a recurring time to check in on your own progress in your calendar.
- Review and update your to-do list regularly. Do this at the start and end of each day or week. Are your actions aligned with your most important outcomes? Move the things you didn’t get done (that are truly priorities) forward to the next day or week.
- Use sticky notes. A few well-placed, brightly colored sticky notes can be an encouraging reminder during a busy day of your most important intentions.
- Get accountable. Connect with a trusted colleague, coach or friend who can serve as your accountability partner.
- Use an app or tool. There are lots of options such as Goals on Track or HabitList to remind you of your commitments.
I encourage you to find a practice or two and stay with it for at least a month. When you are steady in this way, you’ll also be able to see where you’re doing things that aren’t so aligned with your intentions. When you notice this (and expect it to happen, we are all human and we can also count on life to bring us unexpected experiences), it’s a good opportunity to ask if it’s truly important.
If you’re not getting a big “yes” to that question: Could it be placed in a “parking lot” instead – a list of things you’d like to do at a later time, once your most important commitments are met? Personally, I’d like to learn to speak Spanish but it’s not a top priority for me this year so it’s in the parking lot. Could it even be placed on your “not-to-do” list so as not to distract from your most important outcomes?
It can be tempting to say yes to every opportunity or request but it’s really hard to do that and maintain your sanity – much less enjoy the pace of your days.
How will you check in regularly to see if you’re making progress toward what’s most important? What habits will serve you each day to move in the direction of your most important goals? What steady actions could make this your best year yet?
Remember that when you are on the threshold of making changes, it can be supportive to talk about your thoughts, goals and feelings with a trusted friend, family member, colleague, or even with a skilled professional who can help you make sense of what is going on – as well as what steps are most effective to help you achieve what you’ve set out to.
For a little extra motivation and to make sure you don’t miss a step in this five-part series: drop your email in here. Each week the next step will be delivered to your inbox.
If you are looking for professional guidance, I am here to help. Contact me to learn more and to see if you qualify for a complimentary strategy session.
You can also learn more about me, read more blog posts, download free tips to create a business and a life you love, or check out the stories of people who have worked with me.
Read on for How to Practice Self-Kindness for Powerful Results: Step Four in Make This Your Best Year Yet.