The New Year seems like a great time to make resolutions and goals. There’s a whole new calendar just waiting for action.
But one whole calendar is a long space of time. Is it really smart (or SMART) to resolve to do something for 365 straight days or 52 straight weeks? What happens if we miss one day or one week in March? Is the entire year blown?
Of course it isn’t.
One way to avoid setting ourselves up for feeling like a failure is to break up our goal-setting periods into intervals rather than an entire year. When we set a goal and give ourselves a year to complete it, we are tempted to postpone starting because twelve months seems like a long time, then midyear comes and we’ve forgotten we even had a goal, and then we find our resolution list right around November when the holiday busyness sets in and leaves us no time to work on them.
If we instead break up the year and focus on shorter blocks of time, something like one month or six weeks, then we are always in that “the deadline is almost here” press – procrastination is no longer a viable option. Moreover, we are forced to set baby-step goals: Goals that can be achieved within our shorter interval. This helps prevent us from setting grandiose goals. In January it is easy to let the overachiever in us all be the one in charge of vision setting. Anything is possible in a fresh new year, right? Well, how about within the next 6 weeks – starting Monday? This view forces us to examine where we are now and what we can reasonably expect of ourselves right now to get us moving in the right direction.
So rather than setting lots of big goals for the entire year, look at the year-view calendar and break it up into shorter chunks of time.
Yes, right now, print a year-view calendar. I like this one. Then do this to prepare for a productive year.
Start by marking holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and vacations. Mark the end and beginning of school years. Mark weddings or anything else you’ve saved the date for this year.
This lets you see the hard lines of your year. These dates show us the important people in our lives and lets us take into account celebrations and memory-making opportunities first.
Next, write a note next to any week that already has a project planned.
If you are in charge of some annual event or a committee, if you always do a certain activity during a certain time of year – put that on the year-view calendar.
Before you start adding new goals and projects, get a hard look at what you’re already committed to.
Now, look at the year and decide what time-chunks make sense to you. Draw lines down the side of the calendar weeks you will consider a single interval.
I break up my year into 6-7 week chunks as best I can. This has been a great chunk of time to work on a single habit or accomplish a specific project.
Next, look at the very next interval coming up and make a plan for it.
My series on interval planning will walk you through making a reasonable plan for a short execution burst. Walk through it between each interval and watch your productivity skyrocket.