My husband and I were recently having a frank conversation about our commitments. More accurately, we were discussing my increasing number of commitments.
“Reg, this is a zero-sum game,” he reminded me. I knew exactly what he meant. I could not add more to my proverbial plate without outsourcing some of what I already managed. Or, as he so delicately put it, I would end up with a nervous breakdown! His point was that we need to prepare for the additional responsibilities by making decisions that will alleviate pressure and stress. I so appreciate his forethought.
Our chat has been marinating in my mind for a couple of weeks. And as we come to the close of Q1, I’ve been particularly conscious of time, how I am spending it and how I am preparing for the next step…Q2, when my increase begins.
I thought I’d share my preparation process with you. I hope this method lights a fire in you. That you find it helpful as you get ready for the next season of your business and life, whether you anticipate a busier one or not. It is always important to prepare!
Identify and Adjust
Examine the past three months…both in your professional and personal life. Review your initial goals set early in the year. Choose one area. Identify where you are in your pursuit of that objective. Is there a gap between where you are and where you intended to be or want to be? Ask yourself: "What is working? What’s broken? What’s missing? What’s confusing?" Create a list of 5 or so items to answer each question.
Take time with these questions. Be as honest as possible with yourself. Then, ask, “What can I learn from these revelations?” Then, repeat this process with other areas of your life or other goals.
After cutting back on my activities for about one year, then ramping back up with my business and other commitments, I have learned from doing this exercise what and how to amplify what is working, fix what is broken, clarify the confusing, and add what is missing. I use this list to populate my action items and to inform the tweaks to my goals plan.
It is critical to slow down if you feel overwhelmed by the action list. Take a day or a few days to just consider the different strategies that emerge from the exercise.
Then, decide which action items would enable you to make significant progress toward your goals. Try to select three or less. This will allow you to focus on your top priorities for the next quarter, building momentum toward your overall goals.
In my review (which is still in progress), I realized that taking better care of myself is critical…specifically, I need to begin an exercise routine that will allow me to relieve stress, generate energy, and lose weight. For Q2, that is one of my top three. (More on that in a future post.)
Execute and Measure
Take your top priorities and set yourself up for success. Open your calendar for the next quarter. Consider: “How will I make room to amplify, fix, clarify, and add?” Maybe you need to wake up fifteen minutes earlier to incorporate light stretching into your daily regimen. (Your body will thank you…try it.) Or you could begin to make your coffee at home to save yourself the time and money you spend at Starbucks every morning. The point is to make room for the execution of your action list.
WARNING: Do not simply add actions to an already lengthy list.
I have been there. Hence, my husband’s expressions of concern. Remind yourself that the execution of one thing may require the delay of another item to be done. Give yourself permission to make the choice and be good with it!
Also, define what “winning” looks like to you. Only by determining your win-zone at the start will you be able to know when you’ve hit it. For me, growing stronger during my workouts and having more energy is winning. Losing some weight is a bonus win!
Progress cannot be verified without measurement. As a teacher, I always took baseline assessments at the start of the school year to both inform my curricular adjustments and have a point of comparison for future benchmarks. The process of asking the four questions is your baseline for this next quarter.
Now, monitor your growth. Do daily or weekly reviews. Reflection is one of the most underused tools that we can employ to improve our progress in life. Use it! Consistent follow-up and follow-through result in progress.
As I break into a happy dance for the amazing learning journey that was Q1 for me, I am over the moon about Q2! 😊 I'm continuing my pursuit of limitlessness, y'all. The lid is off!
Who’s with me???
Until next time…