September 30th marked the end of the third quarter of the year. This day coincides with
the end of the nation’s fiscal year and the financial year for some companies. It is a time
when many companies take stock (stocktaking) and prepare their budgets for the
upcoming year after assessing what took place over the past year and how well they did
in relation to the targets set the year before. Others use it as a time to make last minute
adjustments to their strategy for a strong finish to the year. And while most of us usually
wait until the December or January to set goals for the new year, perhaps this is a great
opportunity for us to do some stock taking of our own.
Operating without a detailed plan leaves (too much) room for distractions and can lead
to us getting inundated with tasks, activities and commitments that steal our already
limited and precious time away from the things we really want and need to do.
Further to that, frequently checking in with our plan helps us to keep laser-sharp focus,
ensuring that our time is not wasted and we aren’t stuck on the proverbial hamster
wheel being productively un-productive. You know, always busy but somehow important
tasks aren’t progressing. Sounds familiar?
Well let’s put pen to paper (no, not your Notes App, actual pen to actual paper) and ask
What did I set out to accomplish this year?
Which of my goals was I able to accomplish? What did I do to accomplish them?
Which of my goals was I unable to accomplish? Why?
What are the variables within my power and control that I can adjust to ensure I
accomplish my goals.
After this review is done, make a step-by-step plan of what you need to do to achieve
your goal. Going forward, when making decisions about how to spend your time, you
will also need to consciously rank the importance of each task / project / goal and focus
your time and efforts on the priorities.
Does everything seem equally important? One way to ascribe values is to ask how the
task / project / goal will impact your overarching goal(s). Those tasks which assist with
that goal are important tasks. That said, you usually have urgent tasks as well. An
urgent task could also be an important one, but sometimes it's not the case. In those
times, it's better to prioritize an important but not as urgent task, though the call of the
urgent task may be strong.
So, take some time out this week to sit and recall the goals you set at the beginning
of the year and see where you’re at with each of them. Maybe you need to move some
of them to the back burner (or completely off the stove for the time being) and turn up
the heat on some others. Maybe you need to pivot your focus to maximize the time you
have left and resources in front of you. Maybe you didn’t bother to set goals previously
and need to do so now.
Whatever your current situation, get started! Don’t give up on yourself. Create a vision
board if you have to!
Put your head down, your imaginary blinders on, and get to work.
Planning is important, but action is important-er!