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7 Steps to Catching Up if You’re Already Falling Behind in 2018

Here we are, a couple of weeks into the New Year and some of you may feel like you haven’t necessarily ‘hit the ground running.’ If you feel like your opportunity for a fresh start – to do things a little differently – is passing you by, DON’T. Whether it’s 10 days or 3 months in, it’s never too late to start where you are, make a plan, and get some help. Here’s how …

Let me start by proclaiming that I don’t believe in resolutions. Resolutions are built around willpower, motivation and desire, but real lasting change must be built around mindset, really good planning, and accountability.

There’s something about the word resolution that feels too final to me, like there’s no room for adjustment based on changing circumstances. Beyond that, we put so much pressure on ourselves with resolutions to change really quickly or change really big things and then we don’t follow through because we haven’t planned properly for how to achieve such big change. Then we beat ourselves up for it. And that feels terrible. So, I simply don’t do it that way anymore.

But, obviously, I do believe in change. I do believe in making commitments to oneself to become better – better at your job, better at your business, a better leader, a better human. I just think we need to go about it in a gentler way. Following are 7 steps to catching up and planning that change properly so it’s more likely to stick, so you don’t find yourself overwhelmed, and so you don’t trick yourself into failing ahead of time or just not showing up.  

1.     First, find a quiet place where you won't be distracted and get out the biggest piece of paper or biggest square of whiteboard you can find (a Word or Google doc will also work, but some of us find it more fun to be physical with our creative ideas.) Bust out your sharpies, or crayons if you prefer, and prepare to get creative!

2.     Make a list of all the things you’d like to accomplish by the end of this year (this can obviously also be applied to shorter or longer time frames as well). DO NOT edit. Write down everything you can think of … even things that seem impossible right now. Don’t let your brain intervene and tell you why it’s a bad idea and won’t work before you even get started. Just write it ALL down.

3.     Now, pick ONE Thing to focus on for the time being. We all know by now that multi-tasking wastes time, and if you’ve read The ONE Thing by Gary Keller, you understand that perfect balance doesn’t exist (if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it!) So, in this exercise the goal is to try to pick one item “such that by doing it, everything else becomes easier or unnecessary.” You could pick one thing for each of the various areas of your life, but since we focus mainly on small business here and we’re trying to keep things simple, just focus there for now.

4.     Create a roadmap. Goals don’t mean a thing without a strategy to achieve them. So take that ONE Thing and divide it into smaller progress goals as appropriate. Now, pick ONE of those progress goals to tackle in the next 90 days. Ignore the others for the time being, you'll come back to those when you start planning for the next quarter. Now take that progress goal and divide it into specific actions and tasks. Which of those could you achieve in the next 30 days? Focus on those and give each action a deadline and a time limit. I'll talk more about time limits in a future post, but in terms of daily planning this is incredibly important for keeping yourself on track – just liken it to taking a test in school: time's up, pencils down! Because when it comes to keeping up momentum in your small business, done is far more important than perfect!!

5.     Identify the qualities or skills you will need to develop to meet your goal. Make a plan to develop these, or outsource them and schedule this into your 90-day plan. Make commitments to yourself to get these things accomplished, and if you can’t keep a commitment to yourself yet, find a coach or accountability partner to help you. As you begin keeping even the smallest commitments, you build this muscle, and the reward of every small success will encourage you to keep going.

6.     Be prepared to fail and be gentle with yourself about it when you do! By this, I don’t mean avoiding showing up so that you don’t even have a chance to fail. I mean put yourself out there and actually count your failed attempts as learnings. Embrace the pain that is part of the process. Don’t let it deter you. I’ve even started keeping a list of failures … going for a minimum of 25 per quarter. When something I’ve attempted and put my all into doesn’t work, it goes on the list like a gold star. Learning is something to be proud of!

7.     Get to WORK! Follow the steps you’ve lined out, and check in with yourself at daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly intervals to make adjustments and course corrections along the way. At the end of the first 30 days, do a reality check. Do you need to make course corrections to make your first 90-day progress goal? If so, make them! Then make sure to repeat the 90-day planning process for the next quarter. Regular check-ins and course corrections make all the difference. Not sure you can do it? Check out the best rant I’ve ever heard about work ethic … maybe brutal, but I think you can handle it.

But here's an even better hint: I use the Self Journal from Best Self Co. to keep me on track for my 90-day stints. Breaking year-long goals into quarterly chunks allows my brain to see them as more manageable. This also allows me to keep track of my goals and progress in a simple format, and I keep myself accountable by reviewing at regularly scheduled intervals. Each morning, I ask myself: “What is my ONE Thing today that if I accomplish it, everything else will become easier or unnecessary?” And if there are other things that fall outside that scope, I think about how I might contract them out or simply eliminate them. Deciding what you’re NOT going to do is nearly as important as deciding what you ARE going to do.

Remember, no plan is perfect, and it will likely change over the course of time. This is a beautiful thing. The point is, you know where you’re going. The road to get there may change based on changing circumstances. And I know this framework may sound oversimplified, but I swear it works!

I’ll be the first to admit that staying accountable to oneself is a challenge. That’s why I employ the help of coaches in various areas of my business to keep me on track. Yes, coaches have coaches, same as therapists go to therapy. It's all about practicing what we preach around here! 

So, here's to a fresh start in 2018 ... even if you were feeling a little late to the game!

Need help pulling all this together and staying accountable? Click here to set up a free 30-minute mini-coaching session, where I’ll help you create a crystal clear vision for what you what to achieve this year, we’ll uncover the blocks that stand in your way, and make sure you leave with a strategy for moving forward and achieving your ultimate success, once and for all!