After returning back to Los Angeles from a long, restorative, holiday, hiatus in Michigan, I took one look at my 2018 vision board and ripped it down. Not one of the “goals and visions” I had set for last year came to fruition. Sounds desperate, right? Disappointing for sure.
But I’m not upset or disappointed that I didn’t get to achieve everything on my vision board (okay getting a house would have been nice!) because 2018 was a great year with amazing adventures — especially the ones that took me off my beaten path. One of those little beaten paths was the learning the importance of striving and pushing for goals with a proper plan in place. A plan that is grounded in routine is one that truly offers peace and satisfaction.
So as 2019 winds up, I find that I have a lot of the same goals and hopes from last year. And I’m going to lean into routines, not resolutions, to see them through!
There is comfort in implementing a doable, daily routine you can fall back on, even when you’re not feeling it. Lean in to the routine! It will reward you!
We’re all spinning many plates. But when you break it down, your professional lives and personal lives can be handled through project management. For the sake of this article, I’m going to focus on routines for your professional life. But you can do the same concept with goals in your personal life (i.e. running that marathon, planning that family trip, reading a book a month, finishing that ginormous puzzle!).
First, write down the work projects you have for the next 6-12 months.
Now, prioritize them. What has to be done first, second, third…. what can wait til next week? Next month? Later in the year?
Take the top ones you need to work on first and break them down into smaller time chunks and tasks.
Then, create a “to do” list for the following week. What do you need to do on each project in the next week.
When the week is over, take inventory. Did you finish? Are there things you need to carry over into the next week? Did new tasks pop up?
Start over and write down next weeks’ “to do”. And so on. And so on. Week after week. Soon, you’ve written a novel, planned a trip, launched a website, created a newsletter! You’ve eaten the whole elephant, one bite at a time.
Next, learn to harness your time. Use the time blocking technique. Spend 80 percent of your time on your strengths and income earning skills. Use 20 percent of your time on the other stuff you have to do keep your business running. For example, in a 40 hour work week, I should be spending 32 hours of that time on writing projects, writing meetings, and generating new projects and ideas. The remaining 8 hours of the week I use on marketing and outreach to keep my business running and generate more business.
I usually have no problem filling my 32 hours of writing and could (and do) usually put in more than 32 hours on my writing. Where I struggle– as do most entrepreneurs– is with the other 20 percent. That marketing beast that constantly needs to be fed!
So… let’s break down that 20 percent even further with the 15 minute rule. I’m pretty useless if I don’t spend a little quiet time each day before I get started. So I use 15 minutes a day for prayer/meditation/journaling. Then, I schedule 15 minutes a day on outreach/networking task. Another 15 minutes a day on marketing yourself (social media, newsletter, blog, etc). And finally, I take 15 minutes a day to track my bookkeeping. Of course, there are days when I go over the 15 minutes. That’s fine, as long as I’m not spending more than 2 hours/day on these tasks. (Remember the 80/20 rule!)
Last and most importantly! Remember to schedule in “Me Blocks” of time every week. These are 2-4 hour blocks of time where you can recharge. I call them “Artist’s Dates.” Take yourself on a date to get a massage, a mani, see a movie, cook something new, go kayaking, take a long hike, bake a loaf of bread, read a book, or go to a museum.
I like to revisit my to do list at the beginning of each day to set my intentions and directions and make any adjustments. Life happens. Plans change. Meetings come up. Sickness befalls us. It won’t run perfectly, and that’s okay.
One last thing I must address is flexibility. Your goals and visions for the coming 12 months may shift, derail, or take a back seat. That’s okay. Others will take their place. That’s okay, too. Good news! You still have your system in place! Lean in to the routine. I think you’ll also find that established routines allow you the flexibility you’re going to need as your plans, goals, and visions morph during the course of a year.
I believe in living a purposeful, meaning-filled life. And I believe in having goals and visions. I have lots of them! And I believe strongly that the path to our goals and visions in set in the well-laid plans we make for them. And that those routines we set up help us implement those plans.
Have grace and patience with yourself as you get started in your new routines. Take inventory at the end of each week and each month to see how much you’ve accomplished of your goals. I think you’ll find it inspiring!
Have a beautiful start to your 2019!