How many times have you set a goal at the start of the new year and practically forgotten about it halfway through?
Goals are like flowers – you can’t just plant the seeds and walk away. You need to tend to them, check in on them, and cultivate them.
The best way to tend to your goals is to evaluate them at least every three months. Even the most basic review will keep them fresh in your mind. Here’s why:
You Renew Your Commitment
You know that motivation you feel when you kick off your New Year’s resolutions? It’s usually enough to power you through the first few weeks at least.
Checking in on your goals once a quarter is like giving yourself a restart button. Imagine having that invigorating burst of focus three more times in a year. If nothing else, it will get you that much closer to achieving your goals.
Start by reviewing your list of goals. For each one, remind yourself why you set it and what you have to gain by reaching it. Then either continue your current plan of action or create a new one. Commit to those new steps and surround yourself with inspiration.
You Make Adjustments
It’s easy to have grand plans at the start of the year. But sometimes those plans aren’t as realistic as you thought. Or they just aren’t as effective as you thought.
Looking over your goals every few months gives you the opportunity to review what’s working and what’s not. This is the only way you can make adjustments that will really have an impact.
If it’s not working, you have a few options:
- Adjust your plan of action. Maybe you expected to workout for an hour each day and realized you just don’t have the time. So instead you could change your plan to working out for 30 minutes or an hour three times per week.
- Adjust the goal itself. Maybe you set a goal of saving up for your dream house within in the year. Halfway though you realize it’s just not feasible in that time frame. So instead you change your objective to saving half of the down payment.
- Adjust your mindset. Maybe you were excited to start fresh but lost motivation when things didn’t progress as quickly as you wanted. This is a great time to build up your support system and recommit.
On the other hand, perhaps your progress is going better than you thought. You may have even reached your goal already. In this case you have two options:
- Stretch your goal. Maybe you set a business goal of reaching $50,000 in sales but you’re already at $60,000. Why not stretch your goal to $100,000 and see if you can push yourself that much further.
- Celebrate and move on to other goals. If you’ve reached your goal and you’re content with it, hooray! Put that one aside and make one of your others a priority.
Speaking of celebration…
You Celebrate More Successes
Most people prefer instant gratification over waiting on progress. Waiting is hard – you put in all this effort and for a while you may not even know if it’s paying off. When progress is slow we lose confidence in our abilities and willpower.
Performing a quarterly check-in gives you the chance to take a look back at how far you’ve come in the past three months. Celebrate the wins, even if they’re small. And if you haven’t reached any milestones yet, celebrate the effort you’ve put in so far.
If it helps you, set up a reward for reaching each milestone. Plan it at the start of the year so you know what you have to look forward to.
You Keep Yourself on a Deadline
It’s easy to procrastinate when you feel like you have an entire year ahead of you. You start off with your action steps on your to do list, but they quickly get pushed to the next day, and the next day, and the next day, because they don’t feel time-sensitive.
When you set three month milestones you’ve suddenly narrowed your schedule. Instead of having 365 days to reach a goal, you now have only 90. You can even narrow that down further into monthly goals. This keeps you focused on making your goals a priority in your life.
Creating Quarterly Goal Reviews
So how do you set up these check-ins? Here’s how to get started:
- Schedule four reviews in your calendar. Set reminders and consider them mandatory appointments with yourself.
- Break your larger goals into 2-4 milestones. These are stepping stones to your overall objectives. Assign them to each quarter.
- During each quarterly review, ask yourself the following:
- Why do I want to reach this goal?
- What progress have I made so far? Have I reached my goal?
- What has been working? How can I keep this up?
- What hasn’t been working? How can I make adjustments?
- What am I grateful for in the past three months?
- What is my new plan of action?
- Update your calendars with your new plans.
Keep cultivating those goals and you’re sure to make those dreams come true!