Every year when December rolls around, I get super excited. Not just because Christmas is around the corner, but because it’s time to think about my New Years Resolutions. And I am big with those. So every year I grab my notebook and take time to write down my goals and … nothing. Until last year I simply wrote down my list and never actually got around to really accomplish any of them. I was one of those 80% who’s New Years resolutions lasted less than three months.
But this year I realized that while I was big at thinking about my goals, I never took the time to actually plan them out and create action steps. As I became aware of that, I realized that there were two main problems: I never thought of action steps to achieve my goals and I never broke them down.
Let me give you an example as probably most of you girls are familiar with: I decided that I wanted to lose weight. And maybe I even thought of how I would do that: by reducing my carbohydrates, but I never thought about what it would mean on a month-to-month basis.
I never set any sub-goals like “In January I will lose the first kilogram” or “in February I will go on a run every week.” I never thought about which action steps would step by step help me to accomplish my goals.
So as I realized, I began to bring my attention and awareness to this, trying to figure out a way to make myself accountable and be successful with my goals. Pretty quickly I understood that one of the best ways to do so was by working with monthly goals. But I knew that just writing them down would give me the same effect as I had with my New Year’s Resolutions.
So instead I played around with them and created a little master list of 8 action steps to create a successful list of monthly goals which I want to share with you today – right in time for June. So let’s start, shall we?
Create a theme for the month
As I started to work and play around with my monthly list of goals, I realized that every month’s goals seemed to have an overall topic. For instance, January was all about setting things up, creating routines, starting to truly work with my monthly goals.
February on the other hand was all about waking up early and creating a morning routine. And so every month had its own topic. While it was a natural process at the beginning I realized what a big impact it had on how successful I accomplished my monthly goals. Most of all it brings you focus. It clarifies where you want to head over the next 30 days.
You know when you read about goals and getting things done everyone always stresses about your why behind it? Well this has a similar effect. Giving your month a theme will instantly guide you in one direction, a direction that you gave. It will help you decide whether to do A or B because you will know whether or not it will serve the theme of the month.
So your theme is pretty much your fuel for the next 30 days. Now where do you want to go? What is the overall topic for you in June?
Brain dump your ideas
It all starts with a brain dump, right? I don’t know about you, but brain dumping every thought and action is one of my favorite things to do whenever I feel overwhelmed in a situation or in this case when I am about to plan something. So before I start to write out my pretty list of monthly goals, I will take a big piece of paper and write out every thing I want to do and get down and then….
Narrow it down
…I prioritize. Most of the time so many different things come to my mind that I know I won’t ever get done in the course of one month or that I might not be ready to work on yet. So I need to prioritize.
A brain dump is never a final, perfectly structured product. Instead, its a dump that you will need to sort through right now. Which brings me back to the first point. If you set up a topic for your month you know where you want to go and you will know what items on the list can be transferred to your list of monthly goals. You will know whether to read book A or book B because you will know what topic your will focus on next month.
Write your master list
Now that you’ve brain dumped all of your ideas and narrowed down what you actually want and need to get done, it is time to write you list. You might want to color code it, you might write it in your bullet journal or maybe in your Filofax. This one is up to you since it really depends on your own style and what you like.
I personally love a well-written, pretty list, as I tend to become a bit of a perfectionist about my own handwriting and I know that I will like my list a lot better that way. And now that we are already talking about look, let’s head to the next point.
Make it visible
Now I don’t know about you, but I know that I will forget about all my well-thought out to-dos if I don’t look at it. “Out of sight, out of mind” is true for me and probably most of you too. So, you need to make your list visible, you can put it somewhere that you will look at it and remind yourself of this month’s themes and the to-dos you choose to work on. This will probably be in your agenda, but you could also pin it above your desk or make a copy of it and put it on your bedside table. It doesn’t matter where you put it as long as it is a place you know you will look at it day after day.
Share it with someone
As I started to play around with the idea to really get working with monthly goals and to-dos, I quickly decided to share my goals with my readers on my blog. And I am still surprised what a big difference it made. While I don’t care how successful I look in front of my readers, I truly care that this idea forces me to really go through every goal and write “success, no success or semi-success” behind it. I have to draw a balance.
Now I know that not all of you are blogging or feel comfortable sharing this personal information (I know I wasn’t at first) and I am not saying that you need to share it with the whole world, but how about your best friend? Tell her that you want to start getting things done and that you need her help to make yourself accountable. Who knows, maybe she gets so inspired that she’ll want to start as well?
Do a mid-month check in
As I said before, a master list of goals is only as good as the times you look at it. And as I was playing around with this idea, I witnessed over and over again that around the middle of the month, I would get a little lost about my goals and what I actually wanted to get done.
So I started to do a mid-month check in. Around the 15th of each month, I take a couple of minutes and look over my master list, my agenda from the last month and everything I may have written down and draw a little balance of the last two weeks.
Depending on my mood and how I feel at the moment, I might even pull out my vision board and my overall goals in life to bring my awareness back to why I am doing what I am doing. But as I said, this is something I sometimes, but definitely don’t always do.
A little extra tip: Set up a reminder in your calendar around the 15th of the month to remind you to schedule in an hour or so to do a little mid-month check in. This can actually become quite a nice routine. For instance, you could always go to your favorite café, treat yourself with a coffee and do your mid-month check in right there.
Explore and try it out
In the end, I really think that no matter all the tips that I give right here, you need to explore and try this idea out for yourself. What I wrote here is just a suggestion, inspiration and a little guide to help you start.
Once you start setting up your monthly goals, see how it feels. Change things up if you need to. Play around with it. Don’t see your monthly goals as stress and pressure and see it more as a fun game.
A few question to help you get that exploration mode on: How many task in a month can you handle? Is your list overwhelming and is that why you don’t get things done? Or is it maybe not challenging enough?