Write Down your Goals, and then Be Intentional


Several years ago, I began writing down my goals at the start of a new year.  My husband had this amazing ability to write out his goals, and meet them systematically, checking them off his list, one by one.  I was inspired by his drive, and it seemed like a great way to organize these thoughts floating around in my head of “someday” accomplishments.  Not to mention that he got so many things done!

The first few years, I diligently composed my tidy list of goals.  I would come across them around summertime, and look at them once again in December and remind myself what I had written.  But I had written them down, so that was supposed to increase the chances of making them happen, right?

Last year I tried to refine this approach a bit.  I reviewed my goals more often, and tried to be intentional about my actions, which took way more hard work, planning, and practice than I had expected.  I met more of my 2012 goals than in any prior year.  It was exciting and gratifying, yet I strive to do better.

This year I’m trying a new approach using 7 goal categories based on Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life.

Within those categories I have written 3 or 4 specific goals that I want to accomplish.

I review my goals and designate one or two to tasks to complete from each category for a two week time frame that will move me closer to achieving my ultimate goal.   Then I estimate how much time each task will take to complete and prioritize the activities that I need to complete, one week at a time.

This is based loosely on the agile framework of planning and project completion that some businesses use.  Basically, making a to do list, breaking down the projects into manageable tasks, and tracking your progress through review and completion.  All the items you want to achieve, but cannot fit into your two week time frame, moves to your “backlog” to be pulled in when your other items are completed.

It is really amazing how well this is working.  It is a visual reminder of what goals I am trying to accomplish throughout the year, and breaking them down into smaller tasks makes the goals feel achievable.

Here are 7 steps to set up your Task Board:

1. Buy or Make a Large Memo Board that suits your personality.  I bought mine at Kirklands (You have to make it fun and match your style!)

It looks similar to this one:

2. Hang it in a central location that you can review at least once or twice a day.  (Mine is in the kitchen)

3. Sit down and make a list of some reasonable goals for the year.  Once you list them, group them into categories that work for you and pick a color for each category.

4. Buy some colored post its or index cards.

5. List two activities that you believe you could reasonably accomplish, one for each week, and write how long you think it will take to finish the task on the bottom of the card.

(For example, if your goal is to attain 500 new Twitter followers over one year, then one weekly task may be to practice automating one week’s worth of tweets.  Or make a list of 3 articles that you want to tweet about over the next week.  These items are moving you forward, closer to your goal of achieving more followers).

6. Then hang one week of activities in order of priority on your board.  Review them daily.  Decide which one or two you will work on that day.  At the end of week one, see which tasks you’ve completed and what might need to be moved to the following week.  If you have too many activities to move, you are trying to do too much in one week, and should adjust accordingly.

7. Sit back after two weeks and marvel at how much you’ve accomplished, and then start again.  It will be rewarding to realize that there is a way to reach your goals, despite your hectic daily life.