The most frustrating thing about going into a New Year is having so many expectations for growth and success, just to end up accomplishing nothing. Does this bother you also? Why do we wait until December 31st to decide to make changes for the next year? Why are those changes and expectations so broad and generic? Mostly importantly, why aren’t we seeing results and accomplishing goals long after January has passed? This Ultimate Productivity Guide will help eliminate those issues and get you on track to make the New Year your most accomplishing and productive year yet!
So many people rely on New Year’s resolutions to help them makes changes. The problem is that a resolution is merely a declaration; not a plan, objective or milestone. If you truly want to see things change and reach goals in your professional life (and personal life), you must be more specific, intentional and accountable.
New Year’s resolutions don’t stand a chance if you’re not intentional with your plans!
If you’re serious about change and you want results in 2017, here’s how to start:
- Decide what type of Career or Lifestyle you want:
Not everyone wants to be promoted to a leadership role. However, it’s still important to be clear on what you want out of your career and align your actions accordingly. Now, most people think that their personal life and professional life have no relation to each other and that is the furthest from the truth. If you’re stressed at home, you’ll be stressed at work. If organization is an issue in your personal life, it’ll surely be a challenge in your work life. Take a moment and think about your ideal lifestyle, both professional and personal. This is the starting point to creating the outcomes you want for each.
- Write down Professional (and/or personal) Goals:
Once you’re clear on your ideal lifestyle, it’s then time to write down your goals for the New Year. This step must be done strategically to actively make strides to accomplishing goals. Be sure that you’re considering every possible component of each goal (to the best of your ability) as you list them out because those components are actually goals too (we’ll call them sub-factors). For each goal that you list, count how many sub-factors there are. Writing clear goals will give you more visibility on what is truly required to reach each goal, thus making it a bit easier to identify how long it will take to complete them.
- Identify your Motivators:
The ideal lifestyle and goals you’ve listed in the previous steps didn’t come from thin air; they mean something to you. What’s the driving force behind your goals? Why are they important to you? What will it mean to you if you reach them? What activities will help you stay on track? The answers to these questions are your motivators. Once you’re clear on what your motivators are, you’ll be able to do and engage in activities that support your drive. This is another means of ensuring that your actions and efforts are congruent with the results you want.
Lack of focus is one of the most common reasons why we don’t get things done. Trying to do too many things at once and find a “balance” that simply just does not exist. I have personally been able to accomplish my daily/weekly goals much more efficiently after reading The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. This book challenges the norm and helps you shift your perspective to getting results in what you do.
- Forecast & track your Goals and Milestone Progress:
As mentioned in step 2, it’s important to consider every possible component associated with your goals so that you are clear on what it takes to reach them. When I purchased my planner earlier this year, I was very eager to use it and loved the design of it. I’d write down my to-do list for each day and a general list of to-dos in the monthly view. Although I felt good about writing down my tasks and “planning” my days, the problem was that my lists were too broad. In addition, I wasn’t keeping track of what I need to do actually reach my goals in the appropriate timeframe. My to-do lists were just all over the place!
This is also a problem that professionals and leaders face in the workplace when it’s time to identify performance goals. As such, I’ve created an easy to use Performance and Goal Forecasting Sheet that helps outline a reasonable number of objectives and milestones to reach performance goals and track the progress along the way. This PDF is great for leaders to use with their employees and it’s also a great tool for individuals who want to outline and track their own performance goals as well. Download your copy to get started with your 2017!
- Commit to Task Management, not time management:
Let’s get right to the point; time management does not exist. We’ve heard this term referenced so much over the years that we believed that it was the reason why we weren’t getting things done. The question isn’t why don’t we have enough time to get things done but instead, why aren’t we managing tasks effectively to get things done.
The question isn’t why don’t we have enough time to get things done – but why aren’t we managing tasks effectively to get things done. @BAPROINC
Time cannot be managed. It is constant and we have no control over it. But tasks? Those can be managed and controlled as frequently as needed. Once you are clear on this concept, take a look at the tasks required to complete your work assignments and performance goals. Thereafter, brainstorm what you can approach differently to get your desired results.
Many can admit that they procrastinate, but how many actually consider the reasons why they do it? Members of our PRO List were previously brought up to speed on this goal-snatcher and why it’s important to identify procrastination triggers specifically. Are you holding back on working towards goals because of the fear of failure? Overwhelmed? Resisting change? Do you lack clarity and direction? These are things that trigger us to procrastinate on taking action. To help prevent procrastination from snatching your goals in the New Year, here’s an infographic that will help you stay on track.
- Have an Accountability Partner:
One of my best decisions in 2016 was having an accountability partner. An accountability partner isn’t just good for support on your professional journey, but it’s also a great way to ensure that you do what you’ve planned to do. Accountability is essential for professionals, no matter what your role is. The main reason New Year goals fall to the wayside by January 7th is because people don’t hold themselves accountable for their actions and non-actions. It’s not enough to say that you want certain results, you must do what it takes to reach them. The great thing about having an accountability partner is that you can check in with each other, discuss plans and challenges, share resources, but most importantly, you literally see the progress you make along the way.
My accountability partner and I have a call every Sunday to discuss goals and plans, we meet at the start of each month, and we also use an app called Wunderlist to monitor our weekly goals and tasks. There’s also a chat feature where we send messages to each other throughout the week to check in. The great thing about using Wunderlist to track goals is that moment when you take a look at how many goals you’ve actually completed! It’s a good feeling and motivating to see how much you’ve accomplished. Having an accountability partner is a true game changer and it’s great to have someone to celebrate those wins with as well.
- Pick 2 – 3 helpful Resources to follow along the way:
There’s so much information easily accessible to us and if you’re like me, it’s addicting to consume new content and expand your knowledge. It’s important to avoid information overload and focus on implementation. Pick 2 to 3 resources (over a span of time) that will help guide you to reach goals. These resources can be podcasts, blogs, books, etc. Check out The New Culture Norm Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for insight on professionalism, workplace culture, effective leadership and more.
- Invest in Professional Development:
As mentioned in step 10, there is an abundance of information that we have access to. Professional development is key in maintaining your competitive advantage as a professional. Look into courses, coaching, certification programs, masterclasses, etc. to develop your skill-set. Professional development options may be available online or in person (and possibly at no cost). Here are the coaching and training options that we currently offer.
- Work with a Mentor
Having a mentor is just as important as having an accountability partner. The guidance of someone on the level that you aspire to reach is a very strategic approach to attaining your goals. There are many local and virtual organizations that offer free mentorship programs, but you can have a mentor in your company as well.
- Make Health & Wellness a priority
Many neglect the health and wellness aspect when considering their performance goals. Just saying that you’re going to get in shape for the New Year doesn’t count as making it a priority. If you want to perform at your best, you must feel your best. Review your diet and make necessary adjustments. Signup for a local gym membership, hire a personal or group trainer or even join virtual fitness programs. Do whatever it takes to ensure that care and quality are going into your body so that energy and greatness can come out.
- Develop a Morning Routine
If you want more energy, a sound mind, and higher productivity; develop a morning routine. This is another practice I’ve implemented into my daily routine and the outcome has been amazing! Morning routines help you set up your day for success. Now, I’ll be honest and say that that starting a morning routine was a challenge initially since I was never a morning person. But when I decided that reaching my goals were more important to me than a couple of extra hours of sleep, I started going to bed earlier, planning my day and committed to productivity.
An app that helped me get into the habit of waking early is the Coach.me Habit Tracker. This app has different goal categories (communities) to join and you receive check-in notifications for each goal you complete. I’m personally a part of the “Get Out Of Bed The First Time The Alarm Goes Off” goal community. I must say, checking in does give you that extra push!
- Be Intentional with your Actions
Too often, we decide that we want to attain certain things or get to the next level in our careers and lives. But not often enough do we actually take inventory of our actions and become intentional with what we do. As 2017 (quickly) approaches, make a choice to do avoid resolutions and apply intentions. Guess what? You’ve already started being intentional with your New Year goals because you’ve chosen to open and read this productivity guide.
Don’t stop here, keep going! Be intentional with implementing the steps in this guide and create your most productive year yet!
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