Well, after my gung-ho start to the year with piles of goals and all sorts of motivation and drive to plow through them, life started happening and before I knew it, I started losing ground. Before long, my goals started to feel unattainable. My life just seemed too hectic to even consider them, and the less I looked at them, the less I wanted to look at them.
But thanks to the Mom Conference last fall, help came in the nick of time, thanks to a free "halftime" conference call opportunity that showed up in my e-mail inbox from John C. Maxwell. Was this a lead-in to a sales pitch? Yes. But was it still worth it? Absolutely! (If there's one thing I've learned in all my moneysaving, deal-hunting adventures over the years it's that sometimes you actually DO get great stuff for free!)
So today I wanted to share with you some of what I learned, and tell you how it's helping me to get back on track with my goals.
First, John C. Maxwell said that the most successful people are the ones who can reevaluate at halftime. He said a coach will go into a game with a game plan, but during the course of the first half, it's inevitable that things will happen to throw off that game plan. This is why halftime is a time to reflect, to adjust, and to create a new plan to move forward, taking into account everything that happened in the first half. Reflection turns experience into insight, and insight is the leader's edge.
It's the same with our lives- June is a natural "halftime" for our year, but this can be done at any time. So what does our halftime reevaluation look like?
1. Create time to reflect. The key word here is create. You make time for what you value. Here are 3 reflective questions to use when evaluating how you've done on your goals so far:
- What do I feel? (trust your intuition)
- What do I know? (What are the facts?)
- What do I think? (What are the possibilities?)
Think until what you feel and what you know make sense together- thinking is the bridge.
2. Prepare your materials. Maxwell suggested taking 5 minutes at the end of every day to jot down a few thoughts about the day's successes and struggles. How did you spend your time? What did you get out of it? What worked? What didn't? Why? Why not? These brief journal entries are what will guide your reflection time later on.
3. Review your first-half observations. Once you have some materials to work from (and if you haven't been keeping a journal, that's okay- you can just think through the first half of the year and jot down a few notes) start making observations. Do you notice any patterns? Strike out any obvious things- like when you're sick you didn't get a lot done- and star any good ones- like noticing that you have more energy in the mornings than in the evenings.
4. Reflect on all your findings. How can you improve? What goals should you hold onto, and which may have outlived their usefulness? Which should be adjusted to fit your current situation?
5. Plan the second half. Now that you know where you've been, you can plan where you're going- but remember, your second half will only be as good as your ability to figure out the first half. Are there new goals you might make to get you excited and motivated?
6. Get help. Share your goals with someone you're close to, and use their thoughts and ideas to help you better define your own. Seek out mentors in the areas in which you want to improve- are there moms you really admire? Other writers who seem to have it all together? Reach out to them and ask them to help you on your journey.
I loved these ideas, and I don't know why it hasn't occurred to me how important reflection is. Just creating that quiet time for your brain to work- and for it to listen to your heart- is essential! Maxwell said "sustained thinking beats smart thinking any day." As writers, we know that we couldn't do what we do without that sustained thinking- why not apply that same creative power to our own lives?
So after that conference call, I was ready to reevaluate- but then I got another opportunity to watch a free video series by a guy named Todd Herman. He is promoting a program called "The 90-Day Year", which is geared toward entrepreneurs, but has so much good stuff for us moms and writers (who are essentially entrepreneurs) that I found it to be extremely enlightening and motivating. Here are my two main takeaways from that:
1. "Ow" Thinking Vs. "Wow" Thinking- If, whenever we think of our goals, all we can see is how big they are and how far away from them we are, then that is "ow" thinking. If, however, when we think of our goals we are able to look back on how far we've come and all that we've accomplished so far (reflection is key!!), then that is "wow" thinking. I loved how this idea tied so perfectly into what Maxwell was saying- when we focus on past success and learn from it and build on it, we are fueling our future successes.
Rather than looking at your WIP and seeing all the plot holes and how many words you still have to write, look at what you have written, and focus on your favorite parts and build on those successes. Maybe you only have an idea? Focus on how awesome that idea is and let that confidence in that idea be the spark to move you forward with it.
2. The Context Switch Drain- In the videos, Todd Herman has a fantastic observation (with results of studies to back it up) that whenever we switch our focus from one thing to another (like from our WIP to checking our e-mail) we lose time and energy- and not just a little, but an exponential amount depending on how frequently we switch contexts. This has to stop! In order to be successful, we must choose one thing and put all our focus on it for a sustained amount of time. I know how hard this is when you have young kids- there are constant interruptions. But if we want to use our time effectively, we have to find a way to carve out chunks- chunks for family, for writing, for housework- or else we'll be losing more time than we know to constant context switching. Turn off those Facebook and e-mail alerts too!
Okay, I know this is a lot to take in, but it's information that has really helped me to reframe my thinking, and I hope it helps you as well.
If you want to read more of my thoughts on effective goal-setting, read my post Set Goals Like You Mean It.