Constant distraction and a fight for focus. This is me just about every single day. As a mom to two young kids, a growing business and a need for human connection, ‘balance’ is an impossibility. So much surrounding my day to day feels like survival, treading water, working so hard to pay attention to what’s important.
We are bombarded by external garbage (ie social media) and toxic internal chatter (imposter syndrome!) that can make every waking moment feel like an uphill battle. Will we ever be enough? Why does it seem like everyone else has their shit together??
In the words of David Byrne, “How did I get here?!”
It’s been said that we can’t create in a vacuum, we all need a tribe and it takes a village, right? And I believe all of this to be true, with one very important caveat: sometimes you’ve gotta shut that shit out, check in with yourself and make a plan. A plan determined by you and only you. Because if you don’t take charge of the overall trajectory of your time, your goals and your priorities, someone else will.
With 2020 threatening to make itself known in less than 2 months, I do think now is the perfect time to reassess, formulate a plan and establish some new, healthy habits.
Are you ready? Let’s do this.
Step 1: Look to the Past
Admittedly this is not an exercise that most people enjoy doing. It can be hard to look back, to analyze mistakes and review battles lost. But this is a glass-half-empty approach: looking back can also be freeing. It gives us a chance to recognize our victories, see how much we’ve grown and distance ourselves from events long since passed. If this is uncomfortable, lean into it: because we can’t move forward without looking back.
So open up your calendar and use it as your guide to help you get a high level view of the past 8-12 months. How did you spend most of your time? Does the time spent jibe with the things/people/activities you value most? It may help you to break your activities into the following categories:
- Personal life and family
- Personal/professional growth
- Hobbies and self care
- Physical stuff (house, belongings)
Find a quiet space and take some time to consider all of the above, noting events that played the biggest role had the most impact for you over the past year.
Perhaps it’s even dawned on you that it might be time to say ‘No’ to a few more things in 2020? 😉
Step 2: Prioritize
Now take a look at that same list and consider which of these categories are most important to you. You may want to list them in order of significance. How do these priorities line up with the amount of time that you spent on each over the past year?
To help you make a bit more sense around prioritization, you could ask yourself the following questions:
- What are you most grateful for?
- Who in your life (this could be more than one person) helps you to feel most centered and closer to who you are as a person?
- What is your top burning desire?
- If you found out that you only had one week to live, what would you do tomorrow?
Step 3: Make a Plan and Write it Down
It’s been said that, “If you have a goal, write it down. If you do not write it down you do not have a goal – you have a wish.” ~ Steve Maraboli
As it turns out, we all have trouble focusing on more than one thing at a time–who knew! When you write something down you are giving that thought your full attention, if even for just a few moments.
Once you’ve completed steps 1 and 2, you should have a better idea of the kinds of things you’d like to bring to the forefront of your life. Your goals are taking shape and a plan for 2020 is beginning to emerge. These should be stretch goals, by the way: realistic goals that also challenge your comfort level. Because we all know that change doesn’t happen when we remain comfortable…
Now look at your calendar again and consider how you like your days structured. Are you a morning person or a night owl? When are you most productive? What is your work style and what tools do you need to keep you on track?
Now create a list that you can visit daily and/or physically block off recurring time on your calendar. This will create uninterrupted time to chip away at your top goals and highest priorities.
Need help managing your time? Check out this post.
Step 4: Check-in Daily, Reassess Regularly
The challenge in all of this? Consistency! Keeping at it, forming new habits and reminding yourself that you simply have to prioritize some things over others (including prioritizing yourself, your health and wellbeing and sometimes…just doing nothing at all).
So write your list/plan/schedule down, make it beautiful, print it, laminate it and hang it in a place where you will see it every single day! If you don’t actively think about your goals each day, how can you be sure to achieve them? Honestly, there is so much happening for each of us that it can be tough to remember what day of the week it is. So how can we expect ourselves to stay on track if we aren’t reminded?
And of course, none of this is set in stone. Priorities change, shit happens and sometimes we have to forge a new path unexpectedly…and that is ok! Be honest with yourself and cut yourself some slack.
Step 5: Constant Forward Motion
Honestly above all else, when it comes to staying the course the key is really to, well, stay the course. Keep moving forward. Make small steps each and every day, even when you don’t feel like it. Small change and reminding ourselves why we do what we do is essential to staying focused and achieving what we set out to do.
Pro Tip: Find a Tribe!
We are often our own worst enemy. So do yourself a favor and find a tribe of people who are on a similar path. This can be in the form of a Facebook group, online community, regularly scheduled video chats or in-person hangouts. Accountability is contagious and may provide that extra edge to get you out of your comfort zone and on a path toward achieving your goals!
If you’re seeking a tribe of small business owners, why not try this one?