Alright, so as the year ends, finally, this is always the time to look back at goals. What went well? What didn’t go well? And as you may have read in this post from the beginning of the year when all of our lives were, well, a lot more normal than they are now, I talked about changing how I worked towards a goal. I had moved from many goals to one, and from deadline driven to open ended. So let’s talk about how the adjustment went, and if it’s something I recommend.
One Goal Wasn’t What I Thought It’d Be
First, let’s discuss making the adjustment from many goals to one. Did it work? Did I love it? Do I recommend it? Well, unfortunately, no.
For me, I actually missed having at least a few goals going on at one time. Or, at least a short list of goals in succession, working towards one, big goal. It just felt like I needed a bit more oomph and motivation in my daily routine, and that having only one goal at a time caused me to feel like other parts of life were being forgotten or getting less than.
Goals pump me up for the day, like I’m sure they do for you as well. They’re what get you up in the morning before the sun rises, and what keep you up in the evening, long after the sun goes down. They’re what your working towards most days, or at least trying to, and what move you from one month to the next. And only having one on your horizon may have you feeling a bit, well, bored, after awhile. As it did for me.
Now that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you, and maybe it already has, but if you’re the kind of person who loves nothing more than to feel “all in” in at least a few areas of your life, than having only one goal may not be for you. Now just a few? Absolutely. But only one for a long time? Probably not.
Deadlines Keep Goals from Being Just a Dream
Ok so, how did the whole no deadline for goals thing go then? Well, honestly, terribly. It may be a personal decision but at least to me, goals need deadlines. To me, that’s how they come to fruition. Otherwise goals become a wish list, rather than a to do list. For me, having a goal with no deadline just wasn’t specific enough, it wasn’t real enough.
Dates and deadlines bring things into the realm of possibilities rather than the realm of dreams and hopes. It puts you on the line and holds you to it, it forces you to be honest. When there’s no deadline, you can say to yourself, “I haven’t met it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t, someday!” When there is a deadline you can ask yourself a simple, honest truth, “Did you make it happen, by that day?” Nope. Or, a lot more hopefully, yes. Simple as that.
I also found that when I was creating goals with no deadlines, the goals were much farther reaching than those with a deadline. But not in a good way like I pushed myself harder to reach a higher level goal, but instead it was just one big, lofty goal that would take a really long time to get to. And since I was just doing one goal at a time, rather than a stepping stone succession of goals, I really wasn’t getting anywhere at all. It was just getting the day to day maintenance done, but not really reaching for newer and higher, as I wasn’t held to any particular date.
So the conclusion once again for me, was that having a series of stepping stone goals, with deadlines, was the most powerful and the most motivating. They were the most useful. But you know what was even more useful? Recording accomplishments.
Record & Review Your Accomplishments in Preparation for a Losing Streak
Yep, record your accomplishments. Now how do you record them exactly and why should you even bother? Well you bother because when you get bogged down into the day to days of life, you forget what you’ve accomplished. You forget what you’ve done so well and how it’s been recognized – the goals achieved, the projects you’ve pulled off, the accolades you’ve received, and the kind words and thanks you’ve heard from clients.
What you definitely don’t forget though, are the failures. You don’t forget that 1 big project you lost out on, even though you’ve won 5 more. You don’t forget that 1 time you lost out on being published, even though you’ve already been published 3 other times and are slated for 1 more. It’s the unfortunate fact of life that our minds are much more inclined to remember the bad, than the good.
So encourage your mind to upend that bad habit by recording and reviewing your accomplishments, and making them easy to find for the next inevitable losing streak. Create a file in your inbox called “Kind Words” and another in your inbox called “Accomplishments.” And then, go to work. Search through your inbox to find all of the kind words that clients have sent to you, that colleagues have sent to you, that anyone has sent to you, and place it in its according file. And then, search for all email proof of all that you’ve achieved in your design career, and file that away as well.
So whether that means filing away the email telling you that you’ve landed a spot on that podcast you’ve desperately wanted to be featured on. Or, filing away the email where your dream client contacted you to say that they want to work with you, do the work now, so you won’t have to later, when you know you need it most.
And what about anything that’s not digital? Well for that, you can have an actual “Accolades & Accomplishments” file that you keep amongst all of your other business files and records. Have the print out of your goals, that you’ve physically checked off as you’ve achieved them, and keep them in there. Keep anything that you’ve been published in, in there. Keep the “Thank You” cards that you’ve been sent, in there. Keep the portfolio pictures of your favorite projects, in there. Keep records of all that you’ve accomplished, in there.
So on days where all that you can remember are the things that you didn’t accomplish, you know exactly where to go to find out what did. You don’t have to search around for each thank you card that’s strewn about here and there, or go searching in your inbox for inspiration, no, when you need it most, it’s right there waiting for you.
Maybe SMART Goals, Really Are Smart?
So as you write out your goals for 2021, maybe bring back deadlines. Maybe keep yourself honest so that goals don’t become so lofty that they’re a “someday” goal, rather than a “in 30 days” goal. And rather than just one goal, have a stepping stone succession. Lead yourself down a path of accomplishments as you meet one deadlined goal after the other, ultimately leading you to that really, really big goal that may take months or even years to accomplish.
And in preparation for when those stepping stones crack and maybe even completely break, record your accomplishments. Set yourself up for the fact that you will have days where you feel like you’ve never accomplished a single thing. And when you actually have those days, you’ll know exactly where to go as quickly as you can. You’ll be able to look through all that you’ve done, all that you’ve accomplished, and how many people you’ve actually helped, then be able to get right back to where you need to be – transforming people’s homes, and lives, with your gift for design.
Let me know in the comments below, what works for you when it comes to creating and reaching goals? I’d love to know!
And if you’re for looking for more ways to serve your clients exceptionally well, then take a look at what we’ve got for you here!