Welcome to February: the month all those New Year's resolutions are put to the test. It’s easy to set goals and dream of being or doing better, but living it out is a different story. Anyone else get overwhelmed thinking of everything on your plate, much less the list of goals you set last month? You’re not alone.
A couple of years ago I got tired of setting goals and not reaching them, so much so that I determined to change. It all stemmed from a conversation with a friend and leader in my church who asked me about a project I was working on. I had an exciting and compelling vision, yet I was nearly a year and a half in and still hadn’t completed the task. Anyone else relate?
I realized I needed to make some adjustments in order to get from A to Z. If you’re like me, it’s easy to dream of where I want to end up, and even where to begin, but when it comes to steps B - Y, I’m often at a loss. I love starting exciting new things, and I love the satisfaction of finishing those projects, but the messy middle has been a deep struggle for me.
After that defining conversation with my friend, I knew I needed both community and accountability to meet my goal. I also needed some sort of tracking system for myself and for others to check in with and for me.
My first step was to download the Google Calendar app and schedule a meeting with myself on a regular basis. Next I created a Google form to automatically send myself before these pre-scheduled meetings so I would have the information I needed to succeed. In this form, I asked myself questions in four different areas of focus, including my finances, my business growth, my health, and my own self-care and rest.
Because I knew I wanted to move forward in these areas, I included direct questions aimed at helping me carefully note my progress and identify if I was off track anywhere. I also invited a friend and coach into the process with me and selected the option to send my answers to her each time I fill out the form. Things were getting real, real quick. Yet I knew I wouldn’t actually follow through unless I had the accountability with myself and with others in place.
Now I have a calendar appointment with myself set up in my Google Calendar every ten days on the 10th, 20th, and 30th of each month. Within the notes section of these appointments, I include the link to my form, and I set up an email notification on the day before as a reminder. I check in twice a month with my accountability partner and coach and intentionally look for ways to invite my community into my process with me by being vulnerable and open. This 10-day rhythm and check-in system has been a game changer for me as I seek to master the messy middle steps. A week often feels too often to track goals, and a month feels too long, so I was inspired to create 10-day rhythms.
As an entrepreneur and business owner, it's easy to get pulled in various directions by new ideas, new initiatives, and the urgent things. When that happens, the important things can fall to the side and be altogether ignored. I listed what things as a business owner that I want to do within every 10-day time frame:
My check-in form has spaces for me to look back over the past 10 days, find what went well in those areas, and also find where I need to step it up in the coming 10 days. If any of these areas go too far above or below those parameters, I get too wiped out (working too much), or I get too lax (not gaining new business).
If you’re in a similar place and need some help getting organized or motivated, consider creating a check in system for yourself. Download the Google Calendar app and set up an appointment with yourself. List the areas you want to focus on and invite a friend or two to hold you accountable. Consider creating a Google form listing questions in the areas you identify and protect your time to assess your progress and make adjustments to move forward. The cool thing is that the form auto-populates into a spreadsheet so you are easily able to view progress at a glance. When you succeed, find a meaningful way to celebrate your wins! I hit my goals for January and celebrated by buying a candle and some bath salts & goodies. 😍
In the end, it’s important to create a system that works for you. The ten day check in system has changed my business, productivity levels, and the way I live my life. It’s freed me to be able to do the things I really want to do, rather than simply responding to my feelings. And perhaps most of all, it’s given me the confidence I need to face the messy middle and finally reach the end goals I’ve dreamed of meeting.
You may have noticed my "rest day" and "self-care day" planned into every 10 days. This is one way that I create margin and breathing room in my life. If you live in Ann Arbor and are struggling with finding time for yourself, consider joining us for a workshop series in March. I am co-hosting a 3-week series with a phenomenal health coach in town named Liza Baker. She is amazing! See all event details here.