What were your greatest challenges this year? Did you meet your goals? Some of us did, some of us didn’t. I met a few, most I didn’t. And that’s okay — we move forward with time on our side.
I wrote a post a few weeks ago over on BadRedheadMedia about having writing and marketing goals, an exercise that’s helpful to do every three months; yet, most people make yearly resolutions that fall away within a few weeks. Let’s get in the habit of making quarterly goals, as well as monthly and weekly goals and putting them EVERYWHERE: your planner, the notes on your phone, even sticky notes on your desk. Heck, even tape them to your cat if you have to.
New Year’s resolutions are a way to set ourselves up for failure however, regular goal-setting is a great way to take stock in where we are and where we want to go. If we can’t be honest with ourselves, how can we be honest with others? There are few ways to go about it, so let’s deconstruct in this manner:
- Challenge: I’ll share my own challenges but insert your own
- Goal: I’ll share my goal for this first quarter
- Method: There are a myriad of goal-setting options, but I’ll share here the top three methods I like best, with links to great articles. You can research more on your own from there.
Let’s do this thingy.
Goal: Maximize Focus, Master Priorities
Challenge #1: While I did write one book this year and release it (The BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge, available now on Amazon FINALLY!), and I’ve started work on The BadRedhead Media 30-Day Twitter Challenge, I’ve had to put aside Broken People (the third and final Broken book) for now, and that’s kind of breaking my heart.
Though I’ve continued my advocacy work with #SexAbuseChat, sharing articles that move women and children’s trauma issues forward, and have written poetry and essays on the topics, I’ve yet to really organize myself to write the book. I’ve stopped and started and have bits and pieces here and there. Dammit.
Goal: To have the first draft of the Broken People manuscript to my publisher by March 30th. My monthly goal is to write twelve poems and ten essays.
Method: The Warren Buffet 2-List Strategy (Maximize Focus, Master Priorities)
The Story of Mike Flint
Mike Flint was Buffett’s personal airplane pilot for 10 years. (Flint has also flown four US Presidents, so I think we can safely say he is good at his job.) According to Flint, he was talking about his career priorities with Buffett when his boss asked the pilot to go through a 3-step exercise.
Here’s how it works…
STEP 1: Buffett started by asking Flint to write down his top 25 career goals. So, Flint took some time and wrote them down. (Note: you could also complete this exercise with goals for a shorter timeline. For example, write down the top 25 things you want to accomplish this week.)
STEP 2: Then, Buffett asked Flint to review his list and circle his top 5 goals. Again, Flint took some time, made his way through the list, and eventually decided on his 5 most important goals.
Note: If you’re following along at home, pause right now and do these first two steps before moving on to Step 3.
STEP 3: At this point, Flint had two lists. The 5 items he had circled were List A and the 20 items he had not circled were List B.
Flint confirmed that he would start working on his top 5 goals right away. And that’s when Buffett asked him about the second list, “And what about the ones you didn’t circle?”
Flint replied, “Well, the top 5 are my primary focus, but the other 20 come in a close second. They are still important so I’ll work on those intermittently as I see fit. They are not as urgent, but I still plan to give them a dedicated effort.”
To which Buffett replied, “No. You’ve got it wrong, Mike. Everything you didn’t circle just became your Avoid-At-All-Cost list. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.” (Source: JamesClear.com)
I know for me this means saying “No,” a lot more.
- I give away a lot of my time answering questions and helping people, when honestly much of what they ask me, they can either come to my site to find out more info or Google that shit.
- I interact with people on social media a lot, which is the core foundation of building up my author platform and something I truly enjoy (most of the time, anyway lol). Unfortunately, it’s a time-suck, so spending less time ‘socializing’ will be important for me to get the writing done.
On a more personal note, this has been of the most difficult years of my life — in a good way. Is that possible? I’ve never felt stronger and yet more vulnerable at the same time.
My divorce was final last December (something I wanted), and I officially became a single mom. While I have a wonderfully supportive family, terrific boyfriend, two great kids, and a thriving business, dealing with a now-ex-husband is a whole new world. Even in the best of situations, dealing with detangling finances, different personalities, and new partners while still navigating parenting is tricky.
My challenge and goal here is to focus solely on what’s best for the children, which is what we agreed to from the start. Using this method will help me to focus only on that one goal. Nothing else matters, and that’s how it should be.
Goal: Set an Upper Bound
Many people will set a goal of some sort:
- Write 2,000 words daily
- Walk 3 miles
- Lose 20 pounds in 3 months
- Cook more fresh dinners
- Meditate every morning
- Drink 10 glasses of water every day
- Blog two times weekly
(Wait, these sound suspiciously like my goals 🙂
Whatever the goal may be, instead, try adding an upper limit (or bound). So, instead of “Write 2,000 words daily” you’d say:
- Write 2,000 words daily, but not more than 2,500
- Walk 3 miles but not more than 3.5
- Lose 20 pounds in 3 months, but not more than 25 pounds
This way, you push yourself, but not to the point of burnout. You want your productivity to be attainable! This is why, in my first method example, I give myself quarterly, monthly, and though I didn’t mention it then, even weekly goals. Bite-size chunks work for me.
E.g., I know I need to write 12 poems per month so that’s 3/week — doable. 10 essays per month, so that’s 2.5/week.
This method can apply to any kind of goal you have: physical, emotional, mental, career, etc.
Goal: The 15-Minute Progress Check Routine
Are you constantly distracted by your phone (yes), kids (yes), social media (you so know you are), or have a short attention span? Then this might be the best method for you!
Incredibly, this method goes back to 1847, with author Anthony Trollope. Yep.
Beginning with his first novel in 1847, Anthony Trollope wrote at an incredible pace. Over the next 38 years (33 of which he continued to work at the postal service), he published 47 novels, 18 works of non-fiction, 12 short stories, 2 plays, and an assortment of articles and letters.
Trollope achieved his incredible productivity by writing in 15-minute intervals for three hours per day. (Source: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Amazon.)
Goal: less distraction to focus on task(s) at hand, focus in short bursts
Method: As Ariana Huffington famously said, she ‘escorts her electronics out of her bedroom’ 30 minutes before bedtime, which gives her a chance to destress, focus on her readings and gratitude journal, and slip into the best environment conducive to sleep. Regardless of what your goal is, use this method to focus by removing whatever it is that’s distracting you — typically, our smartphones, internet or computer notifications.
Here’s a specific, minute-by-minute method you can use. I’m not quite this specific, but it might work for you. (Source: SelfPublishingTeam.com)
For me, this means shutting down Twitter, Facebook, Hootsuite, phone etc., and focusing on writing only for just fifteen minute bursts. Try it! It’s very easy to do. Write for fifteen minutes, then check in with your clients, kids, whomever. Then another fifteen minute burst. Adapt if needed (do ten minutes, or thirty minutes – whatever works for you).
This can be particularly difficult for me because I am also a businessperson and mother. I simply cannot make myself totally unavailable. However, I can be more insistent about what I can control, and that is shutting off notifications and checking them only at specific times during the day. This will save me scads of time in checking and rechecking when it’s just not necessary.
If you really want to get technical, you can invest in some goal-setting software. Here’s a rundown of seven programs, if you find them helpful, great.
There’s writing time, there’s social time, and there’s marketing time (and business/work). When it’s personal time, we need to shut it all down and be completely available to not only the important people in our lives, but to ourselves.
Learn more about the BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge or purchase directly from Amazon here.