How to make an annual plan, Part 3

Part 3 of annual planning.  Are we having fun yet?

To recap, so far we have identified what went well and what needs improvement in 2017.  Then, we learned about SMART goals and created some for 2018.

This week, we're going to break down those goals from annual, quarterly, or monthly goals into weekly and daily goals, because not only does it feel more attainable that way, but it also puts these agenda items on your daily to-do list so that checking them off is a no-brainer.  Basically, we're figuring out how to eat the elephant one bite at a time.

Let's look at an example.

One of my personal goals this quarter is to learn French.  To put it SMART-ly, my goal is

To achieve 60% fluency in French by March 11 by completing three lessons a day, five days a week on the Duolingo app  (Fluency percentage is graded by the app).

This goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant (I'm going to Paris in March for my honeymoon!), and time-bound.  But it still sounds ambitious right?

That's where we break it down into something smaller.  Even in my goal, I indicated that I'll complete three Duolingo lessons each day, five days a week.  Each lesson is about 5 minutes, so I'm dedicating 15 minutes of each weekday to this goal.  Does it sound easier now?  Ok, good.

But let's set ourselves up for success even more.  Instead of just writing down your goal, plan it.  And I mean literally, put it in your planner or to do list (but DO write down your goals and post it in a place you see!

My favorite new (free) tool is Wunderlist.  It's a to-do list for those of us with lots to do.  You can create different lists of different projects, tasks, and errands, then assign due dates, add notes, and even assign those tasks to someone else (delegating could/should be your new favorite hobby).  It syncs automatically with your phone to your desktop and it makes this super-satisfying little sound when you check those items off your to-do list each day.  

So, for my French goal, I created a to-do in my personal folder.  Complete 3 French lessons.  I set it up as a repeating task, and now when I go to see my agenda for the day, it's always there.

Now, one option would be to actually schedule this on your calendar.  This is a must for any task that has to be done at a certain time or place.  Schedule out the whole year that way it's there for you and you don't have to fit it in.   I do this for things that have weekly deadlines, like payroll, or that require the presence of specific people.  For example, Sten and I schedule date nights every two weeks.  One of us puts it on our Google calendar and sends the other the invite.  It might seem unromantic or rigid, but neither of us schedules over date night, and it ensures that no matter how busy we both get, we have carved out time to spend together.  And there's nothing more romantic than that.  

Now, you might be doubting yourself.  Think you can't spend 15 minutes every day to practice something that's important to you?  Then maybe it's not that important.  Or maybe you just need to think of where you can squeeze things in.  For my French lessons, I don't schedule time on my calendar.  Instead, I treat it as a mental change of pace from other agenda items in my day and I take advantage of it as needed.  

Say I'm answering emails and losing my focus, or I'm not getting the results I'm hoping for out of a technical task.  Instead of fighting it, I just change gears.  Spending 15 minutes getting my French lesson takes my mind off the struggle, freshens up my mood, and lets me come back to it fresh, all while feeling accomplished that I'm another day closer to ordering croissants and champagne in the native language come March.

So, are we feeling ready to establish our daily and weekly action steps toward achieving our goals?  

In the comments, let me know about any questions you have about your daily and weekly tasks.


PS:  Next week's post will feature special guest "Downloadable 2018 Content Calendar."  Don't miss it.



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