I generally don’t encourage anyone to compare themselves to others. “We’re all wired differently” is one of my favorite phrases, after all. Even just speaking in terms of time management and productivity, comparing your progress and strategies to the people around you might be unhelpful. It can be discouraging to look at someone who seems to be getting a lot more done with their time than you are. Starting from a place of discouragement isn’t conducive to you improving your time management skills or doing your best work, let alone living your best life.
So, no, it’s probably not going to help you to compare yourself to your peers, friends or the people you follow on social media. But what about comparing yourself to your own past self?
Sometimes there can be useful clarity and motivation to be gained from looking back. Specifically, can you think about where you were at this time last year?
Compared to the beginning of last year, are you…
- More productive, more at peace, more excited about the year ahead and generally better off than you were last year? Awesome! Take stock of everything that’s gone well for you over the last year and notice the actions that have improved things for yourself so you can keep building on those.
- Worse off now? If you’re feeling less productive, more overwhelmed and generally worse off than you were a year ago, thinking about what’s changed in the last year could be helpful in thinking about ways to regain some ground. Some things might be outside your control; But making small changes to improve the things that are in your control is still possible. Make a short list of things you CAN control and start there.
- Exactly in the same place, feeling like nothing’s really changed? Do you feel like you’re struggling with the same time management challenges, still not striking the work/life balance you want and just as overwhelmed as you were a year ago? I know that might not feel like a great place to be—but there’s also power in recognizing when you’re stuck. If you don’t notice that now, you miss the opportunity to make small changes that are going to have a big difference over the year so you’re not still stuck in this same place next year. Once you recognize that you need to make those changes, you’re in a place to start taking action.
However your current overall picture compares to your life a year ago, making this kind of assessment gives you useful data that can shape the course of your coming year. You can’t chart a course to where you want to go if you haven’t taken stock of where you’re starting out.
We’re One Month in—Where Are You With Your 2023 Goals?
Backing up a bit… Did you make a list of 2023 goals for yourself? If not, it’s absolutely not too late. There’s no rule saying you can only set yearly goals at New Year’s. But I do want to encourage you to do it now—as in, right now. Setting yearly goals is the kind of task that you might keep putting off and putting off until suddenly it’s December again and you didn’t do any of the things you meant to do this year. So check out recent blogs here and here for more about setting goals.)
Assuming you have at least one goal you’re working toward this year, what’s your action plan? Do you have an action plan with clear steps that will move you closer to the life you want? What kind of changes have you started making? What kinds of changes still need to be implemented? Do you have time management strategies in place that will give you the time you need to take the action you want to take?
Thinking through your answers to those questions should help you determine whether you’re on track to complete all of your goals for the year or if you need to make changes.
3 Steps for Getting on Track with Your Yearly Goals
1. Review the goals and resolutions that seemed like a good idea to you at the beginning of January.
The key word here is “seemed;” it’s okay if your perspective has already shifted! Write them down on paper and make sure they’re still aligned with who you want to be in a year. Make sure you’re thinking about what you want both in work and in your life outside of work. If you haven’t already, start breaking those goals down into clear steps so you can see the actions you need to take.
2. Map out the “big rocks.”
These are the major checkpoints that you need to reach as you move closer to your goals. In other words, what needs to get done by X, Y and Z dates in order to stay on track with accomplishing what you want to accomplish? Pro tip: Get yourself a wall-size calendar so you can visualize the entire year at once. A month-by-month or digital calendar just doesn’t let you see the big picture of your year in the same way. (This is the one I like!)
3. Make sure you have a plan in place that makes you keep reviewing your goals over time.
It’s easy to set goals and much harder to stay in relationship with them over time, especially when life becomes especially busy or difficult. Get clear on when you’re going to review your goals and progress. It might be a quick weekly check-in with yourself, or regular weekly meeting with your team to review shared projects. Whatever kind of process would work for you, get time for those review sessions scheduled in your calendar. Even if it’s just five minutes, take that time to focus and reflect on those big-picture priorities and get clear on what you want to do next.
If you’ve tried these things before and they haven’t worked for you, then you probably need some extra support.
Join us for Time Matters Boot Camp, a 90-day program starting February 6th. TMBC 90 might be for you if you’re sick and tired of being overwhelmed by everything you have to get done and unsure where to start. You’ll get 90 days of coaching and support from me as you create a customized time management system, along with a small group of entrepreneurs and professionals like you. Click here for details.
Wishing you peaceful productivity!
- 7 Habits of Productive People: How Many Do You Have? - February 15, 2024
- Which of These 4 Categories of Distractions Affects You Most? - January 31, 2024
- Want to Achieve Your 2024 Goals? Get Rid of 3 Things First - January 18, 2024