Kinda embarrassing confession time: Last year I set some goals like I do every year.
And then I pretty much ignored them.
Early in 2016, I decided to enroll in an awesome online business course (#bschoolerforlife!). It wasn’t on my goal or to-do list for the year, but the opportunity arose and I snatched it up. My focus for the year entirely shifted after that point.
Sometimes you create a map for yourself and then end up taking that other road that suddenly appears. You throw your entire map aside and travel elsewhere.
On the map I threw aside were my carefully laid out goal-getting plans. Workout goals, language-learning goals, and some other goals that I don’t even remember anymore.
While I wish I would’ve kept up some of the routines and goals I planned, I don’t regret taking the online course. I learned so much and came into contact with so many great people. It was a journey worth taking.
Later in 2016, however, I reached a point where I’d completed the course and I was left mapless and staring at an expanse of wide possibilities before me.
What now? What do I do with my newfound knowledge?
There wasn’t enough year left to get back to some of my annual goals.
Enter quarterly goals.
This year I’m all about the quarterly goals. You should be, too.
Create a vision of what you want for the year and then snap it into four chunks. Each chunk is three months, about 90 days or 12 weeks. That’s your quarter.
Your annual goals are still there, but they become like a lighthouse on the horizon signaling your destination. You’ll climb toward them in four separate journeys, each one representing a checkpoint in your goal-getting travels for the year. Each of these smaller four journeys is your quarter and you will have a map.
This quarterly goal-setting dealio helps you be more effective for a variety of reasons.
There’s less room for procrastination
How many times have you set an annual goal only to come to September and realize “Hey, I should probably start working on that…” Whoops. It’s happened to me multiple times. In fact, it’s the reason that the end of the year tends to be the busiest and most stressful time for me
It’s also the reason I do things like start this blog and finish writing a novel on December 31st. If it weren’t for that last minute…
It’s possible that not all your goals are going to require an entire year of action to become reality. Parkinson’s Law, however, tells us that the time it takes us to complete the goal will be exactly the time we give it. Tasks expand to fill the time given to them.
In other words, if we tell ourselves this is my goal for the year, then it becomes a goal that will probably take all damn year.
But does it have to? Hmmm…
I betcha you can get a lot done in three months. That’s the beauty of a quarter. Less time for messing around. Ain’t no humping around, goal-getters.
Even though quarterly goals tend to be smaller goals that should still be realistically attainable within the deadlines you set for them, you still need to be on your game and take consistent action.
Smaller fun-sized goals = less overwhelm
If your goal is to [run a marathon and you haven’t even run a mile, the idea of going 26.2] is big enough to be super inspiring can also be super overwhelming.
If you’ve ever caught yourself having a “OMG what the heck did I just commit to? Holy shit” freak-out moment, you may be focusing too much on the long and possibly arduous road ahead of you. Allllll those things you must do to accomplish that big goal for the year.
Then when you get overwhelmed your protective brain senses your discomfort and starts to introduce doubt and fear. “Maybe a marathon isn’t realistic. Perhaps I’m not cut out to be a runner.” Doubt and fear often show up in the form of…you guessed it: procrastination! “I’ll start training when the weather gets warmer.”
But wait, no need to freak cuz you’ve got a quarterly goal to run a 5k. That’s only three miles. That’s not so bad, is it? Little by little, you can get there.
But get there first. Focus on the next step, not all the steps. Quarterly goals help you keep your eye on the impactful milestone goals that’ll get you where you want to go.
Next quarter, run a 10k and start training for a half marathon. Run your half in Q3 and get ready to run your marathon before year end.
Small goals add up to big goals.
Small goals are mighty goals. Hear them roar!
Taking that first step, reaching that first goal as you amble toward your checkpoint, map in hand, is the toughest part. It might even be painful. Creating new habits and routines can be uncomfortable. Here’s a post about how to create new habits without stressing out.
The quarterly goals you set become monthly, weekly, and even daily goals. These may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but they’re not. It all adds up.
Quarterly goals for the win because less procrastination and less overwhelm!
Here are some strategies you can use to totally rock your quarterly goals this year:
Adjust your planning system if necessary. Consider using a quarterly planner or goal system like The Freedom Journal (good for 100 days of goal-getting), the Self Journal (what I’m using right now—a full review to come), or Inkwell Press’s Quarterly Planner.
If your planner doesn’t have a space for you to record your quarterly goals, then jot them down on a separate page and stick this page in your planner with a book flag or paperclip or something to note that this page is hella important. You’ll be coming back to that page a lot.
Keep your quarterly goals visible and in a place you can review them on a regular basis. Schedule time to review those weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals. I recommend doing it on a weekly basis when you sit down to plan your actions for the week. I like to do this on Sunday evenings.
Be prepared to discard your map if necessary. Quarterly goals allow for a lot more flexibility and feedback. If something’s not working, you’ll discover it a lot sooner by setting and review smaller, more incremental goals. Then you can tweak your plan of attack or change strategies and move on.
At the end of the quarter ask:
- Did you accomplish your goals? Why or why not?
- What can you do to crush next quarter’s goals?
- Speaking of next quarter’s goals, do you need to adjust or change your strategies for achieving them? Maybe you’re further along than you thought. Maybe not. Review and recognize your progress.
Don’t be afraid to start whenever. Who says your quarters have to go from January through March, etc.? This is your goal-getting. The sooner you start, the sooner you can get results.
Embrace the goals that you can complete in fewer than four quarters. Maybe you’ve already been running for a while and you can complete your marathon training in six months. Dooooo iiiiiiit.
Cuz then it’ll be July and you’ll be all BOOM I completed one of my goals for 2017 and you’ll float on a wave of momentum that will inspire you to kick ass for the rest of the year. Seriously, don’t underestimate the huge boost completing one goal (even a small one!) can give you. Why not start a shorter goal first just so you can cross it off your list?
Who’s setting quarterly goals with me?
Since some of my goals for 2017 include travelling to Paris, running a half marathon, and completing 35 acts of kindness (because I just turned 35 a few weeks ago, yo), my goals for Q1 include
- Running a 5k
- Doing 9 acts of kindness
- Starting a new language-learning routine to include French
For January, that breaks down to:
- Completing the first 5 weeks of a 10k training program
- Doing 3 acts of kindness (3 x 12 months gets me to 36)
- Identifying ways to add language learning to my existing habits and routines
Your turn! Tell me about how you’re going to break your goals for the year into goals for the first three months of this year. Double bonus points if you share how you’ll break that down into a goal for the month.
Know anyone who’s setting huge overwhelming goals this year? Share this with them so the two of you can encourage each other and sound all business board member-like with your talk of Q1 vs. Q2…