Will you crush your goals this year?
That’s my plan for sure! We just ended the first quarter of the year, which means it’s time to pause and check in on how we are progressing towards our goals.
This check in will help you evaluate where you’ve achieved success, made some progress, where you may have fallen behind, and where you need to go next quarter to crush your annual goals. Checking in on your goals can ensure a fruitful year.
What are Quarterly Rocks?
Those Quarterly Rocks are what’s important and what we should focus on for the next 90 days. If you haven’t read “Traction” yet, I highly recommend you do so!
I have my goals for the year broken down into quarterly, achievable chunks. Personally, I look at my goals at least twice a month. When I am really diligent about achieving my goals, I check in on them weekly.
What I have found is that the more I check in on them, the better I do at achieving them. Having a clear view of my priorities in this way also helps me retain my focus. I’ll share more about this in a minute.
Know Where You’re Going
I’ve mentioned the importance of goals before and why they are integral to your role as an instructional designer, leader of a training team, a consultant, a freelancer, or to anyone chasing success.
Setting goals gives you a very important opportunity to lay out where you’re going and figure out how to get there. Performing your end of quarter goal check in allows you to see if you’re headed in the right direction, or if you need to recalculate a bit.
Besides the practicality of setting goals, goals can also be great motivators. There’s nothing more satisfying than crushing your goals and seeing them crossed off of your list and being able to celebrate your accomplishments.
No matter how small the goal or “rock” that you’ve completed, celebrating meeting those milestones – big and small – is really important. Positivity equals productivity!
Managing Your Goals
To keep my goals in focus and in front of me, I have a goal board in Trello. Trello is the tool I use to project manage all of my client and business projects, but it is also a great place to store my goals. It helps me keep my goals organized by quarter and for the year, and it provides me with visual insight on my progress.
Trello is FREE (always a plus!) and you can easily collaborate with other team members and clients, too.
PowerPoint, Word, and Excel are also great tools to track your goals. Before I switched to Trello, I used a PowerPoint slide deck, which was housed in a shared folder so anyone on the team could access the department goals. I had the team’s goals and the goals of each individual team member in the slide deck.
Benefits of Sharing Goals
Making the goals visible to anyone on the team provided transparency and accountability for us all. We used the goal deck during our bimonthly meetings to report on our progress towards achieving our team and individual goals as well as discuss any potential barriers to achieving our goals.
Everyone on the team always knew where we stood collectively and individually. There were no surprises.
It’s important to use whatever tool works best for you. The point is to keep your goals front and center so that you can easily review them often to stay on track and achieve your annual goals.
How Often Should You Check in on Your Goals?
As I mentioned above, I prefer to review my goals weekly, but I’ve slipped out of the habit recently. And, unfortunately, when I checked in on my progress a few days ago, I found that I’ve missed many key goals for the quarter. A couple were missed by a long shot.
Why? Because I wasn’t focusing on what’s important. I lost my focus and started chasing squirrels. I distracted myself with things I thought were important but did not move my business forward or towards crushing my annual goals.
Uh oh. Can you say, “fail!”
So, what do I do now? How do I get back on track for next quarter and for 2019? It can feel daunting when you check in on your goals only to find you’re way off course.
Taking a step back at this moment and approaching it the right way can make all the difference. The good news is that I still have plenty of time to get back on track for the year, but it will take a little butt kicking (my own) to get it done.
End of Q1 Check In Steps:
First, which of your goals or “rocks” were completed? Mark these as done.
Second, which goals were missed? You will need to level set every goal that was missed. Assess what went wrong and why. Being honest about any mistakes made during this process can help you get to the root of the problem and help you be more successful next quarter.
Third, ask yourself, “how can I do better?” Take some time to evaluate your goals and your approach to achieving your goals. What can be done differently going forward to move you toward success?
Fourth, rework goals, if necessary. Are the goals still realistic and obtainable? Were the goals too large for the quarter or were the planned too early in the year? Did you set yourself up for failure with unrealistic or unobtainable goals from the start?
Creating SMART Goals
Creating SMART goals is one of the most important steps to take when setting your annual goals and Quarterly Rocks, especially if you want to see results in your next end of quarter goal check in! Check out what makes up a good SMART goal below.
This acronym goes back to 1981 when it was introduced by George T. Doran in his article discussing the importance of objectives and the difficulty a person can have in setting them.
The SMART method is a tool that can be used to narrow down objectives into smaller chunks, making them easier to handle and complete within your set time frame.
The SMART method is often used and heard in corporate environments at all levels of the organizational chart, but it really can be applied in all aspects of life. SMART goals can be used in your role as a training leader, instructional designer, eLearning specialist, or consultant.
They can also be used with family goals, financial goals, fitness goals, or launching your own business. The principles of success are the same across the board. Remember, work SMARTer not harder!
Put a Curve on Your Optimism
It’s human to err on the side of optimism instead of setting realistic and achievable goals. In fact, researchers have found that the human brain may be biologically hardwired to be optimistic. This is known as Optimism Bias. If you want to learn more about Optimism Bias, you can check out this article on VeryWell Mind.
I am certainly guilty of the Optimism Bias, but knowing my brain is hardwired to underestimate how long it takes to complete projects and the amount of work that goes into achieving a goal does help me curve my optimism.
With time and practice and using SMART goals, however, I will continue to get better at being more realistic in my planning and so can you!
It’s all about failing forward, right?
Keep the Squirrels Away
The other day I had a realization while I was eagerly running through a slew of ideas on things I wanted to do – building some new courses, writing an e-book, bringing in new clients.
All the while, I was wondering how in the world I was going to manage all of these things, and to be honest I was beginning to feel pretty overwhelmed.
Then it hit me – I should only be focusing on the things that are directly related to achieving the goals I had already set for my business. Ding! Ding!
Once I realized this, I immediately felt relief and clarity and was able to refocus myself and begin making some progress. The feeling of relief I experienced was similar to that of when I complete one of my Tidying Up projects using the KonMari method.
With my renewed focus on what’s important, I was able to refocus myself, revise my goals and continue moving forward with all my 2019 plans in a more realistic and achievable way.
It can be easy to get sidetracked with your goal completion, but by breaking my goals down into smaller “rocks”, being realistic and SMART, and by setting end of quarter goal check ins, it’s definitely easier to head in the right direction!
It’s as simple as rinse and repeat ing every quarter to crush your goals in 2019 and every year after!
How’d You Do Q1?
Tell me how your end of the quarter goal check in went! Did you hit your target goals, or did you miss your mark and have to re-strategize? What helps you stay focused on completing your goals?
Be sure to leave a comment below! I want to hear how your 2019 plan is taking shape and if using any of the strategies discussed has helped you in achieving your goals.
My Facebook Group is a great place to add your questions and engage with other instructional designers on different topics related to instructional design, so jump on in and join the conversation.