Most goals fail because they are forgotten.
Think about it. You could have a well-defined goal, action items with next steps, a beautiful gantt chart, and still forget the goal 3 months later.
When we plan goals, they are the single most important thing in our universe. But when it comes to actually doing our goals they rank on our list of most-important-tasks right below scrolling Twitter and Instagram. And over time, they continue to fall down the list untill they are buried below things like organize and label spice cabinet.
We may make a last ditch effort to move them back up the list but perfectionism is there to shame us due to our lack of progress. So why bother?
How is it our goal went from being significant enough to map out and plan, to something we feel shame over?
While taking the first step toward our goals is important, finishing is the hard part. Statistically, the odds are stacked against us. So how do we beat the system despite the universe resisting us at every turn?
Beat the system with a weekly review for your goals.
Goals have long suffered slow, drawn-out death sentences. Quietly fading into the white noise of life until they are forgotten. Not because they aren’t important — I’m sure every person that has suffered the loss of a well intentioned goal would tell you it was important.
Goals fail as the result of two things.
- A lack of clarity on how to make progress
- The tyranny of the urgent
And that’s a deadly one-two combo.
If only we could bottle the excitement and inspiration we felt when setting the goal initially. When the thief of goals comes knocking we would simple retort, “Aha! Not today sucker. I know what is most important and I know what to do about it!”
(Er, something like that.)
And while my fictional encounter with said goal-thief may not come to pass, there is a way we can ensure our goals don’t suffer a silent death.
In All Thy Doing, Do Review
The secret sauce to any effective goal system is regular review. Implementing a weekly review increases the likelihood achieving your goal more than any other factor. You could replace the word review with accountability. Because that’s essentially what a weekly review is. Holding yourself accountable to what you said you’re going to do.
It’s hard to know what you’ll be up against when planning 3 or 6 months in advance. You’re basically guessing. You set the goal and pray life aligns perfectly to help you finish your goal. But we both know that’s not how it works. Stuff happens. And due to the fact that you’re unable see the future you are left feeling rather helpless.
For any goal to have a fighting chance, there must be regular review. Weekly seems to be the magical interval. Just enough time to make incremental progress, but not too large a span of time to give your goals a chance to slip out of sight. The point of a weekly review is to keep your goal(s) front and center and make progress.
Your weekly review should consist of these three things:
- Recount (What did you do in the last week?)
- Assess (Where are you now in relation to your goal?)
- Plan (What will you do this week to make progress?)
(If you’re into acronyms you could say that you need to RAP, at least once a week.)
Essentially, you are looking back, reviewing the big picture of where you want to go, and deciding your next plan of action.
This does a few things.
- It keeps the important stuff of life in front of you, not just what’s urgent.
- It allows you to course correct each week as life happens.
- It helps you discover which actions are moving you toward your goal and which are less effective (This is key to keep from repeating the same mistakes).
Do This ?
To give you goals a chance at surviving, implement a weekly review as soon as possible.
- Pick a day, time, and place, that you’ll hold your weekly review. Keep it the same every week if at all possible. You want this to eventually have a pavlovian effect.
Recount, Assess, Plan (RAP). What did you do this last week to move toward your goal? Where are you in relation to achieving your goal? What are you going to do this week to make progress?
Bonus Points: Tell someone what you’re going to do this week to move you toward your goal.
Once you’ve developed a regular cadence for your weekly review (same time and place), focus on RAP: recount, assess, and plan.
Assuming you are tracking some metric of data, update your chart. Whether it’s an Excel spreadsheet or a log you keep in a journal, keep track of your progress. You’ll want to have this on hand during your weekly review.
You need to be able to see progress. This is critical. If you can visualize progress, and associate that progress to your actions, it will increase motivation and momentum. Basically, once you make the connection that what you are doing is working (i.e. moving you toward your goal) you’ll want to see progress during every weekly review. You’ll begin to look forward to your review because you already know what the outcome will be.
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I threw together a one page worksheet to review your goals. Print it out each week for your review. If you’re interested, mash down on the button below. ??
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