Your Six-Month Review: Are You on Track?
Written by Professional Academy Management and Leadership Tutor, Kathryn Knights
At the beginning of the year we set goals, but are you still on track with them? You don’t need to wait until December to review your progress, a mid-year check-in is a great time to reflect on the past and re-energise yourself for the next six months.
Most people lose momentum with their goals by February, all the enthusiasm that they had back in January dries up and they’re back in the rut they were in at the end of the previous year. It’s a familiar pattern.
The reasons people give up on their goals
Some of the most common reasons people get off track are:
- No visible progress – when you first embark on a goal the result you desire can feel so far off and unobtainable that you’re defeated before you even begin. And even if you do start to take action the progress can feel insignificant.
- Feeling uncomfortable – new ways of working and striving to be better can feel painful and the lure of the old and comfortable are just too strong to ignore.
- Life happens – a holiday, injury or illness, a different pressing work commitment can all throw you off track making it hard to get back in the driving seat again.
- Relying on willpower – people believe willpower will be enough to take them through from start to finish but in reality it doesn’t work. We have a limited amount of willpower each day and once it’s used up you can’t count on it any more.
- No real ‘why’ – people set goals that are either too superficial and have no deep significance for them or they set out to achieve something for the benefit of another person, both of which will lead you to run of out of steam.
How to review your last six months
Let’s assume you haven’t given up on your goals and that you are still making some progress on them or that you have the desire to start work on them again.
Here are the steps you should follow to set yourself up for success for the remainder of the year:
• Step 1. Where are you now?
Ask yourself what you have achieved so far (hopefully you’ve been capturing this somewhere). What’s left to achieve? What are the lessons you have learnt?
• Step 2. Are your goals still relevant?
Do you need to scale down or remove some goals?
Scale down - did you set a goal that was so challenging that you’ve reached burn out and now you’re left wondering how you can keep going? If so, don’t be afraid to change your goal to reduce the burden, whilst still having something challenging to focus on.
Remove - you can’t focus on five goals. Focus on one. The power of one goal accomplished is far more valuable than four half-done. Completion gives you confidence and momentum for the next goal. So strip out the distractions and focus in on one goal at a time. When you’ve reached your goal, move on to a new one.
• Step 3. Look at what you’ve got left
With the one goal left to achieve at a time you can be laser focused in your line of attack. Break down your goal into practical action steps to avoid any friction that might be created around taking action on your goals. Work backwards from your end result to take you all the way back to your very first step. For example, if you want to teach a workshop the first step might be brainstorming workshop topics with a colleague.
• Step 4. Create rituals
Rituals build momentum and will make your goals sticky. For example, if you want to lose weight you might decide to go to the gym (the habit) but that won’t just happen. You need to create the ritual to support it.
A ritual has four elements:
1. The marker – is the reminder to do the ritual e.g. packing your gym bag the night before and leaving it by your front door.
2. The routine – is the habit itself. This is the thing you said you were going to do e.g. going to the gym.
3. The reward – is what you give yourself when you have executed the routine. Choose something simple that can be repeated e.g. a relaxing shower or diving into your favourite book.
4. The tool – is the thing that can help you achieve the ritual. NB the tool doesn’t make everything work. You have to understand your ritual before you get the tool. If you buy new trainers it won’t make going to the gym inevitable, but it might make running a little easier. Only invest in tools once you have carried out steps one to three first.
• Step 5: Track
Management expert Peter Drucker once said, ‘what gets measured gets managed’. It’s hard to argue with numbers so try to write goals that have a number attached to them to make tracking simple. For example, ‘I will write a blog post every day for six months’.
• Step 6: Review
Set aside some time on a regular basis (fortnightly or monthly) to reflect on your progress. By adding review sessions to your calendar you will ensure you are always moving towards your goal, making any necessary course corrections. During your review ask yourself what you need to stop, start and continuing doing to keep making progress.
Be kind to yourself
Working towards your goals will involve some hard work but when the scales are tipped too far in the direction of pain rather than challenge you can quickly become switched off. So set goals that will stretch you but not kill you. And make sure you spend time celebrating your successes along the way. The outcome of a goal is short-lived so focus on making the journey that takes you there enjoyable.
If you need further advice, get in touch via LinkedIn.
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