It’s time: summer is around the corner, and just like students leaving school with finals completed and report cards in hand, it’s time for our own progress report. I like to treat the halfway mark of the year as our own professional midterm, of sorts. Before giving way to the social and nostalgic distraction of a summer break – take some space to pause.
I’m here, gently, lovingly, with empathetic accountability, to invite you to check in with yourself on your goals and priorities for the year.
Before you shrink in your seat or start hustling on your goals like a college student’s last all-nighter of the semester, it’s not what you think. I’m not worried about how much progress you’ve made or whether you’re on track to achieve everything you’ve laid out for yourself.
I’m here to help you ask yourself, “are my goals serving me, or am I stuck in the service of them?”
Having Goals Doesn’t Mean You’re Done with Goal-Setting
You set your goals in January – or at any other point – and you’ve been working steadily towards them all year. Progress feels good, so if you feel productive – great!
But you’re not done with the goal-setting process.
A lot can change in a few months. The last couple of years has proven that, as if it were the goal of the 2020s, to make that point for me.
So rather than barrel blindly toward a goal that feels like it was set in a different world as a different person, we’ll examine those goals periodically, adjusting the ones that need it—tossing the ones that truly no longer serve us.
I often work with clients who are caught up in a goal that no longer aligns with their priorities.
I’ll have clients who are understandably laser-focused on their bottom line, all energy committed to driving revenue. Running a small business is a high wire act at times, and that focus often means survival!
But sometimes, like one of my clients, it means overshooting your goal so far you surprise even yourself. When this particular client saw how far ahead they were on revenue, their first instinct was to keep going – the mighty dollar is a seductive pursuit.
Ultimately, when they paused to consider the options, this success and overachievement meant that this business owner finally had the freedom, cushion, and room to delegate more. That meant freeing up time for priorities that had simmered on the back burner for quite a while. It meant they could finally carve out space to begin writing the book they’d dreamed about for years.
Goal-setting is an ongoing, even circular process. It’s not a straight line from setting to achieving – authentic achievement is the result of consistent reevaluation of your priorities and the strategies you’re using to hit your benchmarks.
Consider this your invitation to take stock of where your work is taking you. It’s good to put your head down and work, to get shit done, to make things happen. But every so often, it’ll serve you to pause, look at where all that work is taking you, and make the changes to course-correct if you no longer want to go where that train is headed (or if it’s veered off course).
Keys to a Productive Review
You’re not being graded, and this isn’t being filed with HR. But you do want to be effective and gain clarity in the process of this self-reflection. No matter if you’ve met your goals or avoided them, the key here is, to be honest with yourself about what – if anything – needs to change.
Here’s some structure to help you get there:
1. Schedule It
Put time on the calendar to take stock of your progress so far. And then honor it like you would a meeting with a client. Prioritize your check-in with yourself – you deserve the attention!
2. Have an outline of what you want to cover.
You’re planning to have a conversation with yourself. You get to set the agenda, and the most valuable answers might lie behind the toughest questions.
Some of the topics and questions to consider are:
○ Start with the end in mind – what do you want to achieve (in this meeting, your business, and your personal life?)
○ What are you doing consistently that is working?
○ What are you doing inconsistently that is working?
○ What are you doing consistently that you don’t want to be doing? Can you delegate it – or plan to delegate it in the future?
○ What does success look like to you? Reconnect to this.
○ What’s weighing you down?
○ Is there anything you can simplify, delegate, or automate?
3. Reflect & Reassess
Now you have at least some of the answers from step 2. Reflecting on what they mean in total is what’s going to give you clarity.
So, overall, is the business (or career) you’re working towards going to sustain the life you want, or is it consuming it? What, if anything, do you want to change?
4. What one thing would make reaching your goals easier?
This sounds a lot like the step 2 question about delegating the things that you don’t want to be doing or could delegate. But I want you to think bigger picture here and get thinking out of the box.
For me, the one thing I need to do is make sure I include fun in my day. When I’m in full-blown hustle mode, it negatively impacts my business – and life. I am a better business owner, leader, friend, parent, and – in general – human being when I’m having some fun.
Knowing that, I make space for it, and set the hustle-bug aside without guilt or apology. Having fun is helping me achieve my goals. So it’s non-negotiable.
5. Time block your priorities
Before you adjourn your meeting with yourself, look at your calendar and schedule time to implement your insights, intentions, and goals. Know your ideal benchmarks – are they one month, three months, a year out?
If you decided you need to do more, do it with a timeline in mind, and mark it down now. Don’t hustle endlessly.
If you decided you need to do less, give yourself the permission to honor that! Have an idea of when you’re coming back to full capacity (or if you’re redefining full capacity) and schedule your next check-in with that in mind – it’s your next dedicated chance to ask yourself if you’ve made the right adjustments.
Finding Success and Ease in the Right Priorities
What if you’re worried that you’ll be called out for changing your goals, priorities, or timeline?
I know, easier said than done. The F word (failure!) is always lurking in the self-doubting corner of our minds.
In the course of evaluating their goals, one of my clients realized they no longer wanted to hit their one-year commitment of going independent and quitting their full-time job. A longer timeline felt right and balanced their personal and professional priorities better. But they were really worried about what everyone would think – particularly because they had proudly shared their original goal and timeline. Friends, family, colleagues knew the track my client was on and, in some cases, were part of the plan.
When they finally mentioned that their new goal for making this huge, career-altering change was a few years out instead of months? It didn’t phase a single person. In fact, they were happy for my client and applauded the change.
And more importantly, that change brought with it joy and relief. My client told me how much lighter they felt. I saw it, their friends and colleagues saw it, and we were all happy to see how much positive impact one honest adjustment had.
You can unhook from what you think other people may think – these are your goals for YOU, not for anyone else. Your goals affect you the most… which is probably why even your closest circle of people is VERY likely to accept, respect, even celebrate your recalibration.
You know what you want and need to do. And now that your goals align with your priorities, you’ve got your roadmap to get there.
Just remember to have fun on the journey!