Spring has sprung, and those New Year’s resolutions and January goals may need a little dusting off. Did you know that the average American abandons their yearly goals after one month? Or that ~90% of people give up on their goals after 3 months? Of course, you start from a stronger position if you took the time to set up your goals intentionally from the onset—identifying your big rocks and then breaking them down into easy to manage S.M.A.R.T. goals. However, goal fatigue is real for everyone. By practicing reflection and revision weekly, monthly, and/or seasonally, you can help yourself stay motivated and see your goals through to the finish. That being said, the transition from winter to spring is the perfect time for a comprehensive goal refresh!
What does a goal refresh entail? I have organized the process into four easy steps: take time, assess achievements, consider changes, and return to rocks.
- Take Time
The first step to refreshing your goals is to take time. Set aside an hour or more to thoroughly review your progress to date and create meaningful action steps to move forward. Keep this appointment with yourself! It is an act of self-care and integral to the goal refresh process. Avoid simply annotating or scribbling on top off previously scribed goals.
Taking time can be challenging, as it means you will need to pause and ask yourself the tough questions (such as why you may not have started a task or even regressed in a certain area). However, unpacking the ‘why’behind your actions is important and takes time.
Tip: Choose a calming, comfortable location to complete your goal refresh. This may be your home office or your favorite coffee shop—it is up to you! This time should be motivating and relieving. Eliminate distractions and surround yourself with positive energy.
2. Consider Changes
Before diving into the goals themselves, take a moment to reflect on the month or season that has just come to a close. Your reflection does not have to be formal; however, I recommend writing down your thoughts. This data can be valuable when you reach the next step in your goal refresh. To guide your reflection, you can use the questions below:
- How have you grown this season?
- What were you grateful for this season?
- What are challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them?
- What memorable events took place in your personal life this season?
- What memorable events took place in your career this season?
- Is there something you wish you could go back and change? Why?
- What would you score this season from 1-10? Why?
By answering these questions, you will uncover changes that have occurred in your life that may have had an effect on your progress and intentions.
Tip: If you own a planner/goal planner, a monthly reflection page may already be included. Feel free to use this as a tool to consider the changes in your life. If you do not have a planner, writing your reflections in a paper or digital journal will suffice.
3. Assess Achievements
Now that you have scheduled time to work through your goals and have done some self-reflection, it is time to assess what you have accomplished so far. Breathe! This is not the time for put downs, shaming, or blaming. This is the time for analysis. How far have you come on each of your goals? When you answer this question, avoid grey answers: I did pretty well on that, I kind of completed that goal, I didn’t do so bad, etc. Keep your assessment black and white: Did you or did you not make your target? If you set up strong S.M.A.R.T. goals, each one should be measurable and easy to report on.
Although this black and white mindset may seem a bit harsh at first, it is a crucial first step in the assessment. Once you have identified the goals that were not met, you can dig a little deeper. Ask yourself these questions:
- How close were you to achieving the goal?
- What were your setbacks this season?
- What were your celebrations this season?
All this data will be important when writing your refreshed goals. After asking yourself these questions, it will become clearer what needs to be edited before moving into the next season: your actions, your measurement, your timeline, the relevancy of the goal, etc.
Let us consider an example.
Eliza had a goal of reading two books per month; however, at the end of March, she had only completed 4 books. When determining if the reading goal was on or off track, Eliza began thinking ‘gray’ (“Well, some of the books I chose were awfully thick…I could read more books in the summer when I my work hours shorten…etc.). However, when it came down to it, Eliza decided that she had not met her goal thus far, as she was two books behind. How close was she to achieving this goal? She was ~70% of the way there. Not bad! What were her setbacks this season? Working 11-hour shifts due to a busy season at work. What were her celebrations this season? Incorporating reading into her nightly routine (although she was too tired to read more than a chapter at a time) and discovering some amazing new books. She truly was enjoying reading more.
By examining this data, we can see that although Eliza’s goal is off track, it only needs a few tweaks. It needs to be refreshed. Eliza’s goal is relevant and attainable; however, due to her varying work schedules, she may want to change her timeline. She could rewrite her goal as follows: I will read 20 books by the end of the year. This would take away the stress of needing to finish two titles during the busier times in the year. Another option for Eliza would be to focus on building her habit of reading regular, and not focus on the quantity of books at all: I will find a quiet time to read at least 4 times a week. Both rewritten goals are S.M.A.R.T. and keep the original intention of the goal alive while managing to reduce pressure and better fit Eliza’s lifestyle. Eliza can move into the next season feeling energized, motivated, and refreshed!
Now, how about the goals that are on track? Celebrate your wins! Have a solo dance party or simply put a checkmark on the page to recognize your accomplishment.
Tip: Even goals that are met or on track can be refreshed. If you are feeling indifferent about one of your goals, even if it is going well, ask yourself the three guiding questions and take the same steps to refresh it as you would a goal that is not progressing as well. Each of your goals should spark joy!
4. Return to Rocks
Whew! You have made it to the final step of your goal refresh: returning to your rocks! Your big rocks are the most important parts of your life—your priorities. All your goals should be tied to your rocks. Rocks may include quality time with family, your career, self-care, your passions, etc. They are the tasks, projects, or goals you absolutely accomplish.
Once you have a shiny new list of your refreshed goals, always return to your rocks and ensure that your goals are relevant to your big picture. If you are working on a goal that does not seem to fit your most important priorities, perhaps it should be reevaluated. Is this goal something you genuinely want to devote time to? Is this goal serving your higher purpose?
Tip: Returning to Rocks can help you trim down a goal list that is too long. It is easier to mange 5 goals that are broken down into 15 organized action steps than it is to juggle 15 goals! If you find yourself making too many goals or resolutions, return to your rocks to see if there are areas you can trim down.
By following these four simple steps, you can cross your goals off your spring cleaning list! Your goals will be refreshed and ready for the upcoming season. To learn more about goal setting and planning, visit me on Instagram @cristalvictoria.
Tip: While you can review and refresh your goals at any time, I recommend going through this process at least three or four times per year. As a yearly planner, I start goals on January 1st and refresh them every three months (at the end of March, June, and September) before creating new goals near the end of December. I also assess my achievements and consider changes at the end of each month by completing a monthly reflection page in my planner. Feel free to take these steps and work them into your timeline, as each person’s goalsetting process is unique!