A Still More Glorious Dawn Awaits
Do you struggle with feeling like you spend most of your time putting out fires and reacting to whatever is the urgency-of-the-day? Like you never have time to make meaningful progress on the things you actually want to accomplish?
This is something I've been struggling with on and off (mostly on) ever since I went into business for myself 3 years ago. There are times and days when I feel on the ball, engaged, proactive, and I've always sought to recreate those days in a predictable manner. I've come to think of this as living proactively versus living reactively. It's a symptom of putting urgency before process.
So what do we do about this? It's been brewing in the back of my mind for the last several weeks, and it culminated in two conversations I had recently:
A colleague of mine, also a consultant and business owner, ranted about how we spin our wheels and talk about the same things over and over, but never make any meaningful progress. Stop thinking about it, stop talking about it, he said, just do it.
Shortly prior to that, my wife encouraged me to be more decisive. Take action. Seek advice when necessary, but don't rely solely on the opinions of others to make decisions.
Both of these pieces of advice got me thinking about how to pull myself out of this reactive-living rut. I've always been a believer that, in order to be successful in living proactively, you need to have systems, routines, and habits in place to support that lifestyle. But for some reason, my systems keep failing. Here's a rough idea of what I had in mind:
- A daily check-in where I set some actionable targets to achieve my goals.
- A weekly review where I review the daily check-ins, draw some conclusions about the week, and plan some higher-level objectives for the following week.
- A monthly check-in where I review the weekly check-ins to ensure I'm on track with my goals and to summarize lessons learned and tidbits of useful information I've learned throughout the month.
I had this entire system set up in my project management tool, but I consistently skipped doing it in favour of reacting to whatever seemed most urgent every day. This time, I set some time aside to really think about what I'm doing, and the best way to implement a system that wouldn't fail.
Enter the SELF journal. I was skeptical at first - I like the idea of having everything digital, so that multiple sources of information can be automated and integrated with Zapier. Fortunately, you can actually print off a PDF of the journal. I printed off a couple of the daily check-in pages and tried it for a couple of days.
What a difference it made.
Just having the physical object was a reminder in itself to check in with myself and plan my day according to my higher level objectives. After three days with the printed-off pages, I bought the journal. The framework it provides matches exactly with what I had in mind, and the 13-week roadmap is a manageable chunk of time to plan out some achieveable goals.
I've never been a huge fan of personal blogging, but this record and the self-improvement tag will be my way of keeping myself in check and recording my experiments and experiences as I try to find the most optimal system of setting and achieving my goals.
How do you stay on top of your goals and ensure you're making progress? Hit me up on the twitters or drop a comment below!