I definitely struggle with the illusion that I’m spinning my wheels.
There are so many goals that I want to achieve and so much progress that I want to make, but sometimes I can’t seem to pull it together and actually make any of it happen. Feel me?
I am way too hard on myself to replace my temporary feelings of frustration with “it takes time” – that’s not an excuse. I needed more practical advice. Something tangible that I could use to get my shit together & start making (real) progress. Otherwise, I’m blindly going about my days – hoping that what I’m doing in the moment is propelling me towards my goals.
So I had to create a method, that works for me, to get a grip on what I want to achieve, where I’m at in comparison to achieving it and how I can realistically get there.
It honestly WORKS.
Putting my thoughts through this system has reduced my anxiety by 50%. It has made me feel much more organized and it has allowed me to be much more effective. Because here’s the reality; most people are going no where fast. I don’t care about the speed at which I go, but I do care about effectively moving in a direction (of my choice).
I call it GOAL MAPPING.
I’m a visual learner. If I can write out/draw out what I think I understand and I can communicate it back to you in at least two different ways, then I’ve truly wrapped my mind around it and can then successfully navigate through a plan to make it happen.
For example, I may push away an opportunity simply because I can’t fully understand the details or wrap my head around how to get from point a to point b. It has nothing to do with my capability, skill level or really even availability of time. It has everything to do with me clearly seeing the big picture. If I take just a few moments to sit, undistracted, to goal map and chew on all of the small things – I can make the big things happen.
It’s really practical (which we like) and it’s really simple (which we need)
Here’s how it works;
Step one: Take out your journal or just a blank piece of paper.
Step two: List out the core areas (or focuses) of your life that you’d like to see progress in. Leave some space in between each one. For example; I wrote the words “teaching yoga” “espresso&fit” “social media management” “career” “personal fitness” “book/ebook” “marriage” “personal growth”
Stop here for just a second. Take a good hard look at your headers. Make sure that every single one of those things that you wrote down, are something that you’d choose again. If you’re looking at one area and not really feeling too excited about making progress in it, then erase it. Because who cares. Because you won’t make progress if you don’t actually want to. And who has time to invest energy towards something they can’t get excited about?
Step three: Under each header, (in a fun color), write out your ideal scenario; what is the highest-level version that you would want to achieve. It’s really important to get specific here… Maybe even write what it would feel like to be at that point, what would it look like, etc. Who would you share your success with. Who would you call to tell about any single accomplishment.
Step four: Underneath that, write out bullet points of things that you can start doing right away to make that happen. Despite any of your current circumstances, but also realistic. For example, I want to get a handle on creating my yoga classes. With teaching 4+ times a week, I sometimes have to come up with a new class last minute and it really sends me into a stressful spiral. I wrote out that ideally I want to have a collection of classes that I’ve created that I could pull from and maybe just tweak slightly if I had to. This would save me time and anxiety and I would feel more confident as a teacher knowing that my students couldn’t smell my half-assness. In order to achieve this, I could spend one hour each week creating and documenting classes and storing them all in one place (not the millions of scrap paper, notebooks, phone notes and napkins that I currently use to record classes on).
Step five: under your list of things you can start doing right now to achieve your goals, draw five stars. Next, color those stars based on how difficult you think it would be to implement this discipline into your life. I gave this specific example one star because I think spending an hour each week is really not asking much. It’s an easy habit to start forming.
Do this one with a clear mind. Sometimes I find that things seem really difficult to implement when I’m feeling overwhelmed and just not really wanting to add more to my plate. I also feel this way in the evening when they day is coming to the end and I don’t have any more time to do anything else in my day. So maybe first thing in the morning after a couple rounds of breath would be an ideal time to really evauluate and be honest with yourself about how difficult it would be to move forward towards your goal.
Step six: leave some space for progress notes or tweaks that you maybe want to add in later, etc.
Step seven: Actually use it. Now that you can see your goal, your reality, your action plan and how easy it actually is to implement it – there’s no time to waste.
Effective list making
To piggy back off of the 7 step goal mapping, you need to become a great list maker. There’s list makers… and then there’s great list makers. I’ve been both.
A list maker writes down a list of tasks with hope that they will sometime soon get the sweet satisfaction of crossing some things off.
A great list maker makes a new list weekly or even daily (to keep the priorities fresh and current and to ensure that they’re still important), puts the absolute most important things at the top, does not move on to the second or third thing on the list until the first task is completed and checked off. A great list maker guards their list like a moat full of alligators guards a castle; nothing makes it on the list unless it’s worthy and nothing makes it off the list unless the princess herself said so. (insert hair toss emoji)
Have you ever used a timer while performing a task? I started using a timer when I write blog posts and holy crap I did not realize how much time I was spending writing blog posts… You can’t change what you don’t track. Look at your focuses from your 7 step goal mapping list and start timing yourself. How long does it CURRENTLY take you to do various tasks. Write it down. Then shave some time off of it… start small.
Then set yourself a timer, only allotting a certain number of minutes towards your tasks. This will allow you to not only become better at time management, but it will help you to make better use of your time and in turn be more effective.
This is also great for auditing your life. Which I feel like is a healthy thing to do from time to time. For example, I tracked it and I spend on average 2 hours a day in my car (at least). That’s 14 hours a week, 62 hours a month (equivalent to 2.5 days)… Two and a half days a month I spend enterily in my car. That’s 30 days a year, which is about one month out of the year I’m in my car. I don’t know about you – but I feel like that’s a lot of time. I then took a serious look at how I’m spending that time. How can I make it better? Instead of just mindlessly listeining to music, can I get on the audio book train or podcast more? Can I shift all of my phone calls to when I’m in the car and free up some time somewhere else?
Everyone is allotted the same 24 hours in a day – as cliche as it is, it really comes down to how you’re choosing to spend it. There’s ways to be more effective, there’s ways to shave time, there’s ways to be faster – but none of that really matters if you’re not using the time that you have, to move in the direction that you want to go. Some seasons move slower than others; the progress feels minimal. Sometimes it may feel like you’re not moving at all. But you should never have to feel like you’re spinning your wheels.
I’d love your feedback if you give this a try
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