First Monday of the year and we all unwillingly drag ourselves to work. Crumpled somewhere on your desk is the list of things that had to be finished last year before the party wave swept you away. And among those listed items are the grand plans of upgrading skills, finishing that book and getting down to cleaning junk in your office desk drawers. And as determined as you were, you just you never got down to actually doing them.
And now you are back to the office and the hard hitting reality. You feel like a wreck who never accomplished goals that could have given you a head-start this year. Take heart! It’s never too late to start working on your goals. In fact, it’s actually a great time to pick up pieces, put them together coherently and create a winning pattern for yourself.
Here are a few ways in which you can re-evaluate your plans, rethink and make them more relevant to your current situation in life.
1. Brainstorm: The human mind is fickle and we change by the minute. I am sure you may have a lot of new ideas to add to the existing ones. New things that you heard of, new skills you think you need to acquire, a great course that your colleague suggested or a new hobby that you want to take up – the possibilities are unlimited. Sit down with a paper and pen. Try and jot down all points that come to your mind. Well, they could be learning to play the guitar or complete your pending certification. You will just need to prioritize. You may want yo pick up 2 or 3 important tasks/skills that you aim to achieve during the year.
2. Understand your goals: Which one of the tasks/skills you should choose to focus on will depend on what you aim to achieve. Think of the end result you are looking for! Do you want to manage your time better? Are you looking for a new hobby? Do you want to read faster? Or become more assertive? Think of a couple of things you seek to address this year which will make a difference to your life.
3. Choose the right mode: Once you zero in on what you want to do and the results you want to achieve from it, it’s time to start planning how to achieve them. What is the best medium to work on the skills? Is reading online on time management sufficient? Would you want to attend a 2-day workshop on assertive skills? Is there an online course that you can take up on better writing skills? Will only an executive MBA suit your needs? Google can greatly help you read up and make a list of tips to master basic skills. But some other skills might need more dedicated effort.
4. Figure out the resources: Apart from the mode of study, another important factor to consider is the time available to you. It is not easy to launch into full time programs in the middle of a working career. At the moment, you may not have the time it requires to follow through your ambitious plans. But once you are clear of your plan and priorities, it will be easier for you to fit them into your life gradually. Another important factor to consider is monetary resources in case you aim at a full fledged post graduate course. Do you want to save up or consider a loan?
5. Take time out: Once you have come this far in your planning, it is too late to step back. Chalk out a plan of action with timelines. If you can start off right away, there’s nothing like it. But even gradual progress is worth the effort. Write down a schedule and stick to it. Make a regular commitment – two hours a day, three times a week or say half an hour everyday. Write down markers of progress. Be clear of the milestones you should reach with each passing week or month depending on the skill you choose to work. This will serve as one of your guiding and motivating factors to keep at it.
6. Stay consistent: How often have we promised ourselves to workout regularly? And how many times have we chosen the warm comfort of our beds than a sweating session with your trainer? Well! We are all humans and failure is a part of life. But what’s important is not giving up. I have realized that if we accept defeat after a couple of failed attempts, we would hardly ever make any progress. So the key is to never give in to these failures. Rather, keep at it. You may not find time the first week at all. And make it just once in your commitment the following week. But that is fine. Try and squeeze in more time gradually. As long as you stick to your path, sometimes even on the slow track than fast, you are getting ahead.
7. Reality check: Don’t forget to retrace your steps every now and then to check your progress. Re-adjust your plans if required keeping in mind the end result you decided earlier. There’s no point in going on mechanically without being sure if it’s taking us where we want to be.
The best thing about new years is that it’s a great opportunity to start afresh with renewed hope. And like I mentioned, it’s never too late to start. Don’t give up. Get up, dust yourself and get started again! I wish you all the best.
Suggested activity: Grab a paper and pen and get started on that list right away. You can drop me a line to thank me later!