I am great at planning. Always have been. I’m a dreamer and also a goal setter. I have big ideas and like to write them down and make a plan to get focused on how best to make it happen. I love to see an idea turn into something real and tangible, as quickly as possible (building this business is definitely teaching me to slow down though!).
This is I’m sure something I have in common with many other entrepreneurs. From ideation to action. And repeat. It’s no doubt in part why I’ve ended up coaching too. My ability to turn my dreams into short, medium, and long term goals, and then move into taking action is something I now enjoy share with my clients. And I love empowering them to go onto do the same for themselves, in the way that best works for them.
One of my close friends Jen is also a coach. Near the end of last year, I was feeling rather low about the lack of progress I felt I was making with the A Life Less Ordinary Wanted business plan. Jen and I met for a coffee (I needed a pep talk) and I told her I didn’t feel I was moving fast enough, or ever getting enough done. I felt disappointed in myself and frustrated. Jen did what a great coach does best, she listened and then gave me a direct, but positive challenge.
“Ok, so right now you feel like you haven’t made enough progress this year, but how aware are you of what progress HAVE you made?”
Oh. Right. I hadn’t thought about that. Thinking about what I could’ve done differently? Of course, loads! Listing what I haven’t yet made happen? Yes, totally - LONG lists! Telling myself off for both of the above? Definitely.
But appreciating what I did manage to get done, not so much. Anyone else? Good, not just me then.
FYI I call this deficit thinking, and call my clients out on it often! Funny, isn’t it that so often we teach what we need to know?
Here are some of the excuses I threw Jen’s way that she lovingly rebuffed:
“Reviewing progress gets in the way of taking action.”
“I’m not much of a reflector, I’m more of a do-er.”
"Looking back stops me looking forwards."
Jen smiled. Then set me some homework. I was to go home, get a bunch of post-it notes, my diary and my calendar and get to work. She said I had to come up with at least three things I’d achieved each month of 2017. And write each thing on its own post it note then stick them all up on a wall. So I’d end up with a grid of my 2016 achievements. She challenged me to be holistic, and not only focus on what I’d achieved with the business but to include my personal life too.
I went home and rolled my sleeves up, keen to see if this exercise would relieve me of the heaviness and guilt I was carrying for ‘not having done enough’ before xmas. A few hours later I was the proud creator of a multicoloured Christmas-tree shaped grid of my 2016 achievements stuck up on my living room wall.
Looking through my diary and calendar month by month helped me to remember the smaller wins that mean a lot to me but might not sound like much to others. Writing down one achievement sparked a memory that involved another milestone - and another post it was needed! My monthly lists quickly far exceeded three things!
It was revelatory for me. I’d achieved so much more than I thought I had each month. I was so proud of that list that I kept it up on the living room wall until last month (yes March 2017, don't judge me).
I realised with my hands on my hips as I marvelled at the techni-colour wall, that this was something I didn’t do enough. Reflect and review. In fact, before this, I had never taken the time to acknowledge all the progress that I’d made in a year. Not once.
Not only did it make me feel fantastic, but I also was able to notice patterns in how the year played out season by season and spot when I achieved certain things. The exercise gave me the insights I needed to set much more realistic goals and targets for this year.
My fabulous coachees will tell you that they were not long after this set a ‘2016 review’ task as homework. Post-it notes and all. Photographic evidence was required, and jubilant emails followed!
It takes a fair bit of time to review a whole year in one go, and as memories fade, the smaller wins and mini triumphs made in January might get missed out. So much goodness can happen in 365 days!
So this year, I’m inviting you to join me in completing quarterly reviews. If you’re up for it, as we are now three months into 2017– it’s time for your first 2017 quarterly review!
Ready? Let’s get to work.
What will you need?
- A bunch of post it notes.
- Your favourite pen
- A blank wall at home/ work
- Your calendar / diary / phone
- A few hours of quiet focused time (you don’t need to do it all at once but you might find once you get into flow you can’t stop!)
What to do?
- Write out the months (Jan, Feb, March) on post it notes
- Using your phone / diary / calendar / whatever you use to track your time / activities, go through each month at a time thinking about what you achieved that month. Remember this is about achievements only, nothing else, not pitfalls, not illness, no excuses!
- Write down each new achievement / milestone / piece of success (both the big and small) that comes to mind on a separate post it note. Stick it next to it’s corresponding month
- Remember to include both personal and professional achievements. Think about the areas of your life that you might not consider, be holistic. Remember finances, family, friends, love, spirituality, health and wellbeing, self development...
- Use the wheel of life to ensure you consider all areas of your life and not only your current priority areas (e.g. career or health)
- Stick up your achievements somewhere visible at home or work and read them over the next few days. Keep your post it notes handy as it’s likely some more things will come to mind!
- Take stock to acknowledge how much you’ve achieved over the last few months and do something to celebrate your progress so far! Maybe cook yourself your favourite meal, or do something you love but don’t often make time to do (uninterrupted day-long mooch around the V&A anyone?!).
- Thank the people who have supported you over the last three months. Let them know you appreciate them and that they're a valued part of your journey.
- Once you're done, you might want to take some extra time to answer the following questions for yourself:
- Can you see any patterns in your achievements?
- When did you achieve the most over the last three months? What caused this?
- Was there anything that held you back? Does this barrier still exist now? If so, what do you need to do to minimise it’s effect on you for this quarter?
- What can you learn from the last three months?
- What are you going to do differently in this new quarter (Q2)?
- What do you want to achieve between now and the end of June? AKA What goals do you have for the next three months?
- What support do you need to make sure the next three months build on your success?
Once you’ve completed your 2017 Q1 review, with the post it notes stuck up on a wall somewhere, please send us a photo / post a link to your review in the comments! I've posted mine up on my Instagram today. I’d love to see what yours looks like and maybe create a collage of ours all together.
From now on, I commit to making more time to review and reflect on my progress and celebrate my achievements. I encourage you to do the same.
What we focus on we energise and give our power to.
And I for one would rather empower my success and achievements than my mistakes or shortcomings! How about you?
Let me know if you have any questions at all, and of course I’d love to hear about what you learn about yourself through the 2017 Q1 review process.
Need some support completing your 2017 Q1 review? Not convinced you've achieved anything this year so far? Why not book a complimentary coaching consultation with me so we can have a chat about what you hoped to achieve this year and how I can support you to make it happen!