July is a wake up call to make the rest of the year your best season yet.
Have you noticed how people, when they become 40 or 50, enter into a reassessment of their lives? It is what they call the “mid-life crisis”. I’ve noticed that the same happens to me when the 1st of July hits the calendar. I see that the first half of the year is gone and that now I need to start running the extra mile. I remember the intentions I set at the beginning of the year. 1st of July is a wake up call to focus my attention on my goals and choose wisely my actions.
I recommend you revisit your focus, your goals. It is possible they have changed during the past six months. Focus implies choices, it implies saying no. In order to say no wisely, we need to choose what we say yes to. If we chose to say yes to all or to many, we lose focus and our to-do list will grow to unmanageable levels. My recommendation is to choose three and not more than tree objectives. Anything that falls out of those objectives should not be pursued. The objective should be wide enough that would allow for flexibility, and rigid enough that would allow for speed and certainty. My three objectives are:
- Nourish my relationships (love, friendship and family)
- Accomplish my business goals (customer satisfaction, financial independence, social impact)
- Nourish my creativity and playfulness (painting, cooking and running)
As you can see I have made them more specific to a 2nd level also using the magic 3 number. I would like to learn to play piano, however for now I choose to focus my attention on my painting, cooking and running. In December, I might change my mind. The same applies to all the rest. I commit myself to these objectives for this season. Next season I’ll adapt and change my plans accordingly.
Once you are clear on your objectives, it’s time to make them operational. I recommend you to answer these following questions per goal,
- Improve. Here you list the actions that you have been taken and would need some improvement. This could be linked to additional education you would like to follow. This could be linked to a specific dimension you choose to improve: quality, timeliness, precision, etc. I recommend you to improve just one dimension. It will allow you to focus!
- Keep doing: This section helps you to recognize and accept that some of the actions you have been taken are adequate and serve you well. Sometime ago I “instituted” the weekly call to my parents. I enjoy it as much as they do. Now I cannot miss it. It is a routine that provides me joy and allows me to tap into their wisdom.
- Eliminate. This section helps you to identify the actions that are not in line anymore with your objectives. The ones that have proven to be helpful in the past, but are no longer relevant today. Possibly, you might not like them anymore. You should not continue doing stuff that doesn’t work or stuff you don’t like to do. It doesn’t matter if it worked before, it doesn’t matter if it works for someone else, it doesn’t matter if it’s fashionable.
- Add: Be very careful adding activities. Make sure that they are connected to your current purpose. Listen to your own wisdom. Avoid pleasing fashion, gurus or well intended friends. Your own wisdom knows better.
Translate those intentions into an actionable plan.
- Daily actions. Make sure you create a reflection time at the beginning and at the end of each day.
- In the morning, quiet your mind and let your wisdom talk to you. You will find an enormous source of inspiration. Your own knowing will give you answers to the most difficult business/life challenges.
- In the evening, list your accomplishments, your blessings, your successes. Don’t bother about what went wrong during the day. Even after a challenging day, list whatever went right. Make it a habit!
- Weekly actions/objectives. Don’t forget to include idle time. The best way to be productive is to allow silence and rest. When you take distance from your objective, you see possibilities unnoticed before. Chilling is strategic!
- Monthly actions/objectives: Give each month a title, a flavor. This will be the light house, the light that will guide you and help you to keep focus and constant.
Last but not least: Follow up, follow up and follow up! See how it’s working for you. If you see that your interest or motivation for certain action or goal is decaying, reflect on that, write about it, think about it… Don’t avoid your negative feelings. They are an indicator that something is not right. Explore what the issue is behind and adapt your planning. Maybe it works for you to focus on an activity in the evening and not in the morning. Maybe it works better for you to write on paper than direct typing on your computer. Don’t be a slave of your plan. The plan is to guide you. Let’s remember what the master in planning, Eisenhower said: “The plan is nothing, planning is everything”.