Crumpling my goal worksheet I let out a puff of air. Checking back with my annual goals was heart-breaking. I could check off one or two and failed at the remaining 1001 items.
How is that? What have I been doing all year long?!
One entire year.
I sigh and get a blank sheet of paper. Off to another round.
But wait, I don’t want another round! Not a round like the last one that left me feeling like a failure.
Say Goodbye to Goals
Something had to give. Or to go. I just love setting goals and I jot down so many of them that one could think I got rewarded for each goal on paper.
Well, I don’t.
I realized I have too many goals. So I renamed the majority of my “Goals” to “dreams for later”. You can read all about this process in this post about focusing when setting goals. That made a huge difference. I had to understand that, no, I cannot have it all and all now. I’m just one person and I have responsibilities and boundaries, even if I hate to admit that!
If I want to make significant progress, I need to focus on what really matters.
From Goal-Setting To Planning Action
But now what? Goal-setting alone won’t do the trick. It is not like magic. Goals will not just happen. You need to work to achieve them. Work on them consistently, not in a frantic burst of action, followed by a hiatus.
It’s heart-breaking. Goal lists are near and dear to my heart. They look so nice and it would be so awesome if they turned into reality one year down the road. I imagine the glorious feeling when I sit there at year’s end and check, check, check them off one by one.
No, didn’t happen EVER.
But if goal-setting is not the problem, then what is it that makes me feel like a failure?
Which step have I been missing? Can you guess what it is?
Achieving Goals With A Roadmap To Success
Once I achieved a goal I would reward myself. I pictured myself with the reward and how great I would feel then! You need to envision the goals turned into reality. Hey, even Oprah does that! And Olympic athletes. And little ol’ me.
So, why don’t I win gold medals?
I break my goals down into smaller, more actionable pieces.
I lay out the year before me. Twelve months. So much time to work on my goals! What could I not achieve in one entire year!?
One long year ahead of me. I can invest another week or two into goal-setting, mapping out 12 monthly goals, planning, dreaming, crafting a vision. Do some research, print another cute goal-setting worksheet, and a habit-tracker of course, check what’s trending on Pinterest, check Facebook.
January is over. Really?
Oh. February is almost over, too. I will start afresh when March rolls around.
The Roadmap To Failure
Well, this is the problem with yearly planning. It’s just not working. A year seems to be a long time. We think we have all the time in the world. We think we can do a lot in a year.
And we could. But you just cannot map out an effective action plan for the next 365 days. You don’t live in a bubble. Mom life happens and you will need to adjust.
You still should have a vision of where you want to end up a year or five years down the road. Your vision will give you a direction to head into.
Vision Vs. Plan
When it comes to planning you need a different schedule. You will need a chunk of time that is long enough to make some significant progress and short enough to oversee and map out in detail.
Have a vision for your year. But don’t make a yearly plan. I have tried different schedules and even no schedules at all. And I have researched what top performing people suggest and use.
It seems that there is a planning schedule that beats them all.
It’s planning in 90 days, quarters, or 12 weeks chunks. In the middle of last year when I was devastated and realized I had not made any significant progress, I decided to give it a try. I resolved to take planning more seriously and plan in 12-week segments.
This is it!
It was a complete breakthrough. A year is not a year but four times 13 weeks. Your productivity skyrockets! I have accomplished so much more than I accomplished in years before.
The Planning System To Finally Crush Goals
I now have dedicated planning sessions. Yes, I take some time out of my busy schedule and dedicate it to planning what actions steps I need to take and when I will work on them.
To be exact, I have a planning session each Sunday for the week to come, each month to decide on focus areas and set monthly goals and milestones, and each quarter. After 12 weeks of work, in week 13, I look back, evaluate my efforts, find out what works and what did not, and decide on the big goals for the next 12 weeks.
Find out more about when and how often you should plan to be most successful in this post!
I write down goals and plans. While I had lists of goals before, I never really bothered writing a plan and to-do-lists for each day. But without a to-do-list and concrete action steps to take that day, I would waste a lot of time thinking about what I could do now or just browsing the web to “research”. (And we all know what that kind of research looks like.)
Recap: The Planning System
- Crafting a vision for your life and the next year(s) as a guide
- Big Strategic Planning Session to map out the next 12 weeks of dedicated work
- Define milestones for these 12 weeks
- Monthly planning and goal-setting session
- Weekly planning session
- Schedule the tasks and get them done
- Planning the daily to-to-list and review it at the start of the day
Some Helpful Tools for Planning in 12 Week Sprints
I have a goal tracker to motivate myself. It has 10 big or small goals to reach in one month. If I achieve at least seven of them, I earn a reward. (You can find my monthly planning sheet in the free library for subscribers.)
My favorite tool is a simple daily planner to write down what I need to do each day to reach my goals. I have tried different systems, like Evernote as a digital organizer, printing cute worksheets I found online, and different physical planners.
The “Conquer Your Year” planner by Natalie MacNeil is the best as it is very reasonably priced and is perfect for 12-week planning. It has four “sprints” of 12 work weeks and a week 13 for reflection. It’s undated and covers 52 weeks/one year. I really like how it is set up and designed!
However, the daily planning section is too small for me and only lets you choose 5 daily goals. As I need more space to plan my working days, note tasks, and mom life activities, I supplement the planner with a calendar that was less than 2 dollars. It is almost letter sized, spiral-bound, and has a nice weekly layout to write down anything that needs to get done. I’m a pen and paper type of girl and really enjoy a good old printed planner and some doodling.
In addition to that, I made a 12-week wallboard where I put the monthly goal sheet, a monthly planner and sticky notes with items that need to get done. Those sticky notes can be moved from one week or month to the other if necessary.
Are you still with me? Let me summarize at a glance what I’m using to get more done than ever with planning in 12-week sections.
Recap: The Tools
- Planner to plan the week and schedule the daily tasks
- Monthly planning and goal-setting worksheet (Get one free in the library for subscribers)
- Goal tracker sheet
- An overview of the month/Monthly planner/Calendar
- An overview of the current 12-week section (Get one free in the 12-week planning kit for subscribers)
- A worksheet for week 13 to look back and plan the next 12 weeks
- Dumpsheet (paper or digital) for ideas, to-do-lists, tasks
- Printable weekly planner sheet or paper planner with weekly spreads
- “Conquer Your Year – The Ultimate Planner to get more done, grow your business, and achieve your dreams”. Natalie MacNeil. It’s a great fit for planning in 12-week sprints, has a great design and set-up, and is less than 13 Dollar. You can start using it any time.
- “CREATE Blog and Editorial Planner.” By Meera Kothand for bloggers who want to use the 12-week system to run their blogging business.
- “The 12 Week Year”. By Brian Moran and Michael Lennington. Read this book if you want to learn about the 12-week planning in detail. I highly recommend you add this to your reading list!
If you want a headstart into the 12-week planning system I got your back! Subscribe and download the printable 12-week planning kit. It holds the most important sheets to get you started with the power planning system I fell in love with. I’m sure you will love it, too, as it will help you get more organized and get so much more done without adding more stress to your busy mom life!
Please, subscribe and let me know how you are going to use the 12-week planner worksheets! Where will you be 12 weeks from today?
Pin if you found this helpful! Thank you!
Rahela@Smart Biz Coaching says
Great tips. I struggled with organizing things out just because I used to avoid to put things down to paper. I had no difficuties to show my cliehrd how to keep tracks but at the se time, I wasn’t doing it properly for myself. I needed to learn it is IMPORTANT to write EVERYTHING. I am looking forward to reading more of your awesome content.
Julie @ Pixel Perfect Blogging says
Great tips! I love working in 12 week spurts. It makes for motivation all year long! Thanks!
Carolin Eichholz says
Same here! 🙂