Before we ring in 2018, we’ve got to do one last tango with 2017: the “to-done” list.
What did you accomplish?
That question isn’t there to make you feel bad for not reaching certain goals – that part is human nature, so forgive yourself. But let’s look at what we did accomplish so that we can better know our true priorities and be primed to make any authentic adjustments that we choose as we say goodbye to an…interesting year.
Let’s work with Basic Brenda to put this review into practice. Here were her goals for 2017:
- Read 20 books
- Work out twice a week
- Drink more water
- Make new friends
- Save $10,000 in the bank
And here’s what she accomplished:
- Read 5 books
- Watched 22 full series on Netflix and Hulu
- Got a new job
- Weekly happy hour with new co-workers
- Worked out twice a week for 12 weeks out of the year
Did she fail? Basic Brenda didn’t reach all of her goals, but not (entirely) because she stayed in bed – she did other things instead, and that’s life!
We aren’t fortune tellers.
We can’t always know what we want to do for an entire year. Goals that sound important or worthwhile at the start aren’t always dropped just because the middle of the process is boring – sometimes something else became more important, or that original goal just didn’t matter to us. It’s not failure, it’s just life, and we’d be well-served to celebrate that fact with the “to-done” list.
One new habit: the “to-done list”.
Every Friday night, I spend about 20 minutes reviewing my planner from the week that is ending. I check off what’s completed, review and reassign anything that’s still important to me that didn’t get finished, and make a “to-done list” that captures everything else of significance that I did that week, so that I can see where my time and resources went. Some weeks I don’t get to blog, for example, even though I have posts outlined, because something comes up in-person at the studio that requires my attention. Some weeks I have a great meal plan set up for myself with a fridge full of ingredients, but then a friend comes to town and we end up eating a few meals out. For months I thought I would repaint my living room, and after copying the task over again and again, I hired painters.
My “to-done” list helps me see what really matters to me and to my businesses, because those are the things that will get my time and attention…and even after a few years, they’re not always the things I would expect!
It also helps me to see if there are repetitive tasks that I can automate or delegate, and if I am happy with how I am using my time. If I’m stuck on a task for a while, I might need to hire someone to help or to advise me on the best way to move forward, or it might be a zombie task that I just need to kill off for now and revisit if it ever becomes more important. (That’s where personal trainers shine, by the way – we’re here to get “get in shape” off of your list of goals and make it a reality by helping you move forward in the way that’s best for you.)
Going back to Basic Brenda’s to-done list, maybe she is happy with the number of co-worker happy hours she is attending – and maybe it’s helping to fulfill her goal to make new friends! But maybe it led to the missed workouts, or cut into her financial goals. Maybe she enjoyed watching all that TV, or maybe she was having to work too hard to decompress from a job that no longer suited her. There are no right or wrong answers to how Brenda chooses to spend her time, but her to-done list review gives her a chance to reflect on that balance and make sure it is working for her.
Make sure you write it down.
Even if you don’t use a planner, write down your “to-done” list in the same spot each week. Part of the value of this review is seeing how we are using our time, and if you try to keep all this info in your head you will probably end up saying “gosh, I just don’t know why I haven’t painted the living room yet”, rather than looking at your written list and saying, “Hmm, I need 8 hours to paint, but I work 12 hours a day. No wonder there’s no painting happening!”
The “to-done” list is one of my favorite tiny changes that will have a big impact on how you set your goals – and on how you feel about what you’re getting done. It feels so much better to look at an unfinished goal and be able to say yeah, I didn’t end up implementing that Instagram strategy this year, but look at all of these things I did instead! (It’s also a great anxiety-buster!)