Now that summer is here, do you even remember your New Year’s resolutions? Did you make any? Of course you did—or at least you thought about them. If you are like most of us, you frequently think about ways to improve your life, your work and yourself. But while they may pop up to nag us on occasion, most resolutions fade soon after they are made.
Get Organized and Renew the Commitment
Why not use the mid-year point as an opportunity to focus and and make real progress toward your goals—before it’s time to make yet another New Year’s resolution (or the same one, again). Think back on your most important resolution. What are some steps you can take to make the changes really happen this time?
- First, plan not to forget. If you are having trouble remembering your resolutions, here’s a tip. Record your resolutions in the notes space on the January 1 page of your calendar each year. You will be able to find them when the rest of the year takes over, and you can look back on previous years to see where you have been.
- Now, chart your course. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan—just a few easy action items to get you going again. Write down these first few steps. Lasting change is a constant series of minor adjustments, and the remaining steps will emerge as you move forward. The most important thing is to write down those first few steps and begin.
- Establish repeated focus. Repeated attention to your goal is what you need to make it happen. So it’s important to schedule regular appointments with yourself to check in and review your progress. Quarterly check-ins are valuable because a few months are generally required to make meaningful movement toward change. Personally, I set my calendar to remind me to review the plan one month after I create the initial list of action steps. Then I like to schedule monthly check-ins. But, truth be told, those first couple of months are typically used to nag myself. (One of my goals is overcoming procrastination!)
- Use your calendaring system. An electronic calendar makes it easy to remember check-ins—and an electronic task list is even better. Nevertheless, a paper calendar also can be useful,too—just enter the check-in appointment on the appropriate date and keep your action steps list close by (be sure to share it with your assistant)
The Check-In Session: Evaluate Your Plan, Evaluate Your Progress
At check-in time, follow this simple routine.
- Review your list. Naturally, you’ll need to read the list, but don’t let this be a passive review. Be active and engaged—edit your steps, refine them, add a few more.
- Evaluate what’s working? Hopefully there was some action. Did it help? Why not? Is it worth continuing? Add your thoughts to the notes.
- Plan what’s next. Think about opportunities you will have to implement your plan in the coming days and weeks. Add notes to your appointment schedule and make a few engagements that will support your efforts in the coming month.
- Schedule your next check in. Whether it is in a month or two, or at the end of the next quarter, make and keep that appointment with yourself!
For me, check-in sessions generally take about 10 minutes. But whenever I get overwhelmed with other pressures and put it off, I know it’s time to slow down and really take stock. In that way, the process serves as a check on my mental state as well.
Reviewing my notes at each check-in is always a revelation—an affirmation that change is possible and always positive. Progress, however you measure it, is rewarding evidence that growth is ongoing. More importantly, successful change provides energy for further change.
So how far have you come mid-way through the year? Is it time to make a date with yourself to refocus and begin again?
Vedia Jones Richardson is a Principal with Olive and Olive, PA, an intellectual property firm in North Carolina. With degrees in law and design, her career has included experience in television, advertising and corporate communications. Vedia is a past Chair of the ABA Law Practice Management Section and a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. She has chaired the annual Bar Leadership Institute for the NC Bar Association and the ABA Women Rainmakers Mid-Career Workshop, which she founded in 2007.