3 Points to Ponder Before Moving Forward

Do a Before-the-End-of-the-Year Review for the Boss in You 

by Leah L.A. Taylor (author of 21-days to Your Best Life Yet) 

Many thanks Marcus Santos for the photo.

Doing a before-the-end-of-the-year review can increase your productivity (saving you money and time) and will answer the most critical question — Am I on the right track for my best life yet? Because no one, surely not a Boss lady or man, wants to wake up on December 31, 2021, no better than they were on December 31, 2020. I know I don’t.  

The problem is that we tend not to know when to stop to review our efforts. As if movement automatically means we are moving in the right direction. Well, it is not.  

For instance, Monday night, I did a lot of chair dancing with my four- and two-year-old cousins from out of state, who unexpectedly visited, ate dinner, and decided to dance off their meal with Baby Yoda songs at nine o’clock in the evening. They were moving like crazy, and at one point, the two-year-old dropped it like it was hot, to which her dad said, “No, no, no, stop that,” and all the adults laughed until it hurt. Indeed, she was moving, but it was not in the right direction. In fact, we were all moving because those bad lip-syncing songs had a sweet beat. But we were not productive. 

Stopping to rest and review and to, possibly, reevaluate is a part of the productive process. The best, most winningest coaches know it well, and thus they make the best halftime adjustments. So, if we are the bosses of our lives, the producers of our destinies, we cannot afford to procrastinate on an honest review of how the year’s going.  We must stop midway (half the year) or, better yet, quarterly to take a self-check of where we stand according to our best-laid plans.  

Here are three questions worth asking yourself before moving further toward your best life. I will use two of my 2021 first-quarter goals as the example: 1. complete novel writing, and 2. organize my new living space.  

  1. What was the plan anyway?  

C’mon, be honest. Some of you do not even remember what your beginning of the year goals or resolutions were. I hear your brain working. Many of you are wondering right now, “How many days did I say I was going to work out a week?”  

I’d be the first to admit that I would not remember either if I had not written my goals down. The day was sunny (or was it rainy?), and I slept in to write down my big goals (or did I write them after an early morning run)? All of that is fluff.  I haven’t a clue about the setting on the day I wrote my goals. What I do know is that on the last day in January, I committed to completing my final edits on my novel and organizing my living space. Then I took a week off to prepare, buying the tools I would need, and on the second week in February, I hit the ground running.   

I wrote an entire article on writing down your goals if you want to read about that later, but written goals are good for at least two reasons:  

  1. 1. to follow and  
  2. 2. to refer to (at times like these).

That is why I encourage people always to write their goals down and store them somewhere you will remember to look in four, six, and twelve months down the road. Hint: Creating a file folder for goals is a good place to start.  

  • Did you have your written goals in front of you? 

Once you know your plan, you can ask yourself, what did I do with it? That’s the next question. 

  1. What did I do with the plan?  

This is not a question about location (we already discussed that above). This is a matter of using the plan and assessing how it is working for you. Because it is one thing to write goals, but it is an entirely different thing to follow them. Answering question two will determine whether you are a writer and a doer or if you are merely a scribbler and a dreamer. Sometimes we write things to get them out of our heads, and we never return to them. That may work on decluttering our thoughts, but it is not viable for projects with purpose. So, which are you? Doer or Dreamer? 

I am not the latter, but I am not doing all that I should, either. Although I hit the hard, writing in the mornings (when my ideas were fresh) and unpacking boxes in the afternoon, I had quite a few interruptions and distractions that took me well off the beaten path. As a result, I did not complete either goal.  My strong start did not ensure a strong finish.  

One of the cool things I did manage to do well for the novel writing involved creating a spreadsheet to track my morning writing. At a glance, I was able to see my daily word count, a synopsis on each chapter, the word count, and whether another reader critiqued it. Unfortunately, my writing was not always on the novel. But for the most part, I did sit down most mornings to write.  

As for organizing, which I committed to doing in the afternoon hours, I did pretty well prioritizing the rooms, planning to organize a room per month, buying items needed to complete my projects. However, I was not always physically able to do anything beyond resting, especially after an elderly woman slammed into the side of my car. I got worst before getting better, and unpacking boxes between doctor’s appointments would have been counter-productive to my healing. So, I ended up doing the bare minimum in all of the rooms. While the garage is better than it was, it is still a far cry from having enough room for two cars.  

  • What did you accomplish? 
  1. Am I on the right track?  

The final question in a quarterly or mid-year review is a combination of several questions. A critical part of reviewing our response to our plans, is reevaluating our Why (the reason for starting the project or goal).   

  • Ask yourself:  Is my current goal lining up with my vision for my best life, my business, my relationships, or whatever?  
  • Am I satisfied, empowered, deflated, or something unexpected?   
  • Then follow-up with another question: Would I do it again?  

By now, you should have a sense of whether this is a project or goal worth repeating. Ask yourself if you were to relive the past few months, would you spend your time working on —you fill in the blank — again. Consider the importance of the goal, the time investment, the resources, and the manageability.  

Answer honestly.  

Then take your new knowledge and determine whether you need to eliminate, pivot, or execute further. 

Eliminate. 

If you have learned by reviewing the last four to six months that your activity in an area is not achieving much towards your plans for a better life or business, let your plans for that activity go. Shoveling up stony ground only hurts you and your shovel in the process. So let it go.  

Recall that all activity is not an accomplishment. Dancing with my little cousins way past my bedtime was a fun activity but it was not productivity. And some of my writing time was no more meaningful than a toddler playing with a rattler. I made some noise on my keyboard, but in the end, it did not matter much.  

We must eliminate the busy work to reach our desired results. It’s okay to say “no” to something you thought was a plus when you realize it is a minus.  We cannot regain our time, so the sooner you come to terms that something is not working for you and is wasting your resources, the better.   

Pivot. 

At other times, we need to pivot on our previous plans. Like me, I planned to complete the novel, edits, and all, but I did not because I did not prioritize my novel writing. During an honest review, you may realize that your goals are a necessary work in progress, and your plan needs a little tweaking. 

For effectiveness, it is wise to understand your limitations. Otherwise, you may make the same mistakes twice. Since I took the time to review what I proposed to do against what I could do, I gained clarity on what it will take to finish strong.  

My goals written in February are still fundamental to how I see my best life — in a clean and organized space to do my writing and engage with family and friends once this pandemic is over. I know where to loosen up based on personal limitations. For instance, a maximum of three tasks a day is enough for me. I also know where to tighten up on my time. My spreadsheet revealed the gaps in my writing efforts and helped me refine my writing schedule of creating new materials in the morning and returning to revisions later in the day. I also need to stick to my schedule and go to bed on time. Maybe you can, but I cannot give in to distractions like binge-watching Lasso or having lengthy phone conversations in the middle of the day, or frivolous political arguments every evening, all of which leave me feeling tired and worn the next morning.  If I am too tired to complete a task, I must admit it and take the necessary time to rest, relax and know that tomorrow is another day. Worrying about what coulda, shoulda, mighta been only leads to anxiety and stunts my growth for the rest of the week. Perhaps this is true for you too.  

Therefore, consider that although the plan is not working perfectly or as expected, you may see a light at the end of the tunnel that is bright enough to keep moving towards, with a more realistic plan. So, take what you learned during the review and build on the strides made over the last few months. If you are like me, we can celebrate our small wins and begin again for the next quarter. 

Execute.  

Some of you are doing so well with your goals and projects for the year that you only need to keep doing what you are doing with greater fervency. Once you have answered the questions, done the proper assessment, and you are confident that your success aligns with your purpose, the only thing left for you to do is to execute to the fullest extent because you are on the right track.  

For pivoters, a strong start and a gradual slump can still result in a strong finish. We need only remain faithful to a few adjustments in order to get back on track. That’s what I decided to do. 

Both of my goals are works worth pursuing. My closet looks nice, my office is functional, and at least one car can fit into the garage. I can only imagine what each room will look like in the next four months! But if I stop now, I can also imagine what each room will look like in the next four months! The latter thought gives me the heebie-jeebies. Regarding my novel, if I don’t continue with the daily writing and use of my spreadsheet to keep me on track, then I will never become a novelist and never share this book that my beta readers are cheering me on to complete. Plus, it will feel amazing to have accomplished something I encourage others to do.  

None of these realizations would have been possible without a before-the-end-of-the-year review and an honest assessment refines the long-range planning process. It is like polishing a fine gem, so it shines brighter.  And you and I are worth the time it takes to make sure we are glowing, growing, and moving toward our best destinies.  

There is no loss, either way. If you review and learn, you need to eliminate or make a pivot; at least you know why. We all need to be pursuing something that leads to our best lives. I hope these tips enable you to move forward with certainty. ❤️  You’re three steps away.  

Words of Wisdom: 

“Before preparing to improve the world, first look around your own home three times.”  

Chinese Proverb

“But each one must carefully scrutinize his own work [examining his actions, attitudes, and behavior], and then he can have the personal satisfaction and inner joy of doing something commendable without comparing himself to another.”  

Galations 6:4 (AMP)

After completing your before-the-end-of-the-year review, please tell me what you learned. Did you decide to eliminate, pivot, or execute your current plan or projects, and why?  And to learn more about organizing and vision planning, visit me at ReallyLeah.com. 

Yours truly, 

Leah 

Many thanks to William Daigneault for the photo.