Sometimes it is worthwhile to take a step back and just look at things from a larger perspective. Seth Godin had a blog post describing maps and globes that pointed out the reasons for doing so. Each day we usually focus on the minutia, the trivial details, and we miss the bigger picture. Even a weekly review tends to focus more on near term goals. Rarely do we review what we want to accomplish for the coming year.
Taking time to pause and look at things with a focus on the long term can help provide clarity when we need it most. When we do this our focus shifts from what we need to do to the why behind it. While many people tend to focus on long term results around the beginning of the year, it’s a worthwhile activity to do more than once a year and usually at some time other than at the beginning of the year.
While there are a number of reasons to do an annual review at the beginning of the year, if a consistent review of those goals is not involved or integrated into a routine, the goals will fall by the wayside and come the end of the year no significant progress will have been made on them. The best system I’ve seen is a quarterly or 90-day review of long term goals. Some people even take the approach of compressing their annual goals so they have to do them within a 90-day time frame.
I’ve been more a proponent of the groundhog day review system, but this year I’ve been toying with the idea of doing the quarterly reviews instead.
I think it comes down to a matter of momentum.
I’ve found that I personally have enough energy and stamina to tackle a series of goals and tasks for about 90 days on my own. If I don’t have a team to back me up on them, then I get distracted and decide that there are other things which are a much higher priority. The monthly reviews are good and keep those goals in front of my mind, but I loose the energy to do them and I have to work harder to motivate myself the longer it takes to get them done.
A quarterly review also gives me more flexibility to respond to changes in circumstances. Yes, sticking with something is important, but at the same time, if that “thing” is not working then it’s better to cut it loose than to stick with it for an entire year just because it’s something I thought was important at the beginning of the year.
On a daily and even weekly basis, you ask more tactical questions of how you are going to get things done. When you begin your quarterly reviews, the questions of excitement, joy and if the goals you have are really making you feel alive. If you feel they are, then you’re doing what Dan Miller would call your ‘true calling.’
If you cannot say you are enjoying your goals and that they are not worth while, then at least you can pivot after 90 days instead of waiting until the end of the year.
So, evaluate your criteria for what success really means to you on a regular basis and adjust your plans accordingly.
You’ll end up happier and more productive in the long run anyway. And that is what’s important.
The image is ‘Chess’ by Eigenberg Fotografie. You can find it on flickr