Six weeks into the new year, and the crowd at the gym is starting to thin out as New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside.
It doesn’t take long for most folks to lose momentum with their resolutions, mostly because they try to make a big change all at once—a sure recipe for failure. Change happens slowly, one step at a time.
I try to set goals rather than resolutions—and I don’t limit myself to making them on January 1. I find goals more positive because one false step doesn’t mean failure. I’ve set myself up to work on something over time, step by step, rather than make one giant change.
At the prompting of a member of my mastermind group and an article by Chris Brogan, I picked three words to guide me through my year’s goals: grow, stack, and maintain. Here’s how I’m doing with them.
Grow: The Work I Do Will Grow My Business
While this is the cornerstone of my goals for 2016, it’s also slow to show results. Copyediting will launch a book imprint this year, and I’m hard at work editing our first book—a grammar workbook. Progress is slow, but I’m getting there.
How do I keep the progress going? I set aside time to work on the book each week. I set deadlines for myself. And I keep my other two theme words in mind.
2020 update: We did it! The process remained slow, but with goals broken down into doable steps, we got the book published. You can purchase the workbook on Amazon.
Stack: I Will Stack Similar Tasks to Get in the Flow
What can I say? I was trying to fit these statements on an index card. That jargon simply means I’m organizing my work tasks so that I’m doing related tasks in batches. I block time off just for editing, for example, or just for Copyediting-related tasks, like our grammar workbook.
This has been working out great. I feel like I’m getting more done without feeling as scattered about what I did. It’s allowed me to think more deeply and creatively about the projects I’m working on when I’m working on them.
2020 update: While I can’t always control how my day goes, I have continued to use time blocks for getting tasks done, sometimes devoting whole days to one large project.
Maintain: I Will Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance While Growing My Business
For the first time in 15 years, I’m a member of a gym again. (Yes, I’m one of those New Year sign-ups). I’ve always struggled to work out during New England’s snowy winters, and joining the gym has been the boost I needed. It’s helped me create more energy and sleep better. In addition, I’ve kept up with my knitting group, and I have vacation time scheduled for this year.
Taking breaks from work lowers my stress level and gives me more energy when I am working.
2020 update: I didn’t stick with the gym. Turns out, I hate the gym. Still, I’ve spent the last four years focusing on a better work-life balance, and I’ve had some success. I gave myself time to grieve when my dad died. I take time off, sometimes swapping out work hours during the week to do a favor for a friend, making up time on the weekends. And I’ve been faithfully showing up at a local yoga studio for 8 months.
Consider this your check-in. Have you been able to work on your goals or resolutions? If you haven’t been consistent, don’t give up. Pick one small step you can take toward your goal and work on that today. Every step taken is one step closer.
This article originally ran on Copyediting.com on February 2, 2016.