It doesn’t take long for any of us to think of projects we’d like to finish, new skills we’d like to try, or talents we’d like to increase. Living a fulfilling life is all about creating new and meaningful experiences. These things require planning—they won’t just happen on their own. But sometimes we’re so buried in the stress of today that we can’t see tomorrow. Sometimes we get caught in the survival rut struggling to tread water, and although we often imagine and dream about forward progress, we can’t seem to get around to doing it.
Our vision is off—our perspective is skewed, and all we can see is the task at hand.
This happens to all of us at various times in our lives. First-time parents often talk about losing a piece of their identity when their children are born because they don’t have the time to enjoy the things they used to do before the baby came. New managers find themselves staying later at work finishing projects and reports or planning for tomorrow—things they hadn’t had to do before—leaving them with less time with their families. Sometimes our perspective needs to narrow so we can hone in on what matters most, but we can’t make that a habit at the expense of our other priorities. That’s why we need to plan from three vantage points.
Schedule regular planning sessions throughout the year to focus on your long-range goals. Where do you want to be in five years? What do you want to accomplish by the end of the year—in six months—by the end of this month? Write your goals in your planner along with the steps necessary to reach them. For example: Perhaps you’d like to write, illustrate, and self-publish a children’s book. Set dates when you’ll have the copy written, give yourself a deadline for each image you plan to create, and set a time when you plan to publish your piece. Each of these steps are long-range goals, so break each of these goals into smaller pieces that you can work on regularly, and schedule them in your planner.
Your Monthly Master Task List is an ideal place for goals that don’t yet have a set timeframe. List your long-range goals in this section of your planner so you can refer to them during your weekly planning sessions.
During your weekly planning sessions, look through your Monthly Calendar Tabs and schedule any events you have listed for the week. Then refer to your list of long-range goals on your Master Task List to determine which steps you can accomplish this week. Then schedule those tasks throughout your week and prioritize them to ensure they get the time they need.
Spend a few minutes each day looking over your planner. Are there tasks hanging over from yesterday that need to be placed on today’s task list? What appointments do you have today, and how much time will they give you to focus on personal goals? Once you’ve determined these things, jot down any tasks you’d like to complete today. Don’t worry about any order; just get them onto your list.
Once your list is written, prioritize your tasks by urgency and importance A, B, and C. Then order all of your ‘A’ tasks 1, 2, 3. Do the same with your ‘B’ and ‘C’ tasks until they’ve all been prioritized. Work on your ‘A’ tasks first, starting with A1, and see how far you can go. This process takes just a short time, but it will save you time and frustration by ensuring you’re working on the most important things first each day.
You can see that all of these three perspectives are connected. Each one builds on the next. Long-range plans lead to weekly plans, which lead to your daily plans. Often we’re tempted to view our goals from all three perspectives at once, but that can be overwhelming.
Here’s an example: If you hope to start a small in-home business to supplement your income, it’s easy to see the goal from all three perspectives at once and decide it’s too complex. You may ask, “When will I have time in my day to do that? How will I finance my expenses? What do I hope to gain from this experience? How can I be sure I’ll make any money or find any clients? Do I really have the skillset to make this work?”
Asking those questions is a necessary part of establishing your business, but remember that each question will be answered from a different point of view. You may not have all the skills you’ll need today, but you can create a long-range goal to establish those skills. You may not see a way to carve out the time in your day to work on your business right now, but during your weekly planning sessions, you’ll begin to see opportunities you don’t see today. You may not be sure how you’ll find clients, but during your daily planning you’ll realize you have time to create a flier, or work on your website.
With time, your fears and doubts will subside as you separate your goals into pieces that you can view from these three different perspectives. Before long you’ll realize that you’re moving forward and making progress where you once thought you would never find success.
Viewing your plans with a Long-range perspective, a weekly perspective, and a daily perspective is the secret to confidently reaching your goals without overwhelming yourself and those around you.