I, like many others, gave up New Year’s resolutions years ago. My personal life reflected the idea that people fail to carry out their resolutions, and I’m not defeatist enough to repeatedly set myself up for failure.
I’m a planner, so I instead began setting annual goals for myself. The goals are not the same as resolutions because I use specific strategies to reach them and I revisit them at least monthly. In other words, my goals are strategic and measurable, with specific steps to be taken to accomplish them within a set timeframe.
I organize my goals in five categories:
- faith/life, which addresses my spiritual, physical and emotional health,
- “little” family, which is my husband and children,
- “big” family, which is my extended family and friends,
- work, and
- professional development.
I don’t always set goals in every category. It depends on what I think is realistic to accomplish in a given period of time. That timeframe isn’t always a year. I usually review and update my goals after the New Year and in June around my birthday.
I’m struggling this year with setting my goals. I’m just not sure what’s next.
You see, I’ve had a huge professional development goal—completing my dissertation and all of its components—as my focus for four years. Before that, completing my doctoral coursework was my primary goal. I am thrilled to report that I earned my PhD in December. But accomplishing the huge goal has left me wondering what’s next.
Just about anyone who studies productivity will tell you that the best way to make better use of your time is to first determine how you spend it. I began tracking my time in September, using the Hours app. I wanted to determine how I was using my time because I had a ton to accomplish toward my degree goal, but I also wanted to gear up for the New Year and refocus my priorities.
Leading up to graduation, I spent anywhere from six to 30 hours a week working on my dissertation. I’m getting back an average of 14 hours a week now that I’ve accomplished this huge goal. The important thing now is to decide the best way to spend that time. Of course, I have some ideas. I want to start reading magazines again, paint a few rooms in our house and get addicted to a television series without feeling guilty, but none of those things are goals. I don’t even consider some of them productive.
So the question is still there. What’s next? It’s a pretty big question. It’s also an exciting one.