Thursday, October 3, 2013

How to Protect Yourself From Spinning Your Wheels For Another Year

As summer was winding down at the end of August, I felt strong.  Strong to hit the ground running and really push my goals forward once the kids were back in school.  I spent a lot of time this summer learning about how people make things happen and the best practices for productivity.

My goals had a renewed sense of importance to me, and this school year was going to be my time.  Bring it on!

Then the backpacks came home filled with papers needing my attention.   On the eve of school starting, my e-mail inbox began to fill up with reminders and requests for my time and attention … and baking skills.  I could already feel the pull and school hadn’t even started.  Then came an e-mail from a mom, asking when I could come into the school cafeteria to sort the recycling trash like I did every month last year.  ”So sorry, but I’m not going to be able to do Terracycle this year,” I replied.  I cringed a little when I hit “send,” but what a relief to have one less thing on my plate.

In the past, I would have justified to myself why I needed to do this or that at my kids’ schools, but I’m happy to say that I’m now in a new place.  This year I’m learning to say no.  I’m not spreading myself too thin.  I’m not living my life according to the expectations of others.   I’m not buying into the guilt.

This year I’m guarding my dreams like a mama bear guards her cub.  Grrrr … :) 

Whether you’re a parent or not, we all have distractions that creep into our lives, wanting our attention and time.  If we want to achieve big goals, we have to make big changes.  We have to find what hasn’t worked in the past and fix it.

Here are some things I suggest keeping in mind to stay on track and make real progress:

1.  Reprioritize.  Learn to put yourself and your goals first.  This is something you don’t have to announce to friends and family; it can be your own little secret.  You have to believe that giving up short-term responsibilities and time drainers to pursue long-terms goals is in the best interests of you and your family.  I liken this to putting the oxygen mask on my face first before assisting my child.  What you give up now will pay off in the future.  But keep in mind that putting yourself first goes hand in hand with learning to say no.

2.  Don’t Share Your Vision …  Yet.  Some people believe that if you tell people your dreams/goals, you’ll feel more accountable to deliver.  I disagree.  You can’t possibly communicate your vision to another person about something that hasn’t been created and expect them to have the same level of understanding and/or excitement that you do.  Holding your ideas close while you get things off the ground will help prevent you from never starting as a result of feeling discouraged by a lukewarm reaction from someone who can’t possibly have the same level of excitement about your idea.   Put your head down, get to work and once things start to take shape, begin to share.

3.  Give Yourself Permission To Guard Your Time.  Don’t you dare feel guilty for not signing up to be the President of the PTG, class mom, team mom or head coach.  You’ve probably done more than your share already.  You’ve got to carve out new blocks of time and that means managing your time differently and lightening your load.  If you are a parent, pick one activity that is most important to you and give it your all, knowing you’ve got other important work to pursue this year.

4.  Forget What Others Think.  The way you feel about yourself is more important.  Think about how you’d feel at the end of another school year, finding yourself in the same place.  Make it your goal to be proud of YOURSELF this year.

5. Acknowledge You’re Different and That’s OK.  Maybe you’ve spent time trying to unlock the mystery of your life’s work, and now’s the time to execute.  You don’t have to fill you time being on committees to feel important.  You have a mission and right now maybe you’re a committee of one.  It’s ok for you to walk your own path right now.

6.  Manage Your Energy Around What’s Important.  In order to make optimal progress, pay attention to how you spend your reserves of physical and mental energy.  If you have the flexibility, be careful not to deplete your energy supplies before you do your most important work each day.  Also, be realistic about what you can accomplish, depending on your energy levels during different times of the day.

7.  End Your Work With a Starting Point For Tomorrow.  Before your close up your work for the day, decide where you will begin when you resume tomorrow.  This practice will help ensure your work has continued momentum as you begin each day.

8.  Schedule Time & Set Goals.  Now that you’ve lightened your responsibilities and reclaimed some time to work on your important work, make sure you set a firm, unbreakable appointment with yourself.  Also, set short -term and long-term goals so you can track your progress every day.

Have I missed anything?  If there are any other suggestions you can add that have worked for you, feel free to leave a comment below.

This post was originally published on Invisible Sun's blog page.  You can find the original post here.

About this Guest Poster:

Ellie lives at the Jersey Shore and is a busy mom of three. She loves inspiring others to pursue work that is important to them.

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