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Why visual reminders are the keys to success

5 simple ways to keep your goals front and center so that you actually achieve them

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It’s March. Do you remember what your new year’s resolutions were?

Studies show that approx. 80% of resolutions have been abandoned by now.

But what about you? Are you still thinking about yours? Working towards them? Maybe this article is the first them you’re thinking about them in a few weeks. (And no shame if that’s where you are; remember, that’s where 80% of people are.)

If your resolutions have slipped from your focus, and you’d like to double down instead, one thing I’ll ask is “Have you written down your resolutions?”

Now, in full disclosure, I’m not a resolutions person. I don’t think I’ve ever made a resolution in my life, at least not around the new year. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t have goals. I just like to use a shorter timeframe. I’m a quarterly goals kind of person, as it’s a timeframe that suits me better than a whole year, which just feels like a really long time.

So, if you want to recommit to your goals, or your resolutions, what can you do?:

Make those goals visual.

There’s no end to the research showing that writing down your goals leads to much higher levels of goal achievement. But you want to take it a step farther. You want to surround yourself with visual reminders of your goals, so that you can’t ignore them. (‘Cause humans are pretty good at ignoring things.) You want to be confronted with your goals regularly.

Writing your goals down, and then being visually reminded of them everywhere, is the best way to actually make them happen. We need to be confronted daily with the things we’re trying to do that are hard. Otherwise, it’s just too easy to let them slip away.

Here’s how:

USE YOUR CALENDAR

Create a year long (or quarterly) all day appointment and enter your goals as the name of the event. This way, your goals appear across the top of your calendar., each time you look at it. The average person is looking at their calendar at least several times a day, so you’ll be confronted with your goals a lot.

And this forces reflection. Are the meetings on your calendar in support of your goals? If you’re time blocking on your calendar, do your time blocks align with your goals?

Don’t forget to set the appointment to “free” so it’s not blocking your calendar from other appointments.

There’s another way you can use your calendar to support your goals: time block the things you must do to reach your goals. So, if your goal is to exercise more, then block out the time you’re going to commit to exercise. (Trust me, you won’t just “find” the time.). And better yet, get really specific. Don’t enter “exercise”, enter “Run at Stowe Lake” or “30 minute MadFit video”, etc.

USE YOUR TASK SYSTEM

You can use your task system in a couple of effective ways for this purpose:

  1. At a high level, you can enter your goals. Depending on the system, there might be a section that you create for this, or you might just create a recurring task with your goals in it so it shows up every day.
  2. You can also create specific tasks in your task system that will support your high level goals. Breaking down our goals into the steps that we need to take is crucial. So take the time to create tasks from your goals. Work backwards from the end date. Or add recurring tasks for the actions you need to take daily.

USE YOUR DESKTOP BACKGROUND/WALLPAPER

Your desktop background on your computer is a blank slate. (If it’s cluttered with icons, the first step might be a little digital decluttering. Take just 30 seconds to put those icons in a “to file” folder, or follow the process here.)

Then, head on over to Canva and choose one of their beautiful templates. Write your goals in the middle, download the file and set it as you wallpaper and in less than 5 minutes you can be looking at your goals every time you close or move windows on your computer.

Personally, I use my desktop background for my “word of the year”, the word that will be my north star for the decisions I make this year.

USE YOUR PHONE LOCK SCREEN OR WALLPAPER

Want to be reminded of your goals every time you pick up your phone? Create a custom image listing your goals for your lock screen or wallpaper on your phone. Canva has you covered with templates for this as well. Since most people check their phone 96 (!) times a day, that’s 96 times a day to be reminded of your goals.

GO LOW TECH

  • Put a post-it on your bathroom mirror, and read it every day when you’re brushing your teeth.
    • In the morning, ask yourself what you’ll do that day to make progress on your goals.
    • In the evening, get honest with yourself about whether you did what you said you’d do.
  • Draw your goals, or write them out with your best penmanship, and frame them. Hang the frame across from where you work, so every time you look up, you’re looking at your goals.
  • Use a whiteboard. In your kitchen, or near your desk, put those goals front and center.

AND DON’T FORGET THAT IT’S OK TO PIVOT.

What if you look at those goals every day, and they no longer make sense? What you chose a few months ago isn’t what you want to commit to going forward?

Well, that’s OK, too.

First, you can congratulate yourself on having the awareness and courage to make a change. Then you can redefine your goals, and rewrite them.

One reason that I really like quarterly goals is because the timeline is such that I have the opportunity to define my goals more frequently. But even within that timeframe, I’ve already pivoted on one of my Q1 goals.

(What was it, you say? It was my learning goal. I choose a learning goal each quarter, and for some reason back in December I decided I wanted to get better at financial accounting. Halfway through Q1 I decided that since I already have an accountant, my time could be better spent if I were to pivot my learning goal to a deeper understanding of adult learning so that I can continue to improve my courses and curriculum for my coaching programs)

Pivoting isn’t failing. It’s deciding that there’s a better use of your time and not giving into the fallacy of sunk costs.

So, what can you do right now?:

  1. Take a look at your goals and resolutions. Do they still make sense? Do they still light you up? Or do you need to pivot?
  2. Then pick a strategy (or 2, or 3) from above, and get those goals front and center so you can recommit and start making progress,

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