Learn how to meditate. Volunteer more at my kids’ school. Join the chamber for more networking. Plan a monthly lunch date with my husband. Achieve my goals of training for a half marathon and eating less fast food. Drink less coffee (and maybe wine, too). Listen to a daily self-improvement podcast. Create a new family budget to allow for more vacations. Plan and book family vacations. Learn how to make zucchini noodles. Get a promotion at work. Start my own business…
Sound familiar? If you’re like many successful women, you are not lacking when it comes to ambition. You have goals and aspirations. Your track record shows that you are able to accomplish what put your mind to. Yet, you continue to struggle to find time for those “nice-to-have” goals. Things that would contribute to your health and wellbeing. Things that you’ve always wanted to try…but never seem to have the time or energy to bring to fruition.
Plan for Success
When an organization wants to ensure success for an important initiative, leaders generally assign a project manager (or several if it’s big enough). Why? Project managers are skilled at breaking down initiatives into measurable tasks; tracking dependencies, risks, and issues; keeping the team accountable to success; and influencing members of the organization when they are holding things up. You can use these same concepts to ensure success for your own important initiatives.
Five Steps to Organize Your Ambition
As a project manager for over ten years, I find these same skills to be quite handy when working as a health coach. I’m excited to help you achieve your goals in five simple steps:
Write all of your goals and ambitions down.
Put everything you aspire to do on this list. This is more or less a brain-dump. It’s an opportunity to get everything down on paper. TIP: Some of my clients have preferred to do this exercise on a computer in an excel spreadsheet so they can organize it more easily later.
Next, take a high-level look at the list. First, notice any similarities. Are there some items that can be grouped together into a category? For example, if you have “learn to meditate,” “take a regular yoga class,” “journal daily,” and “listen to a daily self-improvement podcast on your list,” you could list each of these items under one header such as “Personal Self Care.” Try to create three to five broad categories so that each task has a larger category it belongs to. Write the category name, then list each of the items that belong to the category under the header. TIP: Most frequently used categories include self care, work/career/purpose, family/spouse/romance, finances/money, health, self improvement, fun/recreation, and physical environment (i.e. home).
Once you’ve finished your categories, it’s time to consider dependencies. These are items that depend upon one another in order to be completed. For example, if you have “eat less pre-packaged and fast food” as well as “learn to make zucchini noodles” on your list, you might feel that eating less pre-packaged and fast food is dependent upon you learning new cooking techniques…such as making zucchini noodles. Consider any dependencies for the items on your list and write them down in a column to the right of the corresponding item. TIP: Common dependencies include time, money, skills, and personal permission (giving yourself the permission to make this a priority).
Assign support to complete the tasks.
Now that you’ve considered your dependencies, it’s important to think of a strategy to manage them. This might be a person reminding you of your commitment, finances to get started, or learning new skills. Create a new column labeled “support” to the right of each item, and fill in the strategy or support for managing the dependencies. TIP: Outsourcing or delegating can be a helpful support mechanism. For example, to make more time for tasks, the support you need might be someone to clean your house periodically or a personal chef to help you make healthier meals while you are still learning.
Determine a timeline.
Now it’s time to add your final column: timeline. The most important thing here is not to pick too many items to complete at one time…or you’ll be right back where you started. When I work with clients, we pick two to three overarching goals per three month period. In this instance, you would pick two to three of your larger categories to work on for the next three months. Then, determine which of the smaller tasks in each category you’ll complete in order. Assign a date to have each item completed. When you are doing this, you might notice that some of your items need to be broken down into smaller tasks to make them manageable. TIP: This step can be really helpful in calming your overwhelm. If you’d like to learn more about how designating a timeline can reduce stress, check out my blog on “creating a when to do list.”
Support is Key
Now that you’ve organized your ambition into a manageable plan and set a timeline to complete your goals, make sure to share them with someone. Telling someone about your plans will make you more likely to complete them.
Want more tips on achieving your goals?
Join my Facebook group for women where I share free tips to be healthy, feel happy, and live well. Plus – you’ll have the support of others who are striving to do the same!