Plan your quarter and the week ahead.

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Zealous. Psyched up. Determined to do the extraordinary. It’s a fresh start and we are ready to tap into the potential that comes with a new year. We set goals for it but before you know it, we’re halfway through the year and there’s nothing to show for it. Why is this the case though? There is a couple of factors that can lead to this but I will share about one in particular herein: Planning.

A goal without a plan is only a dream. — Brain Tracy

Planning is a fundamental cognitive skill that forms part of our executive functions. It keeps us in line with our goals and focused on the bigger picture.
It’s funny how for instance we can have quarterly goals at the organizations we subscribe to and how we plan the execution of our responsibilities with reference to these goals and yet may have none for ourselves; it is something we can replicate in our individual lives. It can be toward improving health, building a relationship, or even learning a new skill for example. The most relatable perhaps is what we envision for our careers and how we plan on getting there. A Career Development Plan(CDP).

A CDP is a carefully thought through plan we set for our career growth. It is meant to help us reach our short, mid, and long term goals. Even though we may all have varying perceptions of time, the ideal understanding is that short term is a period with in 3 months, mid term 6 to 12 months, and long term 5 or more years. When creating a CDP, you basically group your career goals by the amount of time it takes to achieve them. It is best to have these goals not contradict themselves. The smaller duration goals should actually be a contribution to the larger duration goals.

A quarter represents 3 months in the year thus your quarterly goals are the same as the short term goals in the CDP.
For each of the goals in your CDP, detail how you will meet the goal, what resources you will need, a time breakdown, and the definition of success. You do this planning at the end of every quarter and evaluate yourself based off the success definition you set 3 months back.

With a clearer vision of what you want and how much you need to invest to get there, you then move onto planning the week.

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The week’s plan is perhaps the most important of all the plans as it is where we plan the miniature executions towards the grand goal. It is then that we determine how many steps we shall be making towards our quarterly goals while also taking into consideration potential blockers that are outside our control. It is important to plan the week even before it starts; I do mine on Saturday afternoons for instance. While at it, you need to accord the process enough attention and time to fully visualize how each day can be spent to reach your end goal. You should however desist from the temptation of creating a fancy timed To-do list in the guise of a plan.

There seems to be implicit cultural recognition of the week as a single, complete unit of time. Business, education, and many other facets of society operate within the framework of the week, designating certain days for focused investment and others for relaxation or inspiration. — Stephen Covey

As for me, I have just finished planning my quarter and next week.
For the first time in 6 months, I feel a great sense of comfort and relief having my tasks clearly laid out instead of them jumbled up in my head as to-dos. I explicitly defined for myself the what, when, and how for each of the tasks. I also specified how long each of the tasks would take. This perhaps explains why I already feel like next week is going to be a success; I have already been there through my mind’s eye and I am mentally prepared for it.

Previously, I had fallen into the vice merely creating a fancy to do list and had no ownership or control over my own time, on my own calendar. I was being irresponsible and reactive rather with my life. The price for not being proactive was the feeling of helplessness and I didn’t enjoy paying that at all.

Final thoughts

One trick to achieving your goals is committing to your plan and holding yourself accountable. However, it is also possible that you plan and things don’t go as planned because of factors out of your control. It is okay if this happens. Sometimes things just don’t work out but it is better to plan and be intentional with your goals and life than sitting back and leaving it all to fate.

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