Setting goals is the exciting part of being a life editor. Everything’s sparkly and new when you set an intention and say, “This is what I want, baby!”
We’re practically vibrating at the thought of how crazy amazing our lives are going to be. Yeah, just wait ‘til I lose 100 pounds, move to New York, create my business empire, or train a herd of corgis to do my bidding.
I’m an obsessive goal-setter too. Most of the time, it works out in my favor—hello, happy clients! But sometimes it doesn’t—are animal crackers part of a nutritious breakfast?
I get tripped up (and I bet you do too) when I get jazzed about an idea, but I fail to put in the planning or anticipate obstacles along the way.
A no-brainer way to actually make changes that stick is to create a system to track your edits. After all, what we track, we can change.
How will you figure out if you’re headed in the right direction if you don’t know if you’re making progress?
Here’s your life editing homework: Try the following steps to accurately measure what you want to change.
Get a Tracker
Find something to keep track of what you’re measuring. It could be a simple notebook or a complex app or program. You choose whatever format you’ll be most likely to stick with.
For me, I use my Master Action Plan for most things I’m tracking in my life. It’s clean, simple, and I’m better able to keep the promises I make to myself when I write them down in my own handwriting.
Take Before Measurements
OK, so it may be a little embarrassing to take before measurements, but don’t skip this step! In a few weeks or months, you’ll want to be able to look back at your progress and feel good about how far you’ve come.
For example, these baseline measurements might be your weight and caloric intake if you’re trying to lose weight, the amount of money in your savings account if you’re saving for a house, or the number of subscribers on your newsletter list if you want to grow your business following.
Choose an Outcome
Once you know where you’re at now, then you can choose where you want to be as an outcome. Sometimes your outcome might be a single goal that you hit once (run a marathon) or a goal you want to consistently keep up (run a marathon every 3 months forever).
I recommend choosing an outcome that stretches you slightly out of your comfort zone. Imagine that you’re 3 steps away from your comfort zone, not that your comfort zone is 3 miles away. Baby steps, people.
Choose a Timeline
Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Sometimes you’ll overestimate the time it will take you to reach a goal, and sometimes you’ll underestimate.
Consider if you’ve ever tried to accomplish this thing before. How long did it take you to reach a benchmark such as lose 5 pounds or sell 10 copies of your book?
If you have no idea how much time to give yourself, start with 3 months and see how close or far away you get to your ultimate goal. You can always look back at your tracker and re-evaluate your goal.
In my experience, 3 months (or 90 days) is the perfect amount of time to really make some noticeable progress on any goal. That’s why I work with my clients for a minimum of 3 months.
Track Weekly for Best Results
Tracking your progress can become an obsession if you let it! To avoid driving yourself nuts, I suggest checking your measurements only once per week. I know that might seem like a long time to wait, but it’ll benefit you in the end.
Looking at your stats once a week will help you stay sane and not go nuts over every little fluctuation. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s the same with tracking newsletter subscribers—some people will join while others unsubscribe.
Give yourself a week to see the true trajectory.
Adjust Your Goals and Actions as Needed
Like I mentioned above, you’ll want to look over your measurements and determine if you need to edit your goals or try something new. Obviously, you’ll want to switch up your approach if you’re not making any progress.
Let’s say you’re trying to find a new job, but you’re not getting any interviews by submitting 1 job application per day. You could try applying to 3 jobs per day, change your search criteria, update your resume and send a new version, check in with the hiring managers for jobs you’ve applied for, etc.
It’s up to you to get a feel for what the numbers are telling you and then take a new course of action.
My Favorite Trackers
As a self-proclaimed Type A personality, I adore trackers! Here are a few of my faves:
- 2015 Edited Year Planner (of course!)
- Happiness Project Resolutions Chart
- UP 24 by Jawbone
- Passion Planner
What are you tracking?
In the comments below, share how you measure your progress on a goal.
This post focuses on Step 3 of the Life Editing Process, Add Good Habits and Routines. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.