8 Steps to Approach Each Week and Reach Your Goals
To reach our long-term goals, it is essential that we set ourselves up for success in the short run. Every week, we have a chance to start fresh, update our progress, and move forward in the life that we want to live. Below are eight tips on how you can make the most out of your week every week.
- Reflect on Last Week
- Set Daily and Weekly Goals
- Set Your Schedule
- Stay focused
- Incorporate Self-Care
- Stay Adaptable
- Track Yourself
1. Reflect on Last Week
The best way to give yourself a starting point to conquer this week is to understand where you finished last week. How far are you in that book you want to finish by the end of the month? Did you work out as much as you wanted to? Did you meet your project deadlines at work? Are you journaling consistently? Knowing where you are will set you up to make realistic plans for where you want to be in seven days. Below are some questions you can use to prompt yourself.
- What were my achievements last week?
- What did I plan to accomplish that I didn’t get done?
- What challenges did I face, and how did I handle them?
- How did I manage my personal relationships?
- How was my mood and mindset over the past seven days?
- What is something I’m grateful for this week?
- How did I take care of myself, physically, mentally, and spiritually?
2. Set Daily and Weekly Goals
Once you know where you’re starting this week, you need to determine where you’re going. Set goals for what you want to accomplish, how you want to feel, and how you want to improve your personal and professional status this week. Keep in mind, these goals should be realistic for this seven-day period. For example, if you know you have a 70-hour work week coming up, you probably don’t want to put yourself down for two hours of online professional learning each day. Instead, be strategic. Take a look at your schedule, your long-term goals, and your current position, and then decide how you can use this week to your advantage.
You can even break this down further. Instead of setting benchmarks for this week, write down goals for each day. This can either be something you want to do every day this week, or something you want to accomplish on a single day. For example, you can say, “I want to journal for 10 minutes every day before bed,” or, “I want to dedicate two hours to evaluating my personal finances on Wednesday.” We often want to think of our goals in terms of the bigger picture or the end result. However, to reach that final outcome, we need to make progress one step at a time. Examples of both weekly and daily goals are provided below.
Weekly - “I will accomplish ______ in the next seven days”
- I will find _____ new networking connections
- I will work out _____ times
- I will spend _____ hours with my family
- I will spend _____ minutes/hours meditating
- I will not spend more than $_____
- I will complete _____ for work this week
Daily - “I will accomplish _____ daily OR on a specific day”
- I will journal for _____ minutes per day
- I will wake up at _____ each day this week
- I will finish my presentation for work on Wednesday
- I will take _____ minutes/hours to reflect on Friday
This is probably the most overlooked step in attacking your week. When we get into a goal-oriented mindset, we want to accomplish EVERYTHING right away. Yet, one of the biggest obstacles to achieving everything is trying to do it all at once. You need to set priorities for each day, week, or month depending on time-sensitivity, consequences for completion/incompletion, impact on others, and your personal wellbeing. Try following these steps:
- List all of your tasks/goals for the week
- Categorize them by urgency (i.e. Does it need to be done this week or early next week?)
- Categorize them by importance (i.e. How much of an impact will this have on your progress?)
4. Set Your Schedule
Time management is one of the most important skills that people need to effectively reach their weekly goals. Once you have your goals and tasks prioritized, you need to identify 1) approximately how long each task will take you, and 2) when you have room that week to do it. Then, schedule times to complete those tasks - and stick to it. You need to respect these planned blocks the same way that you would work meetings or doctors’ appointments. By getting your most urgent and important responsibilities out of the way, you’ll free up the other windows in your schedule for personal growth, professional development, and time with loved ones.
To be successful in managing your time, find a tool that works for you. There are numerous planners, digital calendars, and applications that will help build and maintain your schedule. Test resources like Google Calendar, physical planners, Reminders, Square Appointments, Apple Calendar, and Alexa devices to figure out what works for you. That will help you not only plan for your week, but stick to the schedule (and adjust when needed).
5. Stay Focused
Today’s world is filled with distractions. With things like social media, television, and smartphones easily accessible, it’s easy to get interrupted when we are trying to accomplish something. Before you get ready to work on your budget report, exercise, read, journal, etc., eliminate as many distractions as possible from your environment. Turn your phone to silent. Put on headphones. Turn off the television. Let people in the same space as you know you’re working on something. By eliminating distractions before you start, you position yourself to succeed once you get going. Practicing this discipline consistently throughout your week will help you make the most out of your time.
Also, avoid multi-tasking. Don't do your work in front of the TV or at the dinner table. When you set aside 30-minutes to read, only read during those 30 minutes. You'll find that you're able to complete tasks more efficiently, produce higher-quality work, and learn more in the process.
6. Incorporate Self-Care
With a week full of productivity, it’s essential that you make time to take care of yourself. Find an activity that helps you slow down, clear your mind, and prepare you for the next task. This can include things like meditation, nighttime routines, drinking your morning coffee, stretching, writing, napping, or putting on a facemask. If you don’t leave time in your day to actively take care of yourself, you’re more likely to burnout, feel exhausted, and end up giving up on your tasks entirely. To consistently reach your daily and weekly goals, make sure that self-care is at the top of your to-do list.
7. Stay Adaptable
No matter how much planning and preparation you do, things will unexpectedly change. You’ll get a flat tire, your boss will keep you late after work, or an important assignment will take you longer than you expected. Then your plan for the day or even the whole week is thrown off.
That’s okay! That’s life. It’s important that we stay adaptable in the pursuit of our daily, weekly, and long-term goals. If you don't complete something you had scheduled, find something of lower importance/urgency that you had planned later for the week. Push that back a couple days in order to make time for what matters in the moment.
8. Track Yourself
Lastly, keep a written (or digital) account of your progress. This will not only help you prepare for the next week, but it’ll also allow you to track your long-term achievements. Tracking could include things like:
- Logging your running distance and pace
- Noting how many pages you read each day
- Checking off daily habits you’re incorporating into your routine
- Updating an Excel sheet with your weekly and monthly budget
- Creating a to-do list
There are endless resources for tracking your habits and accomplishments. Whatever your system is, it doesn’t have to be perfect. The important thing is that you can use your records to evaluate your progress and compare it to your daily, weekly, and long-term goals.
One Week at a Time.
Small increments of time add up to something much larger. (For example, if you spend two hours watching TV every day, you will have spent an entire month on the couch over the course of one year). We can either use our minutes, hours, or days as building blocks to become something greater, or we can let time slip by and leave us wondering what could have been. By integrating these tactics to approach your week, you will put yourself in the best possible position to succeed over the next seven days, weeks, months, years, and over the course of your lifetime.