This morning I completed a short set of burpees. I hate burpees. I really do. They are always hard. Burpees are much worse than push-ups.
I am decent at doing push-ups. Not so much when it comes to burpees.
Burpees remain a difficult exercise for me. They are for most people.
Doing burpees does not make me feel better
I have never completed a set of burpees and felt better afterward. I always feel tired, usually exhausted. Sometimes I wonder if I am going to pass out. I am huffing and puffing with my heart pounding.
Despite this pain — I am trying to do burpees every day this month.
Why in the world do I put myself through this daily agony?
Simple answer — I set a goal of doing 50 burpees every other day. This goal will help me get back into shape this year.
Making your goals happen is hard
Setting my goals was easy. Making them happen is much more difficult.
It is a struggle this year. It is every year. The good news is that my goals must be appropriate.
Michael Hyatt (one of my virtual mentors) likes to say that goals need to put you in the discomfort zone. That is where the most personal growth happens.
I sure hope he is right. My own experience tells me that he is.
Discomfort is a catalyst for growth. It makes us yearn for something more. It forces us to change, stretch, and adapt.
It is easy to give up on your goals
It is only February. I am already struggling with my annual goals. If you are like me, you are behind schedule on your goals too.
It is easy to get discouraged quickly and give up. Many people do.
I refuse to quit this early. Instead, I will keep plugging along.
Last week I described a short series of experiments I started this month to jump start my progress.
This week I am sharing an innovative way to create consistent personal accountability.
Project management reviews (PMR) at work
As both of you know, I am a consultant. A lot of the work I am involved in is project based. That means clients pay us to complete specific projects.
They tell us what they need. We do the work, and then get paid.
Some of them are short. Others are long and take years to complete.
It is a normal practice for us to conduct project management reviews, or PMRs, with our clients. These reviews allow them to track our progress along the way until we are finished.
PMRs are a crucial way for our clients to hold us accountable for delivering what we promised.
I conduct a personal PMR every month
In order to hold myself accountable, I conduct a personal PMR every month.
For personal PMRs, the project is my life. I pull out my personal goals slide deck and review my current status.
I know it sounds geeky, but it actually works.
What I am going to do in the rest of this blog is to describe how I conduct a personal PMR. It is not a hard habit to build.
1. Review my annual goals list
The first thing I do during my personal PMR is to review my annual goals.
I ask myself — are they still the right ones?
Are they aligned with the theme I chose for the year?
These questions may seem silly, but I think they are worth asking.
Things change during the year. Some goals that seemed important at the beginning of the year, may not be relevant anymore.
Eliminate those ones. Don’t be afraid to get rid of a goal.
Fewer goals by the end may be better
It is okay to end the year with fewer goals than you started with. Don’t waste your time working on goals that do not make sense to you anymore.
I would rather achieve a few really important goals than making limited progress on a long laundry list of irrelevant goals.
It is rare that I end the year with the exact same list of goals that I wrote back in January. You may want to prioritize your goals to only the essential ones.
The more focus you give the better your results will likely be. I highly recommend the book Essentialism that explains why focus helps.
Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.
Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
2. Measure my progress to date
Next, I measure my progress to date against each goal. This step takes some time. It is usually the most painful part, especially if I am making little or no progress against a goal.
One of the reasons I recommend conducting personal PMRs is that they provide you with clarity regarding your progress.
For example, I usually try to run a race every month. Some years I achieve that goal. Other years, not so much.
Consistency provides proper accountability
Years ago, I struggled with tracking my progress against my goals. I did not conduct personal PMRs.
Instead, I would pull out my list of annual goals every now and then. This approach did not work.
One year I wanted to lose 10 pounds. I made no progress during the year and then tried to lose all the weight in December. Not the best time of the year for losing weight.
It was a total failure. I was miserable and did not lose any weight.
Keep it personal — no need to share with others
The good news is that it is a personal PMR.
In other words — it is just you measuring your own progress.
There is no need to publish the results or share it with others unless you find that kind of accountability useful.
The tougher part is being completely honest about your progress.
Be hard on yourself
Don’t fudge, and definitely, do not lie to yourself.
For example, I usually have an annual goal of reading more books than the year before. It is not uncommon for me to miss this goal.
In general, I try to read one book a month. Many months I do not get through an entire book so I just put none on the slide I use to track my progress.
I prefer to be hard rather than cheat myself into thinking I achieved a goal.
I have never achieved every single annual goal
Remember — this technique is designed to create consistent personal accountability. It is not a mechanism to ensure that you achieve all your goals.
I don’t have a secret formula to make that happen. If you do — please send it to me. I need it.
3. Identify adjustments that are needed
After you are done tracking your progress -it is time to identify adjustments that you need to make.
You may want to adjust your timeline. For example, you may want to delay the deadline for your goal if you are behind schedule and cannot reasonably make up ground.
Or, perhaps you are making better progress than expected and you want to raise the bar for your goal. Yes — this does happen at times, although it is a rare occurrence for me.
A word of caution about deadlines
Avoid making all your goals due on the same day.
They should be spread out across the year instead.
If you are not careful, you will make little progress against them and delay all of them to the end of the year.
Don’t be shocked if you achieve lackluster results with this approach.
Once again, fewer goals is likely a better option if you fall into this trap.
4. Record when you reach the finish line
Once you have accomplished a goal then mark it as complete.
I simply put a check mark next to the goal so that I know it is done.
By the end of the year, I usually have some check marks for goals that I achieved and X’s next to goals that I did not complete.
Get help if I need it
On more than one occasion I was not making suitable progress against a goal because I did not know what I was doing.
I needed to conduct research, take a training class, or talk with an expert.
I recommend you do the same, especially when you set an aggressive goal and do not make any tangible progress months into the year.
You may need help coming up with a workable plan.
It is amazing all the expertise you can tap into nowadays. Take full advantage of these resources. Don’t go it alone.
5. Establish my plan for next month
The last thing I do during my monthly personal PMR is to establish my plan for the next month.
If I have achieved a goal I will move onto the next one. If adjustments are needed I will integrate those changes into my plan.
If I decided to eliminate a goal I will stop working on it. One of the reasons I use PowerPoint slides for my annual goals is that they are easy to edit.
Don’t stop — keep going until the end
I will end on a positive note. Conducting a personal PMR is some tough self-love.
After all, who wants to review their goals every month. I do.
Mainly because I find this accountability useful. It helps me track progress, make adjustments, and create plans for success.
It is easy to get discouraged. We all do.
Don’t stop — keep going to the end. After all, you will never achieve any of your goals if you decide to quit.
Stick with it. You may be amazed at the progress you make one step at a time. RLTW!
Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.
Six stanza of the US Army Ranger Creed
I write a blog for my sons called Doug Keating Letter to Sons. I am sharing content from my blog here. I hope you enjoyed it. All feedback is welcome. Thanks for reading it.