What do you do when life starts getting super crazy?
Disruptive things like dealing with a health issue, moving house, or doing a ton of biz dev for your consulting business can be super stressful and upsetting to the daily routine… and I’m in the middle of all of them.
So when life gets nuts, do you put all your daily rituals to the side and just buckle down and start putting out fires?
Most people are like, yeah, duh. Lean in to the crazy. Go wild.
I want to show you how I am resisting that impulse and instead buckling down even tighter on my daily rituals. We’ll take a closer look at the daily goal tracking process I use, with some real examples, and I’ll explain how I get through the mess without going crazy.
Where goal tracking starts
I told you last week how I recently set a few goals like “I have a strong and healthy body” and “I have a secure place to live for at least a year”
Those are nice goals, but they’re not really trackable. I’m going to be chasing having a strong and healthy body for the rest of my life.
Am I healthy yet? How about now? I felt pretty healthy yesterday, but today I’ve got a headache, so I guess I’m not done yet.
The “secure place to live” goal is a bit more solid, but it’s like a box I can check, either yes or no. And so much of that is out of my control.
So how can I track my progress towards these goals? How can I make sure I’m moving forward each day and not just getting wrapped up in the craziness of life?
By defining the actions each goal requires of me — and tracking those.
Effective goal tracking starts with clearly defined actions.
When you set a goal, don’t stop there. Take a few minutes and brainstorm some actions that will get you towards that goal.
These actions can be quick one-time things you can do right now, or they can be ongoing things that you do every day for months.
Define and track daily actions with a habit tracker
For example, with my goal to have a strong healthy body, I’ve identified clear problems to solve and actions to take every day.
One of the problems I have to solve is an ongoing recurring mono infection. I’m tired all the time because my immune system is constantly being flared up by this virus in my system. There is data I can track — my antibody count, and clear actions I can take to get that antibody count down.
The actions I need to take to get that antibody count down include taking hefty doses of monolaurin and vitamin C and getting lots of sleep. I can’t necessarily control how long it takes for my antibody count to go down, but I can control whether I’m taking my vitamins every day and what time I go to bed each night.
So those are the actions I track. With bullet journaling, there are tons of examples of habit trackers people use (like this one) to track daily actions like these.
Track the actions you can control
In addition to daily actions, I also want to talk about one-time actions. For my “secure place to live” goal, I need to do the following actions — reach out to people advertising for a roommate, make an appointment to view the room, go view the room and meet the person, etc.
I can set goals like “reach out to 3 new people a day” or something like that, as that’s the part I can control. Whether they agree to meet with me is on them, but the more people I reach out to, the better my chances are for getting a meeting.
Since this is a fast-moving goal, I tend to keep track on a post-it note that I keep moving around in my journal so it’s always in front of me. I update the post-it as things change — new places come up, I hear back from others that their landlord won’t allow more pets, etc. So I always have an updated post-it with the next actions I need to take, or what I’m waiting on.
Sarah, isn’t that kind of repetitive? Always rewriting the goal on a new Post-it?
It is… but I like the repetitiveness of it. It helps reinforce the goal that I’m working on and keeps it top of mind for me.
All of this is about keeping my goals top of mind and making sure I’m taking action on them — not just writing my goals down somewhere and forgetting about them for three months.
Another thing I do every day is take some time to review my day and plan the next one.
After dinner, I sit down with my journal and celebrate any progress towards my goals. If I viewed a place, I write it down as a thing to celebrate. If I took all my vitamins, I get to color off a section of my habit tracker, and coloring makes me happy.
Then I turn the page and write out the next day’s schedule. I add in any one-time tasks to moments during the day when I have free time, scheduling them in so I’m more likely to do them.
Here’s a look at my schedule for the day a few days ago. This is me planning for Friday on Thursday evening.
I don’t always schedule every single half hour of the day like this, but when life is extra crazy, I buckle down extra hard.
On less crazy weeks, I might just write down a few to-dos for tomorrow, but when I’m juggling a lot of extra hard tasks, I need to dedicate more energy to my plan.
Notice I’ve even scheduled in time to do this tracking and planning (it’s that spot called “Cornerstone” — a fun title for this ritual I picked up from the delightfully weird Carolyn Elliott.)
Putting it all together
Since my life feels totally crazy right now, I’ve been working extra hard to get everything written down and accountable.
My goals have clearly defined one-time and/or daily actions I know I need to take in order to make progress.
I have a daily ritual for holding myself accountable to those actions, and celebrating my progress.
And I make sure I carve out time every day for that daily ritual, no matter what.
If this process looks like it might help you get control over the wildness of your life, too, get yourself a notebook and start breaking down your goals into clear actions.
If you need help with this process, I do offer coaching. You can hire me to keep you accountable to your goals, brainstorm techniques and rituals you can add to your day and week, and troubleshoot the unique things that make this extra tough in your life.
Read about the coaching package I offer and, if it looks interesting to you, schedule some time for us to have a strategy session together and see if coaching is right for you.
We can design a custom productivity plan you can stick with to keep yourself calm and in control, even when life is throwing everything it’s got at you.
You can take your power back.