Use the “15-Minute” Rule and Still Accomplish Your Most Important Resolutions for 2009

I was in Costco last week and was shocked to see Christmas decorations and cards already on sale. Halloween hasn’t even come and gone and I’m supposed to be thinking about Christmas?!?

It’s true, the year is coming to a close fast, but we still have 2 1/2 months left. That’s plenty of time to accomplish your biggest resolutions for 2009.

By this time of year, most people have given up on the New Year’s resolutions they set way back in January. That doesn’t have to be you, though. Even if you haven’t looked at your resolutions in a while, that doesn’t mean you should give up on them. You still have time to make significant progress toward completing your goals before the year is out—you might even surprise yourself and actually finish some of the most important ones.

You just need to follow a few simple steps.

Start by reviewing your resolutions.

There are three things to review your goals for.

First, assess how far you’ve come. Even if you haven’t been revisiting your resolutions on a regular basis, you might find that you’ve still been making forward progress.

Second, decide if your resolutions are still relevant. Have any of your goals changed based on changes within you? Maybe you planned to learn to play the accordion this year, but have since discovered that you only have a ten-minute tolerance for listening to accordion music. This would be a goal you might want to revise or scrap altogether.

Finally, determine if there’s anything new you should consider. Maybe you’ve discovered that you love writing poetry. You didn’t know this at the beginning of the year, but now maybe you want to include a poetry goal in your resolutions.

The thing to keep in mind here is that you create your resolutions to serve you and your aims. If those things change, it’s okay to change your resolutions to match.

Create a new plan to achieve something significant.

If you follow Michael Masterson’s recommendations for setting yearly goals, you not only have goals, you also have a plan for achieving them. You have a task list and a timeline to keep you steadily moving toward your goals.

Once you’ve reviewed the big goals for progress, relevance, and anything new you’d like to add, it’s time to begin adjusting your plan for getting from where you are now to where you’d like to be.

The first question to ask about each goal is whether or not it is still realistic to achieve it by the end of the year. If it is, that’s great. If not, choose the most significant milestone that you can complete and make that your new end-of-year goal.

For example, let’s say your original resolution was to be earning $10,000 a month from your freelance copywriting career before the year is through. If you’ve reached $7000 a month, getting to $10,000 by December is completely reasonable. If you’re still struggling to make $3000 a month, though, you might have more success trying to reach $5000 a month by December and then building on that accomplishment in 2010.

Take some time right now to go through each of your goals and either recommit to the original goal or revise the goal to better fit the new timeframe. Once you do that, come back and we’ll move on to the next step.

It’s always best to work toward goals one step at a time.

Once you’ve revised or recommitted to your goals, the next step is to create a new task list. This is the step-by-step process you’ll use to make sure you’re making regular progress toward your goal.

For example, let’s say you set a goal to launch a money-making website by the end of the year. You’re ambitious, so you want to launch the site, develop the basic content—say, 25 articles to start with—and make your first affiliate sale before the ball drops on January 1st.

After reviewing your progress, you discover that you’ve already outlined your basic site design and written 10 articles. That leaves 15 articles, the site launch, and one affiliate sale standing between you and your goal.

Your new task list and timeline might look like this:

  • Write two articles a week between now and the first week of December.
  • Site launched and populated with existing articles by October 31st.
  • Research and review affiliates—November 1st-14th.
  • Select three affiliates and sign up with them by November 21st.
  • Spend two hours a week adding content and optimizing the site from November 21st to the year’s end.

Notice how each task has a timeline, including a deadline. That’s very important. For each of your revised resolutions, give yourself a deadline or schedule for completing the tasks you need to succeed.

Having a fleshed out strategy for achieving each goal will make an enormous difference in your success.

Review your scheduled tasks and deadlines each day and your larger goals each week to make sure you’re sticking to your plan.

What a difference 15 minutes makes.

Once you’ve reviewed all your resolutions and revised them where necessary … once you’ve recommitted to your new end-of-year goals … once you’ve created a plan to reach these goals and set deadlines to help you make steady progress … once you’ve done all that, there’s still one more thing you can do to help you stick to your plan and achieve your goals.

I call it the 15-minute rule. Pick your four most important goals and dedicate at least 15 minutes each day to each of them. Try to do this first thing in the morning before you work on anything else.

You might think that 15 minutes isn’t enough time to accomplish anything, but I think you’ll be surprised. Fifteen minutes is often enough to finish the next action you need to take on any given task.

I’m not suggesting you should limit the time you spend working toward your most important goals to 15 minutes, but commit right now to finding at least 15 minutes each and every day to move yourself forward.

You’ll be amazed at how far you come by the end of the year.

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Published: October 22, 2009

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