Marsha Egan explains how to turn your intentions into resolutions

It is that time of year when many of us set goals and make resolutions for the coming year.

For some of us, those resolutions are mere intentions.  The difference between an intention and a resolution is that intentions are an act of thinking, whereas resolutions are an act of doing.

So, as you set out to make this year your most successful year yet, resolve to act and turn your intentions into resolutions.

Remember that an established direction, outlined with purposeful thought, followed by action will help you live a proactive rather than reactive life.

Here are a few tips:

Have a personal mission statement

Your personal mission statement defines who you are, what you’re all about, and what your mission in this life is. Why are you here?  When you are 90 years old and looking back on your life, what is it that you might wish you could have accomplished?

Have long-term goals

Future goals give you a sense of purpose. You achieve more by planning your time around your long-term goals. With them in mind, you can start logically preparing, instead of just letting things just “happen”. Goals become just wishful thinking or “intentions” unless you further define them as objectives with specific measurements that require action.

Set weekly priorities

To create effective work and life objectives, you need to know where you are expected to invest your time, energy, talents, and company and personal resources. Standing back and planning your activities and results on a weekly basis will allow you to drill down to schedule your days and prioritize your tasks in a meaningful way.

Create and prioritize your “to-do” list each day

Use your long term and weekly goals as a guide.  Check it against your long-term goals to ensure that your daily activities will result in you taking action that helps you reach your weekly, monthly, and long-term goals.

Shut down distractions

In the information age, distractions abound.  Whether it is the ding of an incoming e-mail, the bling of a text message, or your desire to check your eBay listing, we all could spend an entire day being distracted. Successful people manage their distractions rather than succumb to them.  And it is not only technology that can distract you, but people can too. Beware of others distracting you as they pursue their goals, inadvertently adding things to your “to-do” list rather than theirs.

Assess your time

Set realistic expectations about how much time each of your tasks will take. Many times, people often put 20+ hours of actions on a “to-do” list for an eight-hour day. This leads to disappointment and frustration.  I like to suggest that people estimate the amount of time for each task, and then double that amount as they plan.  In other words, if you think it will take you five minutes to make a telephone call, estimate ten minutes. Effective daily planning lets you realize more of your expectations and reduce your personal stress levels.

Conduct regular reviews of your plans

Reviewing your objectives is one of the most important aspects of time and priority management. Because this action falls under the category of “important but not urgent” activities, it can easily fall by the wayside.  Scheduling regular meetings with yourself – weekly is best – to review your long-term goals and their interim action steps can go a long way toward keeping you focused and achieving more.

Successful people set a priority on planning their life goals. Starting with your personal mission statement in front of you as a guide, create personal and professional long-term goals, break them down into short-term objectives, create monthly plans that drill down to weekly objectives and then daily activities. This will give you direction and focus.

Bottom line: you achieve your long-term objectives by doing today what will lead to your tomorrow’s results. Turn your intentions in to resolutions that work for you.

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Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC is CEO of The Egan Group, a Nantucket, Massachusetts-based workplace productivity coaching firm. She is author of Inbox Detox and the Habit of E-mail Excellence. She can be reached at MarshaEgan.com, where you can also read her ... (Read More)

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