Last Quarter: Last Ditch Efforts?

We’ve just crept into the last quarter of the year. Depending on your goals and progress in them, you’re either preparing your touchdown dance or getting comfy on the sidelines, as the New Year comes into view. Sadly, many of us are already saying, “Pass the Gatorade.”

But is it really too late to make remarkable improvements in the last 90 days of 2017? The good news is that, no, it’s not. There’s still time! The bad news is that you’ve got some work to do, and there’s no time to waste.

Reevaluate Your Goals

Before you give up on your goals, gorge yourself on all things pumpkin, and vow to do better next year, you should know that the last quarter of the year could actually be a turning point.

There are a number of experts who believe you should be working (and planning) in shorter “sprints” like 30, 60, and 90 days during your year anyway. This is because, well, things change. How many of us get to the end of the year, look back, and realize it went nothing like we thought it would? So, be flexible, and prepared to change your goals and plans.

Additionally, working in smaller increments of time provides added focus. If you have an entire year to hire a staff member, plan an event, or finally send out that volunteer email, it’s likely that you’ll fill that space with other things until forced to do so. So, consider a condensed timeline a blessing.

So, first, it’s time to reevaluate those once shiny New Year’s goals. After dusting them off, you may even realize some of them aren’t relevant anymore. Because, again, things change. And if that’s the case, you’ve just shaved your list down.

With any goals that are left, ask yourself if they need to be modified. Maybe it’s too late to plan a retreat, but it’s not too late to plan a half-day or whole-day staff outing. It’s also possible that volunteer manual needs to wait until 2018, but you can put together a list of guidelines that will work for now. And perhaps your budget is spent, so you’re not able to attend a conference in the next couple of months. But you can make plans to meet with mentors, finally get around to that stack of books on your nightstand, or purchase an online course.

The point here is to add or edit goals that will be manageable in the last quarter. And push any that can wait until next year.

Break Down the Tasks

So, you’ve got these updated plans awaiting your attention. Now what?

What may have gotten you into trouble earlier in the year is that your To Do List looked like this: plan volunteer training, schedule next month of social media, buy six months of supplies, or prepare sermon series for the year. Notice anything? They’re kinda overwhelming to look at. So, it’s no wonder they kept getting pushed until you had the magical “more time” you were looking for. How’s that going, by the way? Find it yet?

Most of us operate best when we look at days and weeks, rather than months. Sure, some longer-term planning is required now and then, but at this stage, you should break up your goals into small tasks that you can work your way through.

Instead of the above, your To Do List for the day might be more like: choose date for volunteer training, create weekly social media calendar framework, make a list of needed children’s ministry supplies, or brainstorm list of topics for sermon series. Those are all much more likely to happen, and will get you to your goals.

At this stage, you also might want to move past that sticky on your computer, or that notepad somewhere on your desk. You might even want to consider some free productivity software, like Asana, so that you can more easily list and navigate the tasks. But if you prefer the ol’ pen and paper method, go for an entire notebook. You need somewhere that you can spread out and list all of these little steps. Otherwise, you’ll either skip listing smaller tasks in favor of staying on the paper, or get overwhelmed when it looks more like Santa’s Naughty or Nice list.

Build in Accountability

Even self-starters can use some accountability. And guess what—this doesn’t refer to staff meeting. Unless your meetings are super relevant and productive. (Insert a certain amount of laughter here.)

Whether it’s a co-worker, friend, mentor, or Facebook group, it can be really helpful to have someone to check in with on your progress. And it’s even better when they have their own set of goals to work through. You both know you can’t show up without having your work done.

By reevaluating your goals, breaking them down into small tasks, and finding accountability, you are certain to accomplish some big things in the next 90 days. Get that touchdown dance ready!

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