By Jiji Lee

It's April Already. Time for Your First Quarter Check-In!

We’ve officially finished the first quarter of the new year.

How are you feeling about your 2021 goals so far?

Maybe you’ve been making steady progress. Or maybe you can’t believe the first quarter of the year has already flown by...and how much you have left to do. Whether you’re looking to maintain your momentum or need help getting unstuck, doing a check-in now can help you make sure you're not regretting your choices when December rolls around.

What’s the benefit of quarterly check-ins? 

The end of the quarter is an optimal time to review your goals because you have 90 days worth of work to review. In that span, you have an ample amount of time to capture any trends or behaviors that might be serving or hampering your goal.

According to writer Sarah K. Peck:

“The cycle of the quarter allows you enough time to test, build, and implement new projects and systems, and then a short period to analyze and reflect on what’s working. Also, it gives you four equal measurement cycles throughout the year to compare and track.”

It’s always a good idea to review your goals on a regular basis. For starters, you can see what’s working and what’s not. Let’s say you’ve been trying to wake up early to write, but find yourself snoozing the alarm every day instead.

You’d want to reassess this now and come up with a different strategy, rather than failing all year long. Don't ignore the issue and hope it gets better --you already have all the evidence you need that this isn't going to happen the way you envisioned it.

What can you try, knowing what you know now, that is more likely to work?

This is also a good time to review any roadblocks and challenges you’ve experienced and take any lessons learned. Maybe you've learned you are not a morning person; the last thing you want to do when you wake up is be creative.

This isn't a defect or something you need to fix about yourself. Instead, try to find a time of day that works better. Maybe you want to write before bed, or during your lunch break. Find a solution.

Most of all, during a 1st quarter check-in, you can take a moment to notice what you *have* accomplished and cheer yourself on to keep going with your goal.

Our good habits often seem insignificant once they're part of our life. But everything you're doing now that is new (or bad habits that you've eliminated) is huge progress and is getting you closer to where you want to be.

 

So break out your favorite planner or journal, and let’s get started with our first quarter check-in.

Questions to ask yourself

Here are some prompts to help you review your first quarter goals. Try to answer these questions without any judgement or criticism; simply observe. These questions are here to help you discover your strengths so that you can keep positively contributing to your goals, and remove or resolve any barriers that are in your way.

What did you accomplish this quarter? 

These could be things that are related to your goal or tangential.

For example, let’s say your goal was to walk 10,000 steps a day.

Accomplishments can include:

  • Walking outside every day for a full two weeks
  • Walking more than 10,000 steps in any day
  • Doing indoor workouts when it was impossible to walk outside due to weather or time restrictions.

It’s important to celebrate your small wins, along with all the ways you tried to meet your goal. With goal-setting, the most impressive thing isn’t always about the big achievements, but the follow through. 

What challenges did you face?

Maybe you wanted to develop a morning routine but had to juggle family responsibilities. Or maybe you wanted to work on grad school applications but got swept away by work. Or maybe you wanted to do well on a job interview but didn’t get the role. 

How did you respond to these circumstances? Is there anything you would have done differently or anything you would avoid?

Try to be compassionate with yourself during this process. As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and we all would do things differently if we could go back in time. The key is to acknowledge these challenges so that you can feel better prepared for next time.

Any lessons learned?

Did you learn something about yourself during this first quarter?

Maybe you surprised yourself by persevering in the face of uncertainty. Or maybe you realized that you need long stretches of time doing absolutely nothing so that you can feel re-energized and focused.

These are all things that can help you improve your performance. See if you can derive any lessons from accomplishments or obstacles. This way, you can continue to do activities that are working for you, or tweak the processes of things that need improvement. 

Getting back on track

If you need more momentum with your goals, here are some questions to ask yourself and tips for getting back on track:

How do you feel about your goal?

Excited? Hesitant? Scared? If you’ve been experiencing resistance towards your goal, perhaps there’s some underlying fear holding you back. It’s normal to feel fear going into your goal. No one likes the idea of failing. And it’s scary to put so much effort into something without guaranteed success. One way to work around those feelings is to journal about what’s behind the fear. 

Writing about your feelings can help you uncover what it is exactly that you fear. And once you identify what’s behind the fear, you can learn to release the thoughts that are holding you back, and push forward with a positive outlook. 

If fear isn't the problem, you might notice some resistance to your goal that could indicate it's not a good fit for where you're at in life right now. Maybe running a marathon sounds interesting, but isn't a good fit right now when your energy is driving you in a different direction, like taking on more responsibility at work or devoting time to creative projects. 

Don't be afraid to change or completely replace one of your goals. Better to get on the right track now than to waste time going in a direction that leads nowhere.

What’s working with your current goal strategy? What’s not working?

If your goal is to write for an hour a day but you find yourself skipping several days, then maybe you can write for one day a week instead.

Or maybe you set a goal to run a 5K by the end of the year, but haven’t gotten around to training. Maybe you need to shorten the time span so the goal feels more relevant and timely for you. So instead of aiming for 5K at the end of the year, modify it to "I want to run a 5K in 3 months and I've reserved a spot in a race on a specific date". 

You can also try to identify any patterns with your work or behavior. By being honest with what’s working and not working with your current processes, you can tweak your systems to make your second quarter even better. 

Questions to ask your manager

If your office conducts a performance review at the end of the year, then try to see if you can do an informal review each quarter. This way, you don’t have to wait until the end of the year to see what needs improvement, and you can use the next quarter to modify your performance.

To get the most out of your meeting, you can use our 1:1 pad to provide structure for the one-on-one meeting with your manager. You can determine the agenda beforehand, and capture key details. You can also use our Performance Feedback Pad to discuss observations of your work, wins, and a plan of action for career development.