By Kate Matsudaira

It’s August already. Make the rest of this year count.


What is the one thing that will help you accomplish more this year? Before I suggest strategies to help you make the most of 2016, let’s recap how far we’ve come. Whether your employer requires a mid-year review or not, summer time is the perfect time to reflect on how you are doing in all […]

What is the one thing that will help you accomplish more this year?

Before I suggest strategies to help you make the most of 2016, let’s recap how far we’ve come.

Whether your employer requires a mid-year review or not, summer time is the perfect time to reflect on how you are doing in all the important areas of your life: work, family, health, finances, spirit, and knowledge.

Since the year is (more than) half over, you should be more than halfway with your goals. You should have saved half the amount you set out to set aside in your savings account. You should have lost half the weight you are trying to lose. And you should be half way finished with that big project.

Take a look at your big goals for 2016.What have you accomplished so far this year?

What needs to be reevaluated or adjusted?

There is no time like the present to stop and reflect about where you are and to celebrate what you’ve crossed off your list so far. Take the time to understand what methods, tools and mentality you’ve applied to get here, and leverage those to keep on climbing. Then, once you do your own assessment of your progress, read the rest of this article for some tips to make 2016 even better.

Below is a guide to get you started on your mid-year review. So grab a cup of coffee (or tea), find a comfy chair, and let’s get started!

  1. When we fail to achieve our goals, it often has to do with how we have allocated our time. What are your top 6 values or priorities (think about the different parts of your life and identify the priorities in each area – work, family, health, finances, spirit, and knowledge)?
  2. What is your vision for each of those 6 things?
  3. What are you doing in your life that doesn’t support these 6 items? A helpful way to see this is to think about the last 6 months and draw a pie chart – how did your time break down? Are the areas or parts of your life that aren’t aligning with your top 6?
  4. What unexpected changes have thrown you off course from your goals, and how did you conquer them and get back on track?
  5. Sometimes you have to learn to say “NO” so you can say “YES”. Were there times in the last 6 months where you took on work or items that didn’t move you toward your top 6?
  6. Who is someone you would like to emulate and learn from? What do you hope to learn from them and how can you do that in the remainder of the year?
  7. Are there things you could be doing to build better habits? Write down a plan and schedule the time to create one new habit in the rest of the year.
  8. We all think about the things we will do “someday”. Someday I will write that book. Someday I will climb a mountain. Well, why not today? Pick 3 things you have been procrastinating on and write down one thing you can do this week to get started on them.

And if you would like a handy version of these questions in a PDF…
click here to download your copy

Now that you have spent some time going through what you want to accomplish and how to take steps toward that end,  I want to share some of my favorite tips and tricks to help you make the most of the rest of the year (spoiler:  make sure you read number 4–it’s the one thing I think will help you the most).

  1. Dealing with setbacks

    Have you had a rough year? Maybe you either didn’t set goals, or you had some major obstacles that prevented you from seeing things through? Let me give you an example.

    If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that I came across a big hurdle recently, and that was changing our name to Ink & Volt. This unexpected change put quite a few things on hold (like this regular newsletter – that I am resolved to write more regularly throughout the rest of 2016).

    But sometimes what feels like a huge obstacle is really just a set of small steps you need to tackle one at a time. When I first found out about changing the name, I wanted to just give up. rom the shipping headaches in January to the trademark issues in spring, it was just a lot of bumps and bruises. Great things never come easy, right?

    But the most important thing to remember when issues arise is to be tenacious and to not give up. Get your head in the right place and then make a plan to take positive, purposeful steps toward your future.

    Despite all my setbacks this year, I wasn’t going to give up easily. I love creating these notebooks and planners, and I love helping you become more successful. Plus, I have big things planned the rest of this year – we are creating the 2017 Volt Planner (the new name for what was the Spark Planner – which can you get as a PDF for free by just signing up for our mailing list below) and a Kickstarter to help promote the launch. We have also been adding more and more unique and exciting products to the new Ink & Volt website–products that have been handpicked with you in mind. I am really excited to see how this new ecommerce model works for our business in the months ahead.

    If you can put yourself in the right mindset then it is much easier to deal with past problems and make forward progress.

  2. Did you set the right goals?

    Sometimes we set goals at the start of the year (or our employer sets them for us) but then plans change after a few months. Or, we set some goals, and at this midway point we have already achieved all of them (and need to aim higher). Now is the perfect time to really evaluate what you have done and what you want to do.

    When it comes to goals, it is important to make sure they are attainable (and, dare I say, measurable). One of the challenges people have with objectives like “be a better writer,” “eat healthy” or “spend more time with my friends” is that they are hard to quantify. For every goal you set, you need to be able to answer the question:

    How will I know if I achieved that goal?

    For every goal you set, try to make your success criteria as clear as possible. For example, if you told me you wanted to be a better writer, I would suggest setting goals like:

    • Read On Writing Well (a great book I highly recommend, btw)
    • Write 2 blog posts or articles each month for 6 months

Do you see what makes those goals much more powerful? There is a clear and definitive way to know if you’ve achieved them, and they are so actionable that you can start working on them today. You can easily budget the time to improve your writing skills in 20-30 minutes per day (or even just 1 hour per week).

The real key here is taking your priorities and the things you want to achieve and turning them into clear, actionable goals that you can make progress toward each week.

  • Create accountability

    One of the best ways to keep yourself on track is to setup a system that holds you accountable. When you know your actions are being monitored, you are more likely to stay the course when things get tough.

    • Enlist a friend.
      By sharing your journey with someone else, your friend can help motivate you when you have setbacks and can help celebrate your accomplishments when you’ve succeeded. Setup regular checkins with your accountability partner and be honest in your struggles. They can help you stay on track and keep your eye on prize.
    • Get a calendar and mark your progress (this can also be done with an app or in your Volt Planner).
      I use the calendar view of my planner to mark off my progress each day. It keeps me on track because I can’t stand to see a day missing. This is Jerry Seinfeld’s big secret to reaching your goals<: “don’t break the chain”. Establish a system where you will track your own progress and then stick with it.
    • Join a group.
      Weight Watchers is a perfect example of how group accountability can be effective for driving change. This kind of community shares your goals and inspires you to reach them, while understanding your challenges and offering strategies for how to overcome.Group membership can drive both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. That is, you want to achieve your goal to be a better, more fulfilled person, but you also want the praise or points you get from your group. Luckily, you don’t have to meet in-person to reap the benefits of group accountability. Joining an online community or sharing your progress on social media can make you feel as if you’re part of a greater support network that is simultaneously cheering you on and holding you accountable. The key is to report progress regularly, which science has shown will improve your ability to stay on track.And it doesn’t have to be an in-person group – you can join an online community, or even just share your progress on a social network, science has shown that reporting regular progress will increase your chances of staying on track.

    By building accountability into your process you have a greater probability of success. This is also a great way to celebrate accomplishments. For each of your goals, I challenge you to think about who is monitoring your progress, how you are reporting your progress, and what will encourage you to double-down your efforts if you fall behind. Be it feedback from a friend, the checked box in your planner or the likes on your profile page, an extra layer of support will strengthen your resolve to get shit done. .

    If you are truly serious about achieving your goal, accountability is not something to shy away from. In fact, it is a great way to celebrate your accomplishments! So for each of your goals, I challenge you to think about who is monitoring your progress, how are your reporting your progress and what will encourage you to double-down your efforts if you fall behind. Because no matter who you are accountable to, the system you’ve set in place will catch you if you slip, like one heck of a safety net, and bounce you back on your feet.

  • Set a schedule, not a deadline.

    Lose 10lbs by Christmas.
    Save an extra $5000 in 2016.
    Release my smart phone application in the app store before Black Friday.

    Deadlines sound great in theory. In practice, setting Whopper-size goals like these can result in big disappointment when you miss the mark. Even when you make considerable progress, it is easy to feel like a failure if you don’t hit that goal in its entirety.

    The better approach is to quantify your goal into its elements, like the binary ones and zeros of a software program. Apart, these elements may not mean much, but together they are powerful. Identify the elements of your goal and implement them one at a time so that you make steady progress each and every day. As a result, I always try to set a schedule instead of a deadline.

    Consistency is the real key to success.

    Just think about it. If you want to be smarter and to expand your knowledge, it is easy to read 10 pages a day in a good book.f you do that every day for the entire year, you will have read 3520 pages (or about 12 good books)! And that will make you smarter.

    If you want to lose weight, it is easy to walk an extra 1000 steps per day or skip the cookie after lunch. And if you do those things regularly over a long period of time you will see results.

    World class athletes will practice every day for months or years in preparation for the big event. They do not will themselves to be faster, but rather they train their body repeatedly in micro movements that shed seconds off their time so that when the big race comes, their body has been conditioned to near perfection.

    To be a top performer, focus on the process, not the outcome.

    You can do this by planning your week in advance. I use a method called time blocking to carve out dedicated, focused time for taking the steps needed to achieve my goal. Doing so means that the dreaded deadline is never able to sneak up on me with my pants down. Success is about being consistent and making regular forward progress.


    As with all goals though, the first and most important thing is taking action. Break things into small pieces and start working on them. Even when you don’t feel like working, sit down and try to make progress. A rough first draft is better than finishing a few more episodes on Netflix.

    Prioritize and focus on what is important, and I guarantee if you just make a little bit of progress every day you will be so much happier come 2017.

    I hope this helps you get started on a fantastic rest-of-2016. And if you need some extra accountability feel free to share some of your goals with me by heading over to our Facebook page – I read and respond to every single comment. I am your biggest cheerleader, always. <3

    Until next time superstar,

    Kate

    P.S. If you want a great resource that will help you stay on track with your goals, be sure to sign up for our newsletter to receive a free download of the original Spark Planner. A proven productivity tool, it is my gift to you to help you take one more step forward on your journey. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.

    For more advice, here are some of my favorite posts on reaching your goals: