You’re in the final stretch!
You’ve made it through months of hard work, challenges, and hopefully some success, but in many ways the last leg of a marathon can be the toughest.
Keeping up continuous momentum is challenging and there are always setbacks along the way, but seeing the end of the year coming up can be such a great motivator and help you to push even further.
Whether you’re feeling a little weary or you’re energized and ready to achieve what you set out to do all those months ago, a third quarter check-in can be a great time to assess your progress and help you to keep up the pace (or adjust if needed).
Just like at other points during the year, checking in and analyzing what you’ve done and what’s left to do can have a noticeable impact on reaching your goals. You’ve probably learned a lot about yourself throughout the process, and maybe you've already made some adjustments. By this point in the year, hopefully the process of adapting with your circumstances and your progress feels less daunting.
Below find some ways to reflect, learn, and plan for achieving your goals in these final months of the year.
How has your journey been? If it’s been rocky, maybe you know why. Maybe some things have been beyond your control, but you’re still here! Setbacks are natural, but if you’re reading this, then you’ve probably had some success in goal-setting too.
Or maybe you’re just where you planned to be! That’s great news, and reflection may show you why you were able to accomplish what you have so far. This is a moment to give yourself some credit.
Reflecting on the hard parts and the good parts of working toward your goal are equally important — you’ll likely find a mix when it’s all said and done. A check-in should be all encompassing, so try not to let your reflection become too one-sided, even though that’s easy to do.
Writing out your experience can be a helpful way to sort through the past several months. Pre-write yourself questions to avoid becoming overwhelmed or free-write your thoughts. There are lots of options, but having a reflective habit is a method experts advise.
Prompts can make the process easier by helping you think about aspects you maybe wouldn’t have on your own.
The further you get into the year, your check-ins become even more crucial, so maybe plan to add a few more into your schedule before the end of the year. The last few months go by fast with deadlines and holidays, so be sure to check in with yourself regularly.
Make minor changes
You’ve probably figured out a routine or pretty steady flow when it comes to your goals by now. You likely have new routines and you’ve been able to figure out what kinds of things stick and which ones don’t. Now is the time to fine-tune your method.
Take this time during your check-in to audit your everyday life, especially because it’s the biggest indicator of your actions. A University of California study found that as much as half of everyday behaviors are habitual.
Over the course of the year you may have picked up new habits in relation to your goals and have yet to even realize their impact on your daily life, but walking intentionally through your day or common situations can help you to correct (or build upon!) the habits that you have developed.
It’s true that there isn’t much time left to make big changes if you want your achievements to align with the end of the year, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed if you’re not quite where you thought you would be.
The solution is to be realistic with what you can accomplish in the next 4 months. Perhaps it’s time to start making weekly or daily micro-goals or restructuring your overall goal to be more realistic.
Realizing reaching your goal may be harder than you originally thought can be frustrating and demotivating, but it’s not a reason to throw the entire thing away. Progress is progress! Ask yourself:
- What can I change at this point that is realistic?
- Was my goal too lofty to begin with? Can I expand that lofty goal across a longer timeline, or focus it down to match my current reality more?
- What setbacks have I encountered and what did I learn from them to help me move forward?
- Are there challenges over the next three months I can already foresee?
When you’re down to the wire, prioritizing will become your best tool. But it’s not so easy to master, especially when so many things are competing for our attention. Take a serious look at how you spend your day. Do you allocate enough time to working toward your goals?
At this point in the year, your priorities may have changed, and that’s normal! The human brain is great at adapting, so don’t be afraid to change up your priorities even if things have gone swimmingly so far. Little tweaks here and there could make a real difference in these last few months.
Start thinking ahead
Goals are rarely an end-all-be-all. Some goals come with maintenance once you achieve them and other times a goal serves as a jumping off point for further accomplishments. At this point it’s good to start thinking about what’s next.
For example, if you set the goal of writing a book, then you probably have dreams of it being published at some point. Even if you haven’t finished that book, looking at publishing options can be a big motivator to finish strong.
These final months can be both tough and enjoyable. You’ve found your groove and you’re almost ready for the pay off! Let your check-in make you proud.