Saturday, January 10, 2015

Break it Down Now

Now that you have your SMART goal(s) and you're filled with possibly too much optimism, where to start?

When eating an elephant take one bite at a time

-Creighton Abrams

What did you just say?!
Now you need to break your goal down into actionable items. I'm going to switch examples here because my Khan Academy goal breaks down a little too easily (one lesson per day until completed). So lets look at a larger goal of mine, potty training my 2-year-old daughter by the end of January. Cue ominous music.

Not a task for the faint of heart, potty training can certainly be broken down into steps. Now that I'm thinking about it step 1 should probably be "buy carpet cleaner."

So, in no particular order I'm going to brainstorm here about the things I need to do for this to be successful:

  • Have on hand lots of cloth training pants (I already have these).
  • Have on hand carpet cleaner.
  • Have on hand at least 1 potty which Alice will agree to sit on.
  • Pick a start date.
  • Clear my schedule of most other tasks for at least 2 days (this will include having meals pre-prepared or planning easily prepared meals).
  • Reduce amount of work scheduled in evenings so I can get enough sleep.
  • Keep Alice in a 1-2 room area for the first few days.
  • Recruit my almost 4-year-old, Finn, to assist in demonstrating the awesomeness of using a potty.
  • Reread Diaper-Free Before 3.
  • Use Elmo's Potty Time as a tool for encouraging compliance.
  • Use hourly potty sits until Alice gets the idea.
  • Talk to husband about my plan and get him on board (no more diapers means no more diapers!).
Well, I think that's really all you need for successful pottying. I may think of something else but lets try breaking these items up and giving them their own deadlines. I am not setting a strict deadline for my daughter to be potty trained because that doesn't work, and if we give it a go for a few days and there is no cooperation or success I will wait 2 months and try again. That in mind, I can set goal for myself to have some of these things gathered/completed and I can certainly set myself a strict start date (even if deep down I'm kinda dreading this).

Start Date: January 17, 2015
  1. Discuss potty training with husband ASAP.
  2. Gather all supplies by start date.
  3. Edit work schedule to accommodate extra sleep.
  4. Do my usual Saturday and Sunday chores on Thursday and Friday.
  5. Prep meals on January 15th and 16th to cover at least January 17th-18th.
  6. Finish rereading Diaper-Free Before 3 by the evening of January 16th.
  7. Discuss potty training Alice with Finn the night before.
On January 17th
  • Provide lots of fluids (watered down juice) to allow many chances for success!
  • Do hourly 5 minute (if possible) potty sits to allow opportunities for successful pottying.
  • Provide congratulations when pottying is successful.
  • Assist child with cleaning when accidents occur. (I almost wrote if in that sentence... excuse me while I die laughing.)

So that's my example of one way to break down a goal. For me this is a very import process as it stops be from becoming paralyzed by the sheer size of a goal or project that needs to be completed. Potty training my daughter is a huge and intimidating task. Going out and buying carpet cleaner is not. Breaking a goal down like this also reminds me that even if I don't achieve my main goal (especially in this case) that I still accomplished something. I still checked off all those little steps toward my goal. I hope this helps you get one step closer to achieving your goals! Let me know in comments if you have a favorite motivational technique for getting started with a goal.

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