Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions…Backwards Planning

painting a wall

Warning: You might want to get a beverage first. 

Last Friday I discussed that a possible reason why we don’t keep our New Year’s resolutions is because we fail to break down these lofty ambitions into “bite-sized” pieces. In the past when I have succeeded at keeping my resolutions, it has helped if I take those pieces and schedule them onto my daily “to-do list.” I work backwards on this. How? I take the date I want to realize my goal or resolution and then order the pieces backwards from that date, putting the last critical piece closest to the “due date” to complete the resolution. This year I really need to get busy and paint one of our bedrooms. I’m trying to turn it into a guest room.

I may have visitors wanting to use that guest room by as early as February 1st.  So, here are the pieces of that painting resolution, in reverse order:

1. Dust and vacuum finished room.

2. Remake guest room bed.

3. Put furniture back in place.

4. Remove all drop cloths and painter’s tape.

5. Clean up paint cans, trays, rollers and brushes.

6. Finish 2nd coat trimming.

7. Finish 2nd coat painting.

8. Finish 1st coat trimming.

9. Finish 1st coat painting.

10.  Spackle holes or dents.

11. Tape around door and window frames. Put down drop cloths

12. Move or cover furniture.

13. Purchase paint and spackle.

14. Select a paint color.

15. Get paint samples.

Since my health adventures can often derail these resolutions, if I don’t plan for them, I also try to build in a few “ill days” just in case. This is a good idea, even if you don’t have my health adventures–you never know when life is going to hand you a “curve ball.” So, if I’m working backwards, here’s when I need to get each of these steps done, date-wise:

February 1st – Ready for company

January 31st – Dust and vacuum room

January 30th – Remake bed.

January 29th – Put furniture back in place.

January 28th – Remove painter’s tape and drop cloths.

January 27th – Clean up all painting equipment & finish 2nd coat trimming.

January 25th – Finish 2nd coat painting.

January 24th – Finish 1st coat trimming.

January 23rd – Finish 1st coat painting.

January 22nd – Spackle holes and dents

January 21st – Tape around door and window frames. Put down drop cloths.

January 20th – Move furniture.

January 18th – Purchase paint and spackle.

January 17th – Select a paint color.

January 16th – Get paint samples.

Once the above is completed, I start putting the first dates’ tasks on my to do list as I complete other tasks. My daily to-do list only has 16 items on it. Why? Because you cause your body undue stress and illness by not getting 8 hours of sleep per day and that leaves you 16 hours to get things done out of a possible 24. Granted–some items on my to-do list take much longer than an hour, but many also take less than an hour, so this seems to work for me.

What if a resolution requires the same repetitive step day-after-day? This is also true of me. It needs to stay on that to-do list so you remember to do it and not allow other things to get in the way of completing it, if at all possible. I make this easy for myself by keeping a simple Word document of my daily to-do items. It makes deleting and color-coding my list really easy (more about that in a later post). I tried to do this on a fancy planner and on a computerized and smart phone version and I grew irritated with all of them. The KISS to-do list document works best for me and I’m not killing trees in the process. I started using this process in grad school and seem so much more productive since then. (Not perfect, but better!) But, if you like the fancy planner, smart phone or computer-version, be my guest and use it. The biggest mistake is not to plan at all!

Point to Ponder: Ready to get started on putting deadline dates on all of your “pieces” for attaining completion of that resolution item? Good for you! It’s okay if you struggle to put the “pieces” in reverse order as I did above. That’s what a delete key is for! Just keep working at it until you have thought of every step or piece and keep re-arranging them until they are completely in reverse order. Then, assign a target date to complete your resolution. Then, schedule target dates for each of those steps/pieces based on your target completion date. Don’t forget to build in some “days off” for unexpected things!

Friday’s Post: Keeping Your 2014 Resolutions…Color-Coding Your Daily To-Do List

You might also like: Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions…for good; How I Cope with a Heart That’s a Ticking Time Bomb, and You 3.0: Questions & Tips, Part III

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 at 10:50 am and is filed under Lessons Learned. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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