I plan my year in quarters.
I have big annual goals and I break those down into smaller ones every 3 months. From those quarterly goals I work out what I need to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis in order to achieve those goals.
2008 was the last year that I completed annual performance appraisals within the organisation I was working in.
I am deeply passionate about making things as simple and streamlined as possible. I genuinely believe annual goal setting is a thing of the past for so many reasons. Some companies still have 3-5 year strategies and annual goals, but if we look at the pace of change that is happening in our world today and in our workplace, we realise that it’s not as effective. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good to have ideas and vision long term, but we have to look at what is going on in real time.
If the last couple of years has taught us anything it’s that we have no control over what’s happening around us. Yet so many people are setting 3-5 year strategies, 1 year goals and 1 year planning. We need to get much more creative and effective.
Back to 2008 - with annual performance reviews we usually sit down with our managers and reflect on the last 12 months and then look at the next 12 months. It’s like thanks, these are your goals for the next year, off you go and good luck. Effective managers will continue to review those goals on a regular basis. Ineffective managers do those appraisals as a tick box exercise. Job done for the next 12 months.
So when I scrapped these annual appraisals, I wanted to go straight to regular coaching conversations throughout the year. But that felt like too much of a leap at the time, so what we put in place was; we took out the annual review, we put in place 4 quarterly reviews, everybody was scored on each of those quarters and at the end of the year they got their final scores. The grades and the numbers still felt like they mattered back in 2008.
The first year was trial and error, but in order to do that quarterly review we would be speaking to our teams every month 1-2-1 and if a goal was no longer relevant, we didn’t have to wait 12 months to find that out. We were dealing with it at the moment. If a goal had been achieved sooner than anticipated, another goal could be set. If a learning experience had been completed within that quarter, we could deal with that there and then.
Our data showed that our employee engagement scores, trust in leadership scores and trust in management scores shot through the roof. Plus, our customer satisfaction scores got to the high 90’s consistently. Everything increased and the difference was people felt valued on a monthly basis, and goals were being reviewed more frequently and effectively.
Around December time I sit and do my review of the year and I set my goals for the year ahead. Every year without fail. Then in the organisations I was working in, I would do end of year reviews/goals and objectives for the financial year at the end of March. Then I also do one around my birthday in September where I look at what I have achieved since my last birthday and what I want to achieve by my next one.
So automatically I was doing reviews 3 times a year without thinking. When I started to create the quarterly process in the organisation I was at in 2008, I quickly realised how much more I could get done, how much more focused I was in these quarterly periods. Even when I left corporate and started my own company in 2014, these quarterly goals still stuck with me.
So now my reviews look like this:
I often have people ask me how I get so much done and I say it’s because I work in quarters. Even though I am big vision and I can tell you where I want to be 3 or 5 years from now, I have annual goals that help me as stepping stones to achieve my big goals, I’ve got quarterly goals that help me reach those annual ones and I’ve got daily/weekly/monthly ones to help me achieve the quarterly goals.
In my diary everyday is something that will help me achieve my goals for the month, quarter and year.
One of my big goals is to have my own coaching and retreat space, where I can bring leaders together in a safe and beautiful place, taking them away from their usual environment to focus on coaching and wellbeing.
In order to get that I have certain financial goals I need to meet, certain clients I need to work with etc and all of these are in my daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual goals.
This retreat space will be connected to a house, which will provide security and financial stability to us as a family, it gives a beautiful space my sons can come back to, it provides a space and sanctuary for my parents and helps me to achieve my huge goal of changing the world of work by eliminating burnout and guilt.
This retreat space will give me everything I want in life, for family and my work.
I take steps in order to be able to achieve that.
Since I started Kelly Swingler Ltd in June 2021, over the last 15 months, I’ve written and published my 5th book, I’m halfway writing book 6. I’ve created my signature online programme, I’ve created and delivered my annual power event for female leaders and I’m in the process of organising the 2nd one. I’ve delivered talks, I’ve been on radio, tv, magazines and podcasts. I’ve worked with incredible clients. I’ve had money coming in and I’ve increased my followers and audience. I got really clear on my messaging and I drafted all of my social media for the year. I’m recording all my podcast episodes for the rest of the year and I’ve got all of my marketing planned. I’ve also managed to maintain my 4 day working, my every 6 week sabbaticals and I’ve had holidays.
I don’t do anything differently to other people and I don’t want people to feel bad when they hear about how much I’ve done. The difference is I do it all with precision and focus. I am still a recovering perfectionist and control freak and I like to be kept busy. I do what works best for me, I’m clear on my boundaries and who I am at the core and without fail I take 3 hours of time just for me every single day.
I am very clear who I am and what I want. I understand the importance of taking time out for myself.
The biggest bit we miss when setting goals and especially annual goals, is that we don’t take any action on a daily basis and only look at it every year.
We need to take the steps and take action to achieve our goals.
We want a new job, but don’t take action to make it happen.
We are business owners who want more clients, but don’t take action to make it happen.
We want more visibility, but we don’t take action.
We want to write a book, but we don’t sit down and start to write the words.
We want to be less tired, but we don’t allow ourselves to rest or get enough sleep.
We want to eliminate burnout, but don’t make any changes.
We sometimes look at goals as where we want to be. ‘I want to be a millionaire by December’ but what are you doing about it, how will you achieve that?
Some people believe that if we see it and believe it then we can have it. I’m sure there are many people trying to manifest success or money, but what they aren’t doing is taking action. If we could just meditate and manifest everything we wanted in life, we would all have it by now.
We need to do the action and the action will change things.
We can’t just have a goal and think it will magic itself into reality. We have to be an action taker.
For me I take action every single day. My 6th book is not going to write itself. Everyday I scribble notes down and every week I pull those thoughts together on a page. I dedicate time to complete that book.
One of my goals when I was working in corporate was to be HR Director by the time I was 40. I became HRD by the time I was 30. I then realised the organisation I was in wasn’t aligned to who I was at the core, so I left corporate to start my own business when I was 32.
Our missions will stay the same, but sometimes our goals can change.
In terms of your goals I want you to think about:
What’s the emotional attachment?
What will that goal give you, how will it make you feel?
What connection will you have to the goal?
Don’t just set annual goals, think smaller and break them down.
How can you take daily action?
Look at your time frame and be realistic.
Take action everyday and do the things that will make the biggest impact and add the greatest value.
Core-led women do 3 things and when they do these things they become empowered and empower others which creates a ripple effect:
They get really clear on who they are at the core
They have strong boundaries
They make time for themselves
In 2013 Kelly had a successful leadership career, yet she was burned out, exhausted, and missing out on life with family.
Determined to enjoy the success that she had earned, she's learned to create a life of balance and boundaries that is also highly successful. Today at kellyswingler.com, Kelly helps women leaders all over the world to prevent and recover from burnout without giving up their career or jeopardising their wellbeing.