Spring Cleaning for Goals: 3 Ways to Keep This Year’s Dreams from Dying

Written by Steph Crowder

April is famous for bringing us rain showers, baseball and the second quarter of the year. What we talk about less often? The goals you eagerly set back in January, now swept under that giant pile of stuff in your garage you promise you’ll organize this Spring.

We hear from hopeful business builders all the time who sheepishly admit, “I was so motivated to pursue these dreams, but I can’t seem to find my enthusiasm a few weeks into a project. I feel burnt out.”

Our businesses aren’t the only places where this cycle of motivation and disillusion turns up. Take one look around the gym and you’ll see exactly what I mean. The treadmills, once packed with new members around January 1st who resolved to form a habit this year, are now empty and waiting to be used.

It’s easy to give up when the first three months of the year don’t go exactly as we planned them back in January. For the gym goers who sought to lose 15 pounds by Spring, stepping on a scale that won’t budge week after week feels impossible when convenience foods and Netflix are all too tempting.

It’s not much different for those of us working towards the dream of making an independent living running a business we care about. Perhaps we thought we would have more podcast downloads by now, or we carefully outlined a brand new product idea only to fall behind and miss our launch date.

A few setbacks and unforeseen obstacles are often enough to give rise to that negative voice in our heads that demands, “Who did you think you were kidding when you set this goal anyway?”

Just because things haven’t gone perfectly during the first three months of this year doesn’t mean it’s time to chuck your grand plans. If you’ve fallen off the business building wagon (and who hasn’t at some point?), it’s time to get back on. There is nothing so magical about January 1st that says you can’t get back in the goal-setting game today, just a random day in April.

So don’t be that girl or that guy who gives up despite swearing with excitement that this would be the year you took measurable, persistent steps towards launching your business or hitting minimum viable income. Don’t let your vision fizzle out before Spring flowers are in bloom just because things haven’t unfolded exactly the way you pictured them back in January.

Here are three strategies for rekindling that New Year’s magic and breathing life into your big goals with some good old-fashioned Spring cleaning:

Clear the Clutter

January might have New Year’s Resolutions, but April has Spring Cleaning. As the clouds start to part and better weather promises to make its debut, many of us get an urge to sweep out the cobwebs and start fresh.

Sometimes the sheer amount of stuff we have going on in our lives casts a dark shadow over everything we’re trying to accomplish. Hitting the restart button can awaken that motivation and excitement about your goals, giving you the mental bandwidth you need in order to revisit your biggest goals.

#1: Physical clutter

Many of us overlook the impact a crowded and chaotic space can have on our business goals. It might not seem like those encroaching stacks of paper and leftover coffee cups have anything to do with your waning desire to grow your business, but an unattractive and anxiety-inducing space will hardly invite you to sit down and get stuff done.

Challenge yourself to choose 3 areas of your home and/or work space that are clutter traps overrun by papers, books and piles, then get to work restoring order. Here’s a physical space golden rule for you to try: decide that every single item should have a designated place — if it doesn’t have a “home” in your home, it needs to go.

#2: Mental clutter

This type of mess might just be the trickiest of all as it turns up in different places:

  • Your overflowing email inbox. Are you one of those people who has 5,476 unread emails? I was too, until I realized that kind of clutter must be distracting my thought processes as I try to navigate my day. An email inbox organizer such as unroll.me might work well to help you keep a cleaner inbox.

    Or, if you find this kind of system only enables your pack-ratting ways (*hand raised*), challenge yourself to simply unsubscribe. If you don’t look forward to reading it, you don’t need it — and you can always find a sale when you need one.

  • Tabs on tabs. Have you ever tried to get work done when you have 20 tabs open in your web browser at once? I have, and I can feel my brain moving slowly as it tries to remember which window is where. Go minimal with your browser by keeping only the essentials open as you tackle one thing at a time.
  • “Should”s, “can’t”s, and other self-doubt cocktails. If you’ve allowed feelings of self-doubt to creep in and wear away at your resolve over the past three months, you’re far from alone. If you’re starting to waver when it comes to your belief that you can do this, acknowledge your feelings for what they are, listen to this episode of The Fizzle Show, stop comparing yourself to others and just move forward.
  • The social media death trap. While social media has the power to serve as a growth tool for your business, there’s no question that there’s plenty of distractions to be found at any given moment. Many of us have reached a point where we find ourselves scrolling listlessly without even thinking about what we’re doing in the moment.

    You don’t need that empty noise while you are trying to freshen your goals. Consider trying a digital detox by hopping off social media for an entire weekend in order to rest and reconnect with what matters most. A Google Chrome extension such as Facebook News Feed Eradicator, which replaces your news feed with an inspiring quote, might just be your new best friend in breaking old scrolling habits.

#3: Decision clutter

Should I choose WordPress or Squarespace? Should I host a workshop for my customers or jump into creating courses? Which bookkeeping service should I use?

In the Fizzle forums, we see a lot of entrepreneurs struggling with the sheer amount of decisions to be made at every turn. While it’s important to make informed choices, it’s all too easy to get so caught up in the options that progress halts altogether.

Make it your mission to make the decisions you’ve been putting off in your business. These unresolved loose ends are hampering your ability to fully move on to the next stage, so make the best choices you can and free up your mental capacity for bigger, more exciting decisions to be made in the future.

Look Back to Look Forward

Once the clutter has been cleared, you’ll likely already notice a boost in motivation and a jolt of energy to go with it. Capitalize on this renewed sense of confidence and excitement by evaluating how the first quarter of the year went in order to learn from it and prepare for what lies ahead.

At Fizzle, we use Trello to look at all of our projects one quarter at a time. We create a card for each project and move it to a “completed” column once that project wraps up. That means that by the end of the quarter, we can see exactly what got done and where we missed the mark, all in one place.

However you choose to organize your projects and tasks, here are some questions you can ask to help celebrate your wins and diagnose your weak spots:

Which projects were a success? What didn’t get done?

Even if things didn’t go the way you hoped, chances are that you can pick out the pieces that did go well. What made those projects a success? How did you get them done? What can you learn from the processes you used to finish the job?

On the flip side, take a hard look at where things went off the rails. It’s easy to beat ourselves up for not completing a project we promised we would, but our missed deadlines have much to teach.

What was the root of the problem? Did you commit to a timeline that was simply too aggressive to be realistic? Is it possible that this project is no longer in line with your core goals, and is it worth working on in the future?

Instead of judging yourself by the measuring stick of what you didn’t finish, get honest about your business reality and challenge whether the project is still relevant.

What worked? What didn’t work?

As you reflect back on the first three months of this year, come up with the best things you did for yourself and for your business. I love to grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, with “what worked” on the left and “what didn’t” on the right, old school style.

Perhaps you joined a mastermind group that pushed you to keep going week after week. At the same time, maybe you spent too many mornings getting lost in your email inbox which caused you to chase shiny objects until mid day.

Without beating yourself up, recognize the habits that have served you well so far this year and fully acknowledge your areas for improvement.

What am I saying “yes” to? What will I say “no” to?

Now that you’ve examined which projects were completed, what worked and what didn’t, you can decide what you will embrace during these next three months along with the things you are consciously letting go of.

What are the things you care about enough to say “yes” to? What are the projects, tasks and habits worthy of the precious time slots in your calendar? Say yes by choosing to prioritize these things.

At the same time, perhaps you’ve realized you need to politely turn down coffee and lunch dates this Spring in order to really focus. Give yourself permission to say no when you need to in order to clear more space for your “yes” column.

Revise & Tighten

At this point, you’ve cleared space in your life physically and mentally in order to expose fertile ground for new ideas and fresh motivation. You’ve challenged yourself to reflect back on the first three months of the year, including the good, the bad and the ugly.

Now is the time to flip all the way back to the goals you set for yourself back in January. As this year unfolds there’s no reason the the goals you set need to remain rigid, so ask yourself what you can tweak and hone based on where you stand right now.

If in January you dreamt of writing a book this year but you’ve been unable to bring yourself to even start outlining the content, consider scaling back and setting a more reasonable goal for yourself. You might decide to focus on publishing one blog post a week for the next three months in order to flesh out your ideas and pick up some confidence around your topic to test out your book idea.

And if you didn’t get around to setting goals earlier this year, there’s no reason to accept that you’ve simply missed the boat on having a vision for this year! You can still take the time to review where you’ve been and make a plan for what lies ahead.

Think monthly, weekly & daily

Once you have a sense of how you’ll adjust your goals to fit these next three months, break each project into monthly, weekly and daily habits.

What has to happen every single day for you to look back on July 1 with a feeling of accomplishment? What must you do weekly to insure success? How can you break each project into 3 mini checkpoints over the next 3 months?

This process will help you understand the exact actions to take, and how each small step adds up to progress over this next quarter.

So what will you choose? Like the defeated gym goers who have abandoned their fitness regimens, most hopeful business builders will falter. Will you wait another 9 months until it’s time to set New Year’s Resolutions once again, or will you seize this chance to jumpstart your dreams?

What will you do to be different?

Earn a living doing something you love.

Grow an audience and get paid for your work as an independent creator. Fizzle is where creators come to learn, share and make progress toward their online dreams.

I’ve taken a lot of courses and been involved in several paid communities since I started my business, but I’ve never ever felt like anyone CARED as much about seeing my reach my goals as the Fizzle Team. They show up for me as much as I show up for myself. Thank you SO much, you guys!

Claire Pelletreau

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