Universal Ethics
Universal Ethics

8. Track your Progress

Now we come to the hardest part--to actually carry out the plan! This is the part of the planning process that people fail at most frequently. Here are some suggestions to help you to be more successful!

The Reminder Habit

Every morning, as part your "get up and have breakfast" routine, review your plan for the day. Look at the goals you have decided upon, so you will remember what you seek to accomplish. Then look at your to-do list and your scheduled activities for the day. It may be helpful for you to have this list during the day, so you may wish to print it off, or load it onto a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.

The Logging Habit

Next to the reminder habit, the next most important planning discipline you can develop is the logging habit. This means simply to log your progress, so that you can verify that you are on track with your plan. As you complete to-do items, record the date and time when they were done, and how long it took. You may also find it useful to compare the estimated time to complete a task with how long it actually took. This can help you to adjust your plans if they are turning out to be unrealistic.

Likewise it is a good idea to keep track of expenditures related to your planned outcomes.

Also, remember the measures of progress that you planned earlier! Log your progress on those measures so that you can see progress occurring. This can be useful to encourage you, especially in situations where progress will be slow.

Tracking Your Progress

The reason for logging your time, money, and measures of progress, is so that you can verify that you are on-track with your plan. It is helpful to have a quick means of adding up the time and money you have been using, and to graph the results of your progress measures. If you had logged those things using the Pathways app, it would produce some useful reports and graphs for you.

If you are doing your planning with the help of a family member, that can also be a source of encouragement. Let them know what outcomes you seek, and share with them your progress. You are more likely to keep on track if you share your plan and progress with people who care about you.

Another Kind of Tracking

The previous steps show progress against your plan, but there is another kind of tracking you need to do: keep track of other people and what pleases them! It is a very good idea to keep a list of your contacts, and a few notes about their interests. There are lots of ways you could do that, but once again the Pathways app provides you with an easy and free solution via the Pathways Person and Address book.

A matter of importance

At this point you might suppose you are at the end of the planning process, but that is not the case. Remember that this is an iterative process!

At this stage, it's a good idea to consider the intended satisfactions that you recorded in your plan, that you intended to enjoy for you, your family, and others as a result of completing the planned outcomes.

Maybe some of those outcomes in progress are not yielding the kind of satisfaction you expected (they could be better or worse!). Now is a good time to revise your plan to show more accurate indications.

Maybe some of the outcomes that you thought would be "stepping stones" to future goals aren't achieving the results you expected. If so, this would be a good time to figure out if there are some other objectives you should set in their place, or to adopt some possibilities you had planned as a contingency.

In other words, this is a time to pause, take some time to think about your life, your family, and others, and then start the planning process over again!

As stated at the outset, you ought not to expect that you can produce a complete plan all at once, nor that your plan will ever be "done." If you reserve a couple of hours each week for planning, you will be better prepared, have more confidence, and sleep better. (Bedtime is NOT the time to be figuring this out--that is one of the prime reasons why many people don't sleep well!)

Through planning, you can be better prepared for the future and be more successful in accomplishing the things you want. But there is another thing you will notice as you plan and develop self-discipline to implement your plan: you have the satisfaction of knowing you are making the best decisions you can, and that you are in control of your own life.

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