Behind on Your 2019 Goals and Feel Like a Loser? Ask Madeleine

Dear Madeleine,

I am so frustrated with myself. At the beginning of the year I set a whole bunch of goals. Then Q1 whooshed by and guess what I have done? Nothing. I stayed really focused for about two weeks and then forgot all about my resolutions.

One of my big goals was to have regular one on ones with everyone on my team, and it just isn’t happening. Something always seems to get in the way.

I feel like such a loser. I am never going to be the manager I want to be. I am racing around like a squirrel and everything seems like the most important nut. How can I reset and be successful?

Need to Try Again


Need to Try Again,

I love your metaphor. I can really relate! I’m so sorry you feel like a loser, though. I can sense the downward spiral you’re in.

The first order of business is to reverse the spiral so you can start thinking straight and get yourself back on track. To do this, make a quick list of every way you are winning—things you’re doing well, projects that are going according to plan, tasks you’re great at, goals you’re reaching, goals your direct reports are achieving. I’ll bet it’s a decent list.

The main reason you feel terrible is that you aren’t winning at some new goals. Just ponder on that for a moment. Then, if you’re still feeling like a loser, add to the list all the things you’re grateful for. It will literally change your brain chemistry.

Now let’s take a look at those new goals. How many are there? I’ll bet you an acorn you have too many. The number two reason people don’t achieve their goals is that they have too many of them. The number one reason is that they set unspecific, unclear goals.

I challenge you to choose one goal. Only one. Let’s go ahead and choose having regular one on ones with your people, since you brought it up. You may decide to choose something else on your list, but you can use this thought process.

Ask yourself: What is driving your desire to do this? What makes it important right now? Are you sure your people even want one-on-one meetings with you? What will the benefit be for them? For you? Decide for yourself what a good job looks like—how will you know you’re successful?

Then get support—who can help you with this? The obvious choice for this is your people. Ask your direct reports to take responsibility for their own one on ones. They can each put their own regular time on your calendar or otherwise make sure the meeting gets scheduled.

Finally, once you decide you’re going to commit, then really commit. Once the one on ones are scheduled, they are sacred. Nothing gets scheduled over them. (Okay, we all know that probably isn’t going to work, but you make sure the meeting gets rescheduled.) If you schedule them for every week, nobody will mind if you end up having to miss one, or even two. Then at least your people get two one on ones in a 30-day period, which maybe isn’t ideal but it isn’t bad—and it’s a lot better than none.

Take 7 minutes at the beginning and the end of each week and review your calendar to make sure those one on ones are there, and move them if needed. If you start feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself of why you decided to schedule them in the first place.

Now you can see how much work it is just to get on track with one thing—and you had a whole laundry list! No wonder it didn’t work. Get one thing nailed down, whatever it is. Get it into your daily actions, and at a certain point you will not be able to remember a time when you didn’t do it. Then you can add something else.

Calm down, take three deep breaths and choose. One thing. You can do this.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Blanchard Headshot 10-21-17

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!

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