2017 was a great year for We are all Wonder Women - we launched our website, started our blog and connected with lots of other Wonder Women at different stages of their career journeys. Outside of this, we both hold down full-time jobs in nature conservation as well as taking care of our young families and balancing it all with enough time to keep ourselves energised and motivated to deal with the day-to-day dramas. How do we maintain all this? And stay sane?!
The answer is being clear on our priorities, laser-focused on our goals, and planning for success like Wonder Women! Here we list 5 essential actions to plan for your Wonder Woman year in 2018.
1. Goal setting and priorities
It’s easy to get burnt out when we have so much on our plates at any one time. We feel pulled in different directions by our many commitments and no amount of scheduling seems to bring us any closer to a sense of peace or fulfilment in our lives.
The first thing to do is step back, step off the hamster wheel, and take time to think about the real priorities in your life. Personally, I have three big priorities under which all my goals sit: to be happy (my family life); to be healthy (my physical and mental health); and to be successful (making a positive impact in the world). What is important to you? Don’t hold back here, write down exactly what you want your life to be like in five years time. Then work backward from there and form them into goals for the next 12 months. What would make 2018 feel like a real success for each priority?
2. Lead and lag indicators
Once you have your goals for the next 12 months, these can be broken down even further into 12 week blocks. We love the book The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Month by Brian Moran. It can feel a bit process-oriented, but the premise of condensing your longer-term goals into a shorter time frame is solid.
What actions can you take monthly, weekly, daily, to move towards your goals? Here’s where lead indicators come in. We are all used to using lag indicators, these are measurements of the results of an action. For example, if your goal is to write 3 academic papers this year, you might measure your success towards that goal with the number of academic papers you have written by the end of 2018. But this doesn’t encourage action, and can even put pressure on you towards the end of the year if you’re susceptible to procrastination earlier on.
Using lead indicators instead is hugely helpful - these are indicators of how much effort you are putting into the actions. For example, your indicator for writing academic papers could be the number of hours you have spent per week writing for academic papers. So if your goal for the year is 3 academic papers, then your mini-goal might be 6 hours of academic writing per week. For each priority, write down a set of mini-goals for a 12 week block, then break these down even further into weekly goals and the lead indicators needed to track your progress towards them.
3. Personal accountability and staying on track
Here’s where many fail - they set goals and targets, they know what they have to do to achieve them, but they don’t have any personal accountability. Spending too much time on social media or watching television can distract you from your task. Unforeseen setbacks might push you off course and get in the way of your progress. It takes courage and determination to forge ahead when there are so many distractions.
A great book on this is The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage by Ryan Holiday. This is a very digestible summary of stoicism - an avenue of philosophy dating back to the Greek and Roman era. If you’re feeling overwhelmed then this book has some excellent tips on facing your obstacles and changing your perspective to see the opportunity in the obstacle. It’s been shown that willpower is not the exhaustible resource that many thought it to be, in fact, your personal willpower is only exhaustible if you think it is exhaustible. By changing how you think, you can find new levels of inner-determination and mental fortitude that you didn’t even know you were capable of - how exciting!
4. Recording your progress
Tracking progress towards your goals on a daily basis is absolutely essential. Our favourite resource for this is the Self Journal. This 13-week journal fits perfectly with the tips outlined above, and also has space for noting down things you are grateful for at the beginning and end of each day. I used a Self-Journal throughout the whole of 2017, and it’s amazing to go back to the first one to look at my progress since then.
In my professional life, I’ve launched a new business, been promoted and increased my salary by almost 30%, obtained a Masters Degree with Distinction, and led several multi-million dollar projects working with developing country governments to conserve their biodiversity. Outside of work I have a beautiful and loving family life, I maintain a healthy lifestyle and take time to meditate daily. When you’re on the hamster wheel it’s difficult to celebrate each success and be truly grateful for what you have. Take the time to write down your achievements, even the very small ones, on a daily basis.
5. Your personal cheerleading squad
I am extremely lucky to be part of a loving and mutually supportive family where we encourage each other to reach our personal and shared goals. Think about who you have in your life as your personal cheerleaders. Is it your family, your friends, your colleagues? There may be people in your life holding you back. Supportive networks are incredibly important, so nurture and maintain them, and think about how to deal with those who are less helpful to you. We are all Wonder Women is a place for female conservation professionals to be inspired, connected, and empowered to create an authentic, fulfilling and happy career. Head over to our Facebook page to start sharing your experiences with other like-minded Wonder Women!
The New Year might seem like to perfect time to set your goals and targets. It offers a clean start, a new beginning. But wherever you are in your journey and whatever the time of year, the opportunity always exists to improve ourselves and push towards the life we want to lead. Be authentic, be the best version of yourself that you can be. Whatever the date on the calendar :)
“Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing and wherever we are going, we owe it to ourselves, to our art, to the world, to do it well.”
― Ryan Holiday
We Are All Wonder Women is an international movement for female conservation professionals to be inspired, connected, and empowered to create an authentic, fulfilling and happy career.