Goals give me stress.

All the books say “Give yourself a deadline” and “Set smaller interim goals.” The problem is, often I don’t know how much time or effort it’s going to take to reach the goal, so really my goal is just a stab in the dark, which is pretty much useless. I have Absolutely No Idea How To Get It Done On Time. If the time is too short, I end up working day and night and hate that I have no life. If the time is too long, I put it off until the time is too short.

I wake up in the morning already anxious about the day. And have you noticed that it’s really hard to concentrate on one thing when you’re worrying about how and when you’re going to get all the other things done as well?

Recently I realized that there is a solution to this in something we do all the time when we make a quilt. We figure out the design–the Goal–and then calculate the yardage required–what we’ll need to make it.

A “Measuring Goal” is the same process, applied to your time.

Right now I have a quilt sandwiched and ready to quilt. I also need to applique some leaves on it once the quilting is done, and finish off the edge with a facing. I’d like to finish it before I leave to go skiing, a week from today. I also have some other time-sensitive tasks to do, like inputting bank statements so I can summarize year-end taxes and make a quarterly tax payment before I leave.

So here’s the situation:
1) I need to finish the quilt by a deadline.
2) I need to balance this with the taxes and other tasks that also need to get done by a deadline.
3) I want to be able to relax, concentrate, and even enjoy whatever I’m doing without worrying about everything else.
4) I still want to have a life and get some sleep!

So I apply a Measuring Goal like this:

Today I’ll quilt for half an hour and see how far I get. And I’ll applique one leaf and see how much time that takes. Now, knowing the size of the quilt and how many leaves I have to applique, I can accurately calculate how many hours it will take to quilt it and applique the leaves. I can go to my calendar and schedule those hours between now and when I need to have the quilt done. (Plus a little cushion time, because don’t we always buy a little extra fabric, just in case?)

Same thing with the bank statements. I’ll do one, and see how long it takes. Then count up how many I have to do (confession: I have a lot of catching up to do!) and figure how long it will take to do them all. Then I schedule that much time in doable doses up to my deadline.

Now I can concentrate and enjoy myself when I work on these tasks (okay maybe not quite so much taxes, but definitely the quilting). And I can relax and not worry when I’m not working on them. All because I have a plan for finishing them on time that is based on a real measurement rather than a vague guess.

Let me know if you try using measuring goals and how they work for you. May 2017 be a year of reaching your goals!

Happy quilting and happy new year!


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