My antidote to failed intentions

Routines and Rituals, Strategy

Close your eyes and picture yourself just before the end of your last team retreat or leadership seminar or productivity training.

I bet you’re brimming with optimism, enthusiastic about all the cool stuff you learned and insight you had, full of so many amazing ideas . . . the future is awesome and life is good!

…And then… Bliss turns to anxiety and dread as you imagine yourself back in the office, overwhelmed by email from your time away, colleagues lined up outside your door wanting your attention… sucked back into reality and all your good intentions abandoned before you’ve even filed your expense report.

Then three months later (when you finally get around to filing that expense report) you re-discover your notes from the retreat/training/seminar while cleaning off your desk and realize you’ve forgotten all about those lessons and great ideas. [cue sad music]

This week I participated in my quarterly business retreat. Over the weekend, I did my usual prep, including reviewing my notes from last retreat. I was relieved to see how much I’ve accomplished since early June. Not that I checked everything off the list or pursued every idea to full realization (hey, who ever does?!), but I’ve made reasonable progress. At least things looked familiar – this wasn’t the first time since June that I read my notes, considered next steps or acted on an idea.

So, before I hop on the plane back home this afternoon, I thought I’d take a moment to share the hack that made this all possible – my antidote to failed intentions – my 3-step process for maintaining momentum.

(I thought about using the subject line “The secret to making s#*t that matters happen” for this note, but then realized it might get caught in your spam filter. 😉)

Step 1: Book It

I learned the hard way that when I don’t schedule specific, intentional (and sacred!) time for processing and integration immediately following a retreat, training or event, then it (and the s#*t that matters) never happens. So, when I book my travel or sign up for the seminar, I go straight to my calendar and book 30-90 minutes for my “momentum making” time after the event as well.

Step 2: Flag the Follow Up

I do my best to flag specific items for follow up during the event itself so that I can identify those things quickly and easily at the start of my processing time. I’ve tried different systems for this – symbols, color-coding, highlighting. Use whatever system works for you.

Step 3: Sort and Segment

My momentum making time starts with a review of my notes. This is a great time to clean up or add detail to anything I didn’t capture completely or clearly enough during the event while it’s still fresh in my mind. Then, I organize my action items and key takeaways by things to do now (during this block of time or within 48 hours), things to do later (with a specific time to revisit or if I don’t have a specific timeframe it gets filed in my “random ideas” folder), things to delegate, dump (what I’ll stop doing), diarize (aka, schedule) and then items for dreaming (that could be a brainstorm of 10 ideas on a topic or some deeper “thinking time” with a key question or challenge to ponder).

Want to maintain that sense of bliss, optimism and possibility after your next retreat, seminar or training? Give my practice a try.

If you’re finally ready to keep the momentum going and realize your good intentions, click here to download my free Maintain the Momentum Worksheet.

When you give it a try, please send me a note to let me know how it works for you or share your tweaks if you adapt it to meet your needs better.

Time to board my flight . . .