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Posted: January 05, 2005

Professional Caregiving

A New Year and a Fresh Start on Deferred Projects

We often make New Year?s resolutions to tackle projects we put aside throughout the previous year. Of all the effective strategies I use in my coaching practice, this approach seems most effective when experiencing frustration with a task that hasn?t gotten done, somehow having been sidelined by minutia that seemed more important or immediate at the time. Before you knew it, weeks had gone by and the task had not moved forward one iota.

We have all been there. Whether we have a certain report due, a difficult meeting to convene, a project to begin, or simply taking the next important step in moving a project along, we may need a jumpstart to get it done this year. Many families we work with could benefit from this same approach, as they face important decisions or next steps and need support and accountability from others to see them accomplish their set goals.

Trained coaches use various approaches to help propel their client?s projects forward. These range from visualizing the project from a bird?s-eye perspective, to determining the most important next steps from a new vantage point, or creating and prioritizing a list of the 10 most achievable tasks.

Another successful tool used by life coaches asks the client to break the project into three categories. Each category is given a weighted score, and the coaching centers around ways to increase the weight assigned to a category while keeping the client accountable to their task and the coach. In the first of these categories, importance helps set the stage for the true order in which projects must get completed. If you continually push projects of the greatest importance to the back burner, you might jeopardize your job at one extreme. On the other hand, you may feel the urgency and frustration of not completing a less important job, and therefore assigning less urgency would lighten your load.

So the first task at hand here is to look at the project, and rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being insignificant to 10 the highest priority. This score then allows you to set a timetable that is realistic and from which you can set intermediate goals until the task is completed.

After assigning a timetable, the next area to score is one?s confidence level. Are you putting this off because you are intimidated by the research required, or are you putting this off because you know the process backwards and forwards and are simply not inspired by such a rote task? Scores at the lower end indicate a total lack of confidence in your ability to accomplish this task, and at the higher end a high degree of confidence.

Here, dependent on your confidence level you can list the steps you need to become motivated by the work. If your score is very high in this category, you can list the next steps you need to move this confidence to action and take the task on to completion.

Finally, you must assess how ready you actually are to take your first steps. If you review your timetable and willingness to commit accountability to your coach, a friend or a colleague, and if you determine how equipped and confident you are of completing the task, you can then understand just how ready you are to tackle this assignment.

Scores in the low end of 1-10 range indicate you?re not very ready, which may mean that you must take some other steps to gain the knowledge or team commitment necessary to build your confidence and complete the task

On the other hand, if you scored high in importance and confidence, and you scored yourself low on readiness, you need to list the actions you need to jumpstart yourself, and once you do, your confidence and the importance of this project will carry you forward. If you scored high on importance, confidence and readiness, all you have to do is get started, because you have just shown yourself that there is no reason to hold back.

Making a verbal commitment to a peer, even making your first ?appointment? with yourself to begin the project, and writing it into your calendar will help you stay true to your intent. You show up, you participate and you are on your way!

No one completes every task they undertake. It is interesting to examine open tasks and note the ways in which we sabotage some of our efforts. Through distraction? Talking ourselves out of confidence? Taking on other high priority projects simultaneously? Accountability is the key here. Asking a colleague to receive a call each day from you so you can report your success or progress can help keep the action alive and away from the back burner.

You then can return the favor! That is, once your own project is neatly completed.


Sylvia Nissenboim is a licensed clinical social worker and who has been working in the field of adult day services in the St. Louis area. She is the director of four adult care and enrichment centers for the American Red Cross and also operates a personal and professional coaching firm, LifeWork Transitions, specializing in caregiving concerns, adult day care management and other aging services, such as virtual coaching and family care giving support groups. She co-authored The Positive Interactions Program, is a national speaker, and has served as president of the Missouri Adult Day Care Association and as a member of the Missouri Governor's Advisory Council on Aging..

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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